While not all leadership styles are the same, FutureYou’s Managing Partner, Emily Wilson has found there are certain traits that all successful leaders share. Em’s on a mission to learn – and share – as much as she can about the leadership mindset from some of Australia’s more remarkable leaders. This week Emily enjoys a glass of champers at a FutureYou local haunt, Eden Bar in the MLC Centre with Elyse Henderson, COO of AUB Group.

In this first part of their discussion, Emily Wilson and Elyse Henderson touch on the true benefits of diversity and the perils of perfection.

Transcript of Part 1 – Diversity and perfection starts here:

Emily: I recently caught up with Elyse Henderson, the COO for AUB Group. What I love about Elyse’s leadership style is her clarity of thought, her generosity, and her ability to always be herself. What we start our conversation with is one of my favourite topics.

Elyse Henderson:  Oh diversity! This is a great one. It’s a really huge question.
I mean, when I think about diversity I think if I was to walk into a room, a boardroom let’s say, with ten other people who looked like me, who were the same age as me, who had the same educational and career background as me, and we all tried to brainstorm a really great idea about what we were going to do for the next five years, we’d end up with a really terrible outcome.

Everyone would be thinking like me, we’d be validating each other’s really great ideas and patting ourselves on the back, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it wouldn’t be the best outcome for the business.

What I would rather see is people who have come from different educational backgrounds, from different countries, from different, you know, areas of Australia, from different careers and so on and so on… coming into the room and saying, ‘I’ve got a really different perspective on this problem that we’re trying to answer, or face into, or the challenge that we’ve got, and it could be really really crazy…’ and that’s what I like, because it stimulates all of the ideas and things that we’ve got the ability to generate within our organisation.

So, same/same is not good. ‘Difference‘ is really valuable to all of our decision making.

Emily: I don’t even need to go anymore with anything else – it’s brilliant!

Emily: In this next bit Elyse shares a personal story about perfection. So, what could make the cool, calm and collected Elyse, uncomfortable?

Elyse Henderson: The opposite of perfect is not imperfect, it’s DONE. And the reason why I say this is that historically I have fallen victim to trying to get things done ‘perfectly‘, but then the dates and things just keep slipping out and things never get done, because the reality is, you can’t do things perfectly.

I spoke to my executive coach about it a few years ago and she gave me a challenge, which I absolutely took up with gusto.

She said, ‘what I want you to do when you start asking people to help you with things or start delegating things to your team, is not to have the perfect idea formed in your mind but to allow them to start messy’. I said, ‘what do you mean by start messy?’ And she said, ‘just sit down with the team member and say, ‘I’ve kind of got an idea about x that I want to do, you go away and have a think about a way that we might be able to do that.’
Rather than feeling like I needed to have the perfect plan already sorted before I could even hand it over to them.

Emily: How did you find it when you were actually trying to do that?

Elyse Henderson: Super uncomfortable!!

Super uncomfortable… because at first, I thought I was letting my team down by not having a clear idea in my mind about what I wanted them to do. When in fact, I was probably taking away some of their autonomy and their ability to be creative in being able to come up with how we could solve a problem in the first place. But I felt really uncomfortable. I felt like I wasn’t doing my job properly.

Emily:  Leadership is not about letting go of the control just for the sake of it, it’s actually about teaching and trusting and I think it’s Elyse’s ability to do that that has enabled her and helped her to become so successful.

For part 2 of Emily’s chat with Elyse, What’s the point? go here  

FutureYou would like to sincerely thank Elyse Henderson for her time and generous, personal sharing. 

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