S7 Ep 03: What does good leadership look like?

Dr Mike Allan

On this week’s episode of the WarriorU podcast, Bram is joined by renowned organisational psychologist Dr Mike Allan who paints a clear picture of what a good leader does and produces. By the end of the episode, you’ll be able to identify nine essential leadership behaviours that will allow you to create more effective, productive and satisfied people.

A Glimpse of the Guest

What he does: Hailing from the UK and now living in Australia, Dr Mike Allan is a transformational leadership expert, focusing on aligning people with purpose to achieve exceptional outcomes. As the Director of MLQplus, a leadership consultancy in Melbourne, Mike specialises in the development of leaders and leadership culture across many industries, including banking, aviation and government. He blends his practical commercial experience with his academic knowledge to help people unleash their full potential. Mike is recognised as one of the world’s top proponents of the ‘Full Range of Leadership Model’, which focuses on the behaviours of leaders within various work environments.

Food for Thought

[16:13] on Sir Winston Churchill – “Post-war, even when people said ‘we don’t want you as our leader’…but to see what happened when he died, and his funeral, and how he was revered and what people measured him by – is it popularist? I’m not sure.”

Top Tips from this Episode

Good leadership produces three outcomes

  1. Extra distortionary effort or productivity – Your people should want to do more for you.
  2. Effectiveness – Your people should know what they should and shouldn’t be doing, and when they are and aren’t doing a good job.
  3. Satisfaction – Your people should enjoy working for you.

“If whatever you are doing doesn’t in some way contribute to these three outcomes, then why are you doing it?” [10:16]

The ‘Full Range of Leadership’ model says there are nine factors of leadership that – when done in the right way – produce those three outcomes:

  1. Transformational behaviours: trust, integrity, inspiring others, innovative thinking, coaching and supporting.
  2. Transactional behaviours: Reward and monitor mistakes.
  3. Passive avoidant behaviours: Aim to minimise these behaviours to enhance the transactional and transformational.

Episode Highlights

Self-awareness as vital to good leadership: Using Sir Winston Churchill as an example, Dr Allan explains why self-awareness and reflection after failure are vital to good leadership. If things go well, identify the behaviours that led to the success and understand how to replicate them. If you make a mistake, ask yourself how you can do things differently next time. “If leaders aren’t constantly looking at themselves and thinking ‘what would I do differently?’, ‘What have I learnt?’, ‘how does that look?’, then they are never going to advance.” [17:58].

Dr Allan explains the concept of trust and how it produces the three outcomes of good leadership. To build trust, he says to:

  • Understand and practice empathy: For some leaders, empathy is natural while for others it’s a learnt skill. “Empathy is understanding someone’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it”. Let that person talk, actively listen and then try to understand how they might think that way. