Peter Berry on becoming a better leader
Peter established Peter Berry Consultancy (PBC) over 25 years ago and is an accomplished keynote speaker, facilitator and executive coach. He has worked with hundreds of organisations across all industries, teachers in business schools and coaching hundreds of CEOS around his pragmatic philosophy of measuring and improving the performance of organisations and individuals. Here, Peter shares his thoughts on how senior managers can become great leaders.
What do you believe is the best way to practice leadership?
My passion lies with helping organisations deliver business excellence and employee engagement. I have always thought that science should inform practice and to that end we are proud to be the Australian distributor of Hogan Assessments. We rely on these assessments for selection, development, self-awareness and team building. We also believe that leadership can be built by using 360, high performing team assessment and employee engagement assessments.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that leadership is both measurable and improvable. Being a great leader drives engagement which in turn drives performance. This improves productivity, safety, profitability and reduces absenteeism and turnover.
Leaders should have a strategic plan in place for their business that’s communicated to employees and focuses on driving results. If you can align leadership and people around shared goals you’re off to a great start.
What qualities make up the ideal successful leader?
On your journey to becoming a great leader it’s about work ethic, experience and IQ. Then to become that successful leader, you need to have people skills, a positive attitude and EQ (emotional intelligence). Great leaders make the right judgement call on the big issues and focus on business excellence and employee engagement. They have high levels of true self-awareness and are conscious of having a great brand around likeability and capability.
What’s your top advice for aspiring leaders?
Building emotional intelligence (EQ) is key. This involves having people skills so that you can get along and get ahead. The people skills add warmth to competence. Resilience is also a key component of EQ. This involves maintaining positive thoughts and energy.
Aspiring leaders also need to be strategic in their business planning, setting key performance indicators, building employee and customer engagement and delivering service and operational excellence.
What are some key leadership lessons you’ve learnt over the years?
People skills are the one big differentiator between being a good and bad leader. Leadership is about delivering results. Teams deliver results, therefore, a leader should be measured by the culture and performance of their team. Many teams are dysfunctional which impacts business performance. The concept of “One team, One plan” is critical to getting everyone on the same page.
One in 10 leaders shouldn’t be on the payroll. They need to be improved or removed. Many executives do not realise the damage that a bad manager can do to staff engagement. From our 360 research we have found the biggest opportunity for managers is challenging poor performers.
What managers do when the work pressure is on is default to their strengths. They work in the business and not on the business, which is being operational not strategic. This doesn’t leave any time to deal with poor performers.
The best businesses I’ve worked on have made business excellence and employee engagement part of their DNA.
Tell us more about your new book The CEO Checklist.
The book is an interactive thought leadership guide around how to build and sustain a successful business. The concept of a checklist is new for the majority of senior managers. I’ve seen them used in hospitals and aviation, but hardly ever in business.
We have 50 questions where you can mark the items as red, yellow or green, and then discuss strengths and opportunities and commit to an action plan.
The book is based on the premise that business excellence and employee engagement deliver a return on investment.
The checklist can get the difficult issues on the table for discussion and allows teams to identify gaps in current business practices. It defines six steps to building leadership excellence and six steps for delivering business excellence.