Great Leaders Only Serve Their Teams says This Leadership Advisor

You are only as good as the people around you, says Mark Bilton

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Leading 40 countries as the Group Managing Director of one of the most popular coffee chains in the world is no cake walk.

Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

When it comes to culture, strategy and transformational change, Mark Bilton raises his hand as among the best in the world. In 2011 he was awarded the Young President's Organization's prestigious "Terry Plochman Award' for global "Best of the Best". He has also bagged the Michael Page "2014 Australian Retail Executive Award'.

But having led Gloria Jean's Coffees' global business as the Group MD is not Bilton's only feat.

His Director expertise and experience includes positions in Charles Parsons Group, POD Limited (NZX), Hagemeyer Brands Australia and non-executive positions in more than 6 other companies.

In his current role as the Managing Director of leadership advisory – Thought Patrol – his mission has been to reframe leadership and humanize the workplace.

Entrepreneur Asia Pacific caught up with Bilton for his perspective on various aspects of leadership. Below are the excerpts.

You believe in hacking leadership – how can this be done?

Leadership in the industrial revolution has been command and control. That style is no longer effective; to remain fast, focused and flexible, leaders need to be more transparent, collaborative and empowering. In my leadership practice, we talk about hacking leadership. It is about challenging leaders thinking and helping them be more effective. When we change how we think, we change how we act.

What is the biggest challenge in managing a company?

You can never manage by yourself, by definition leaders need people to lead. The greatest challenge for leaders is creating an environment where the team can be effective.

Who makes a good leader according to you?

Great leaders activate a team – they act as a catalyst to release potential. Good leaders are transparent, authentic and collaborative. They have an ability to clarify, simplify and define reality. They can galvanize a team to action and create a sense of purpose. Ultimately, great leaders serve their teams.

In your twenty years as a turnaround specialist, what has been learning?

You are only as good as the people around you. Hire the best, agree on what needs to happen, and let them get on with it. It sounds so simple but we make business way to complex. There is power in simplicity.

What would you count as the best advice given to your leadership team as the MD of Gloria Jean's Coffee?

In a massive turnaround with a high degree of urgency, the best advice was to keep focus on the simple outcomes required for success. Business is full of noise and distractions; clarity of actions and outcomes is critical for a positive result. If you major on the majors you can't sweat the small stuff. This creates momentum and momentum creates progress.

What are the top 5 strategies to lead a company?

  • Be visible.
  • Be authentic.
  • Collaborate to build a clear vision.
  • Create a culture of trust, respect, and honour for all, regardless of role.
  • Empower your team to act.