Think Followership, Not Leadership

By Isabelle Walker

Having people want to follow you, he said, was just as important as having the natural and learned skills of leadership. They work hand in hand. Respect and admiration are the keys to gaining followership, he declared: you cannot treat your employees with disrespect and expect them to go above and beyond for you.


The theme of today’s Business over Breakfast was leadership, and keynote speaker Mark Bouris just flipped my thinking on its head.

Bouris’ speech exemplified why the business leader has been so successful in his career, from Wizard, to Celebrity Apprentice, to Yellow Brick Road.

From anecdotes about being pushed to his limit by Kerry Packer, to explaining why being involved in every level of your business is the key to success (“you must descend deep into the bowels of your business and wrestle in the mud with your employees”), the choice of Bouris as the keynote speaker enthused guest with the vitality and wisdom the Branson-like businessman brings.

Bouris, emphasised adaptation and unorthodox thinking as the two skills required to be a successful leader, in business or otherwise.

The first was adaptation to situations that one cannot control.

The second was an unorthodox approach to thinking about what your job actually is - the why beyond the how. Whether you sell coffee or sell home loans, he said, what mattered was the larger purpose – not just profits. Understanding what your company or your role means for your customers, clients or stakeholders is the most critical element of leadership and success.

I asked Alexandra Mayhew about – our why – and she said: Wells Haslem’s why, our purpose , is not just providing public relations services, it’s about people and it’s about trust. We provide our clients with the security that we can get the job done, not only well, but in a manner whereby they can relax, knowing they’ve got the best people on the job, people to protect their reputations, people they can trust.

The Business over Breakfast event saw special guests Dan Hannebery and Josh Kennedy of the Sydney Swans give their personal takes on what it is to lead. Swans leadership has been quite unique in the last decade and Hannebery believes it has been the key to their success in recent years.

Australian recruitment start-up, SpotJobs hosted a Business over Breakfast this morning at the University of NSW. It was the first official event for “The Spotters Club”, a group organised by SpotJobs to facilitate networking among the business community.