Emily Wilson is on a mission to learn – and share – as much as she can about leadership from Australia’s most respected leaders. That’s the idea behind the What I Love About video series… or WILA for short.

While not all leadership styles are the same, Emily has found there are certain, basic traits that earmark all successful leaders. This week Emily enjoys a glass of wine at the stunning Butler Restaurant in Sydney’s Potts Point, with Alison Harrop, the Group CFO at Dexus – an inspiring Australian leader.

In this episode, they discuss letting go, vulnerability, EQ and receptivity as important indicators of successful people.

Transcript of the video starts here:

Emily: What I love about Alison’s leadership style is her candour, her authenticity, and real, open mindset, and everything that that entails. We start with one simple question and that is:

What does successful leadership look like, and how do you get there?

Alison Harrop: When I started to really get some success in my career was when I kind of learnt to let go a little of some of the stuff. So, that goes for, don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t get hung up on things, don’t micromanage don’t… you know…

Emily: Give away some other control. See what happens…

Alison Harrop: Right, exactly. Give away some of that control, lay yourself… you know… expose yourself in a way. Because then people start to see you for who you really are. And most of us are actually really good people deep down, and somebody will find something that they like in you and will then start to listen to you and follow you.  But I think there’s this tendency – that you have to behave a certain way, you have to look a certain way, you have to say the right things, you have to…  That sweating the small stuff can get you really kind of just too constricted. But allowing yourself to trust your instinct rather than ‘I need fifty pages of a document and I need this spreadsheet and I need this and I need that…’

You gotta let some of that go.

Emily: What I love about Alison’s perspective on ‘Letting Go’,  is that it has as much to do with personal authenticity as it does trust in your teams.  I love what she goes on here to say about EQ and the role that self-awareness has to play in leadership.

Do you think that people can learn to develop their EQ?

Alison Harrop: I think it depends on the individuals as to how much they want to move into that space. So, I think you can teach it if someone’s willing to learn. I think a lot of people are very resistant to it.

Emily: It’s hard to break down that resistance isn’t it?  But, if they’re open to it, it’s coachable.

Alison Harrop: Well it comes right back to this thing about being authentic.  Because if you’re not comfortable in your own skin then you’re not going to be comfortable saying, ‘You know what, I’m really not great at EQ, I’m great at the IQ stuff but I’m really not great at EQ.’ So many execs I meet, will get the feedback and then go, ‘That’s lovely. I’ll take that report and I’ll put it right down here in the bottom drawer and I’m never going to look at it again. Because that’s way too confronting and you’re telling me that I need to be open and honest, I need to tell people about my flaws and my mistakes…’ And people won’t do that.

I’ve learnt that, well we’ve done LSI we’re done 360s, I’ve given all of my direct reports my results and said,

‘Here, read this. This is who I am. This is why I behave the way I behave. I’m working on it and I’m learning…’

But, again not everyone will want to do that because they’ll be worried that suddenly, ‘I’m gonna get judged, and people are gonna think differently of me.’.

Emily: Or they’ve got too much ego.

Alison: Exactly, yes.

Emily: An open-minded confidence based on authenticity, but no ego, is what defines Allison Harrop’s leadership style. I believe if you can’t do it yourself – you can’t expect it of others.

What I love about… is a video series that allows you to zoom in on the brilliance of outstanding leadership in a candid environment, and to more holistically consider the approach of successful

“I want your business to succeed and I believe this can be achieved by creating a pipeline of sharper, better, stronger leaders. Sharing how others have done this benefits all future leaders, which ultimately benefits everyone.”

Emily Wilson FutureYou sincerely thanks Alison Harrop for her time and generous, personal sharing. 

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We’d also like to thank The Butler in Potts Point for facilitating the lunch and the camera crew.