Maintain agility. This is so crucial in business. Having a sense of urgency and the ability to make quick decisions is easy to do if you’ve empowered your team and encouraged them to come up with creative solutions to unforeseen or tricky problems.

The number one leadership initiative in any organization today is improved coaching. Coaching empowers employees, empowerment drives engagement, and engagement drives performance. At its core, coaching is about transformation. Leading distributed teams requires transforming how we coach and changing our play calls and playbooks to get things done. As a part of our interview series called “Moving From Command & Control to Coaching & Collaboration; How Leaders and Managers Can Become Better Coaches,” we had the pleasure to interview Craig Schutte.

Craig Schutte is Gallagher Security’s Executive Vice President for Asia/Pacific and India, the Middle East, and Africa. With over 31 years in the security industry (24 of those at Gallagher), Craig’s leadership style revolves around building teams and structures that allow room for individuality, where everyone can contribute their strengths in the best possible way. This approach has led to his team driving a massive 400% growth in revenue in just five years, making Australia Gallagher Security’s best-performing global market.

Thank you for joining us to explore a critical inflection point in how we define leadership. Our readers would like to get to know you better. What was a defining moment that shaped who you are as a leader?

I can’t pinpoint any one moment, but I would say that my sports and military backgrounds have had a profound impact on my leadership style and the way I approach challenges.

In both areas, I learned the importance of having a great team behind me. The discipline to keep going against all odds becomes easier when you are surrounded by the best people who not only understand the goal but also have your back. I realized that achieving any meaningful outcome requires a collective effort and the synergy of a high-performing team.

Additionally, I discovered that leadership is not just about external factors but also about understanding oneself. Self-awareness plays a crucial role in effective leadership, as it enables me to recognize my strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. By understanding myself better, I can tap into my own potential and lead by example.

John C. Maxwell is credited with saying, “A leader is someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” How do you embody that quote as a leader?

First and foremost, I believe in the importance of having a clear purpose and executing it effectively. I always try to ensure that my team understands the overarching goals and objectives we are working towards. By providing that clear direction, I aim to empower my team members to align their efforts and make informed decisions in pursuit of our collective vision.

Personally, I constantly seek opportunities for improvement and growth. I have an inherent curiosity and an unwavering desire to explore what could be done better and what is possible. Through modelling the pursuit of continuous improvement, I encourage my team to think innovatively and challenge the status quo. I believe that it’s my responsibility to inspire a culture of forward-thinking and proactively seek avenues for progress.

I describe my leadership style as resilient, authentic, and optimistic. I lead by example and actively demonstrate the behaviors and values that I expect from my team members. I am not detached from the challenges and the process; instead, I am fully committed to experiencing the journey with my team.

Ultimately, I see leadership as a service. I view myself as a coach, guiding and supporting the best team in the world. It is my responsibility to create an environment that fosters individuality and trust. I believe in the potential of each team member and provide them with the autonomy and support they need to thrive. By cultivating trust, I enable my team to think big and make bold decisions that propel us into the future.

How do you define the differences between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach?

The differences between a leader as a manager and a leader as a coach can be defined in several key aspects. Managers are primarily responsible for setting strategic goals, shaping organizational culture, and ensuring operational efficiency. They focus on aligning resources, defining processes, and achieving short-term objectives. Managers are hands-on in the day-to-day operations, overseeing tasks, coordinating activities, and ensuring timely completion of work. Their primary goal is to get things done and drive productivity.

On the other hand, leaders, as coaches, have a broader and longer-term focus. They inspire and coach others, prioritizing the growth and development of their team members. Leaders go beyond managing tasks and operations; they aim to empower individuals to reach their full potential. They provide guidance, support, and mentorship to nurture their team’s skills and capabilities. Leaders as coaches put people and the team first, creating an environment where individuals feel valued and empowered to contribute their best.

Leaders understand the importance of delegation and trust their team members to take on responsibilities. They recognize the abilities of their team and assign tasks accordingly. By delegating effectively, leaders allow their team members to grow, develop new skills, and take ownership of their work. In addition, leaders exhibit empathy and emotional intelligence. They understand and consider the feelings, perspectives, and needs of their team members. They create a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages open communication, collaboration, and personal growth.

Ultimately, leaders as coaches focus on creating an environment that fosters success. They take a long-term perspective, set a vision, and provide strategic direction for the team or organization. They invest in building strong relationships, fostering a positive team culture, and creating an atmosphere where innovation, learning, and continuous improvement can thrive. By combining managerial responsibilities with coaching qualities, effective leaders adapt their approach to the specific needs and context of their team or organization, achieving both short-term results and long-term growth.

