Leaders – are they born or are they made?

Are leaders born or are they made? According to Sir Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, they are made (after they are born, of course).

Rudy Giuliani addressed a group of business professionals today at ‘In The Room’, a leadership and performance management event in Sydney.

Whilst I may have a bias towards Giuliani (I’m a Yank, living in Oz, who happened to be living in the third largest City in the USA on September 11th 2001), there is no doubt he displayed amazing leadership during and after 9/11. I, along with the rest of the world, watched a truly inspiring leader react calmly and with authority to an unprecedented disaster.

Today, Giuliani shared his insights on the six traits successful leaders have in common, which he believes ALL of us are capable of possessing.

1. To be successful, Giuliani believes you must have strong ideas, goals, beliefs or vision. Without this, others can’t follow or support you. Know what you want to achieve, so that others can share your goals and help you achieve them.

2. It is also essential to be an optimist and a problem solver. He demonstrated how no one (except perhaps a crazy NY street person) follows a doomsdayer. By providing hope and showing there is always a solution, people will follow.

3. All great leaders display courage. They stare danger in the face, and move forward anyway. The first step is to understand that courage is not the absence of fear (everyone feels afraid sometimes), but rather courage is what you do with your fear.

4. Giuliani suggests leaders use fear in creative ways, such as Relentless Preparation or “practice makes perfect.” Through repetition, rehearsal, reviewing and questioning, preparation minimises the fear of failure, a fear that stops most of us from becoming effective leaders. Once you have rehearsed and rehearsed, questioned, reviewed and otherwise prepared, you can handle any situation that comes up.

5. To truly accomplish results, a leader requires a great team. Giuliani explains that leaders take a hard look at themselves and understand their weaknesses. They then go out and find someone (or a team) who is good at what they are not. Balance the strengths and weaknesses within yourself and your team, and you will succeed.

6. Good leaders are also good communicators. Clearly articulating what you want, and where you want to go leads to results. By measuring success (and failure) along the way you provide feedback to everyone involved. Constant clear communication is key.

The wrap of this inspiring speech extended the list to include a seventh trait: love. You may wonder, “What does love have to do with Leadership in my organisation?” Well, according to Rudy Giuliani, we must care about one another and connect with each other to be a truly successful team. Being there when things go wrong, means you will all be together when things go right.

Whilst some of these steps may be harder to master than others, all of them do seem like things each of us can strive to achieve. So which trait will you work on today?


Susan Botterill, General Manager for Michael Field Pty Ltd.


This blog post was originally posted on EvettField.

Hanging on the Telephone

I recently attended a charity auction and bid on a few silent auction items. I left before the auctions finished, knowing I wouldn’t find out until later if any of my bids were successful.

A few days after the event, the company managing the silent auctions left a voicemail message advising me I had won a number of items and requested I call back on ‘bladakinowantonoafert’ – or at least that is what the number sounded like because it was spoken so quickly!

I replayed the message several times and tried to decipher the garbled number, eventually giving up in despair. I figured if they really wanted to talk to me they would call back – which they did. Unfortunately the next voicemail was spoken in the same hurried and impatient tone, with the return telephone number sounding like ‘bladakinowantonoafert’.

The next day I received a follow up InMail on LinkedIn. I responded promptly and advised them of the issues I experienced with their voicemail messages.

I haven’t heard back yet, but I hope they makes some changes to the way they handle their voicemail messages, or get used to the fact that people might not be able to call them back if they cannot understand the return telephone number.

What is your experience with voicemail? Are people leaving garbled, hurried and impatient messages or are they carefully crafting their message so it is clear, easy to understand and able to be acted on straight away?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.

The “Fast, Good and Cheap” Analogy

In its simplest form, businesses have two growth options:

  • Increase sales
  • Reduce costs

In tough economic times, it can be challenging to grow sales. Cutting costs can appear to be the simplest and most direct way of improving profitability. But at what cost?

Recently our company was invited to submit a proposal on a strategic review of the market, competitors and options for a video production company. The company specialised in mining services and the decline in the mining market had dramatically affected revenues. They were seeking to review their options and understand how they might grow their business outside of their traditional mining markets.

The project was clearly defined in a scope of work. We submitted a proposal that met the requirements and ensured there were sufficiently skilled people and adequate time to complete the work to a very high standard.

It was a competitive pitch and we didn’t win the work. The project was awarded to an organisation that had submitted a quote 50% lower than our proposal. I was perplexed and simply could not understand how anyone could do the work required on such a small budget and still deliver a high standard of work.

It turns out they couldn’t. I telephoned the company a few weeks after the project ended. To their credit, when I asked them how the project went they were honest with me and told me they believed they had made a mistake.

The firm who won the work did not do a good job. Apparently they were underprepared and had not completed even basic market research prior to commencing the project. The available budget was spent on bringing the consultants up to speed, leaving no time or money to do the actual work. What the client was left with was a document that contained interesting facts about their business (which they already knew) and no solutions!

I am reminded of the Fast, Good and Cheap analogy where you are asked to pick any two. The Fast (Time), Good (Quality) and Cheap (Price/Resources) triangle suggests all three properties of a project are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimise all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:

  • Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap
  • Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality
  • Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time

So keep this in mind – if you shop on price alone, you will most likely sacrifice quality and/or time. If you shop for value, you will get quality work that is adequately timed and for the right price.

This blog was originally posted on EvettField.


Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.