It was a pleasure to have a personal leadership conversation on the Leadership Platform Show on CliffCentral.com with Juliette Fourie, MD of Metrominds. To be chosen as Boss of the Year is a prestigious award. It is especially so that this year’s winner is a leader of a small business as opposed to leaders of larger organisations chosen in the past.
Women leaders often bring a special dimension to the many leadership conversations with top achievers we have held over the years. Juliette was no exception to this pattern. We can all learn from her. She was pretty much at home before the microphone and some penetrating questions asked by the hosts of the show.
The foundation of all exceptional leaders is that of character that can withstand the pressures of their jobs. Juliette is passionate about what she does, about learning about leadership being a lifelong process, and about a sincere desire to live her values. She believes in team dynamics and that every member of the team is expected to pull their weight and be innovative contributors.
The word boss is not really in her vocabulary
Although she won the prestigious Boss of the Year award, the word ‘boss’ is not really part of her vocabulary. It was refreshing to hear her comment on her involvement with her team and service to their customers rather than the idea of being the boss of the company! It is also interesting to note that the award in future will focus on the title of ‘leader’ rather than ‘boss’. This makes perfect sense to us at Leadership Platform.
Leadership essences discussed with Juliette
The following leadership principles were discussed with Juliette. Leadership is all about essences as opposed to wastage of human capital and opportunities.
- Good leadership demands a passion for perpetual learning. We find this attitude amongst most if not all of the top performers we invite to our show. The opposite of not having a learning attitude brings negative connotations in our minds, such as arrogance, laziness, selfishness and negative values. Juliette does not evoke such negative feelings! Quite the opposite. She is keen to listen and learn all the time
- Listen to other people’s stories. This is an interesting comment. She believes that as we listen to other people’s stories, we get to know them and often learn valuable lessons as well. It follows that you cannot really serve others if we do not listen to them.
- Attitude is everything. From our experience a multitude of top performers would agree with her. It is very difficult to be an effective and inspirational leader if we do not have a positive service orientated attitude towards others and towards our environment in general.
- A good leader lives his or her values. We agreed passionately on the show that people sense and feel whether leaders practice what they preach. Being authentic and confident enough to be vulnerable are key attributes of good leaders.
Challenges of the small business leader
Being a smaller size business leader has challenges that may be unique to their business. Those of us who want to be successful entrepreneurs and go into business should be aware of some of the pitfalls.
We asked Juliette about some of these challenges:
- Fear of failure Every day is challenging to the small business owner because it is so easy to fail. This is a constant challenge to the small business owner, she says. He or she must be prepared to face this feeling and develop the kind of confidence that empowers them to move situations in a positive direction.
- Getting business Obviously the major function of a small business is to get business, often against the big boys. Alan Hosking, a co-host of the show mentioned that the challenge on the one hand is not to get enough business and then to get too much business that you cannot handle without the necessary capital and structure around you.
- Cash flow This is often a make or break challenge, especially when the larger customer does not pay on time as agreed beforehand. It is not all that easy to get proper financial support from banks for example to help carry the small business over the difficult patches.
Defining good leadership
Juliette’s understanding of good leadership is as follows:
‘Be completely passionate to do something worthwhile. Do not be scared to do the right thing. Have integrity. Keep on learning!’
Thanks Juliette for your passion!