We started our conversation by noting that improved coaching is the number one leadership initiative in any organization today. What are some essential skills and competencies that leaders must have now to be better coaches?

To be better coaches, leaders must possess essential skills and competencies that enable them to effectively guide and develop their team members. Firstly, leaders need to lead themselves before they can lead others, demonstrating self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and strong personal values. They should inspire and influence their team members, valuing their input and seeking ideas more than simply directing them.

Being a great coach also requires the ability to be an excellent observer and listener. Leaders should actively listen to their team members, paying attention to their concerns, ideas, and feedback. By observing their team dynamics and individual strengths, leaders can tailor their coaching approach accordingly. Additionally, effective coaches empower their team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work, creating a safe environment for decision-making that encourages growth and innovation.

Recognizing and nurturing talent is another essential skill for leaders as coaches. They should identify and appreciate individual strengths, providing opportunities for team members to shine and develop their skills. By doing so, leaders build confidence and self-belief within their team. Great coaches set clear goals and expectations, communicating them effectively to ensure everyone understands what is expected of them. They create a positive and goal-oriented environment that promotes continuous growth and improvement.

We’re all familiar with the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” How are you inspiring — rather than mandating — leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling?

To inspire leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling, I focus on fostering a culture that embraces personal development and growth. I believe that we are all here for a reason, and nothing happens by mistake. By instilling this mindset, leaders understand the importance of continuous improvement and recognize that their own development is crucial to the success of the team.

I provide a clear vision and plan that outlines the benefits of upskilling and reskilling. I emphasize that we don’t want to be the same as every other team. By investing in personal and professional growth, we can differentiate ourselves, develop unique skills, and stay ahead of the curve. I encourage leaders to see beyond their current capabilities and envision their potential for growth and impact.

It is essential to address the notion that the skills that got us into leadership roles can sometimes hold us back if we don’t let go. I emphasize that as leaders, it is our responsibility to create an environment that nurtures and develops new leaders. By embracing upskilling and reskilling ourselves, we set an example and inspire others to do the same. We foster a culture of continuous learning where leaders create leaders who, in turn, create more leaders.

I emphasize that personal development is a lifelong process that never stops. I encourage leaders to view it as a journey rather than a destination. By promoting a growth mindset, I empower leaders in my team to continuously seek new knowledge, acquire new skills, and adapt to changing circumstances. I provide the resources, support, and opportunities for learning and development, to ensure that our leaders have access to the tools they need to enhance their capabilities.

I also highlight the power of teamwork and collective growth. When a team outgrows individual performance and learns to cultivate team confidence, excellence becomes a reality. I emphasize that upskilling and reskilling are not just individual endeavours but essential for the overall advancement of the team. By investing in our own growth, we contribute to creating a high-performing team that can achieve exceptional results.

Let’s get more specific. How do you coach someone to do their best work? How can leaders coach for peak performance in our current context? What are your “Top 5 Ways That Leaders and Managers Can Be Effective Coaches?”

Number one is that understanding that the key to success is the team. When you look at success this way, it completely changes how you see leadership. It drives you to seek out the potential in each member of the team, and coach them towards fulfilling that potential. It’s kind of like an orchestra; when each musician is playing their part to perfection, that’s when we make beautiful music together.

Number two is allowing enough room for team members to exercise individuality and to contribute their strengths in the best possible way. A great example of this comes from the career progression of several of my team members — I call it ‘identifying the superstars’. They started out in different positions when they joined the team, however, through coaching and listening to what really lights them up, together we’ve identified career pathways that enable them to play to their greatest strengths, achieve their potential and ultimately, get a great sense of satisfaction and purpose in their work. And for me, that’s magic.

Number three is to maintain agility. This is so crucial in business. Having a sense of urgency and the ability to make quick decisions is easy to do if you’ve empowered your team and encouraged them to come up with creative solutions to unforeseen or tricky problems.

Number four is to foster intention, self-belief and purpose. There’s no better way to do this as a leader than by demonstrating it yourself, and by regularly talking about it. My team know that I’m holding them to a higher standard because I hold myself to a higher standard, and I believe that they are capable of achieving our goals.

Number five is to adhere to the tight-loose-tight leadership style. The tight-loose-tight leadership style is an approach that involves providing clear guidance and structure (tight), allowing autonomy and freedom within those boundaries (loose), and then re-establishing direction and control when necessary (tight). It combines clear boundaries and expectations with autonomy and flexibility, striking a balance that maximizes productivity and fosters innovation. By empowering my team and periodically re-engaging to provide guidance, I find that it creates a culture of accountability and drives exceptional results.

We’re leading and coaching in increasingly diverse organizations. And one aspect of workforce diversity on the rise is generational diversity. What advice would you offer about how to effectively coach a multi-generational workforce? And how do you activate the collective potential of a multi-generational workforce?

When coaching a multi-generational workforce, it’s important to approach it with intention and strategy. I find that it’s necessary to take the time to understand the unique perspectives and needs of each generation and adjust your coaching style accordingly. Encourage younger individuals to picture themselves in the future and reflect on how their actions will impact their outcomes. Help them identify their specific goals and guide them in creating actionable steps to achieve them. Make sure to provide context for their actions, such as where and when they’ll take place and who they’ll be interacting with. Support them in finding the necessary resources and assistance to succeed, and create a culture that values success, passion, and making a difference.

To bring out the full potential of a multi-generational workforce, I’ve worked hard to foster an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected, regardless of their age. I encourage collaboration across different generations and provide opportunities for sharing knowledge and learning from one another. It’s important to keep promoting continuous learning by offering ongoing training and development programs that cater to the specific needs and preferences of different age groups. And don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse contributions of individuals from various generations to strengthen their sense of belonging and keep them motivated to excel.

You’re referring to emotional intelligence, in a sense. What are two steps every leader can take to demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence?

To demonstrate a higher level of emotional intelligence, leaders can take two important steps. Firstly, they can cultivate empathy and self-awareness. This involves genuinely understanding and caring about the emotions and experiences of others. Active listening and putting oneself in others’ shoes are essential practices. By acknowledging and validating others’ feelings, leaders can demonstrate empathy. Additionally, leaders should focus on developing self-awareness by reflecting on their own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses. Understanding how their emotions influence their behavior and decision-making is crucial.

Secondly, leaders should choose courage over comfort. Emotional intelligence involves navigating difficult conversations and situations with bravery. Instead of avoiding conflict or uncomfortable discussions, leaders should approach them with honesty, transparency, and respect. They should be willing to address challenging issues, provide constructive feedback, and engage in open and authentic dialogues. By choosing courage over comfort, leaders demonstrate their emotional intelligence and prioritize the growth and well-being of individuals and the organization as a whole. This approach also fosters an environment of trust and psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions.

These steps contribute to building stronger relationships, fostering a positive and inclusive work environment, and making more effective leadership decisions.

Words matter. And we’re collectively creating a new leadership language right now. What are the most important words for leaders to use now?

As leaders, it is crucial to be mindful of the words we choose. Each year, my team and I choose an inspiring slogan that we use to motivate us towards our collective goals — this year’s slogan is “Do Epic”. And this is the type of leadership my team has come to expect from me.

It’s important not only in leading my team, but for myself to use words and phrases as inspiration. Above all, it helps to encourage all of us to foster a mindset of continuous improvement and personal growth.

And while I’m all about creating a safe and positive work environment, I still champion my team to establish high standards and challenge both themselves and their colleagues to surpass conventional expectations.

I try to use words that ignite enthusiasm and dedication by exemplifying my own passion and encouraging others to explore and pursue their passions. It’s my belief that passion fuels motivation, creativity, and a sense of purpose for both leaders and team members.

By reflecting on and being mindful of your leadership language, leaders can inspire their teams, cultivate a positive and engaging work environment, and foster a mindset of continuous improvement and growth. These words empower excellence, passion, collaboration, and resilience, enabling leaders and their teams to thrive in the face of challenges and attain remarkable outcomes.

I keep inspiring quotes on my desk. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote,” and why does it mean so much to you?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes” is “fulfill your potential.” These three simple words hold profound meaning for me. They serve as a daily reminder to wake up with the intention of giving my best in everything I do and to continuously strive for personal growth and improvement.

This quote resonates deeply because it encapsulates the belief that each individual possesses untapped potential waiting to be realized. It reminds me to approach each day with a sense of purpose and determination, knowing that I have the capacity to make a positive impact and achieve great things.

For me, this quote extends beyond personal fulfillment. It also highlights the importance of recognizing and nurturing the untapped potential in others. It emphasizes the value of empowering and inspiring those around us to unlock their own capabilities, supporting them in their journey towards personal and professional growth.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation. What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

I’d be thrilled to connect with other like-minded leaders on LinkedIn.

Thank you for sharing your insights. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.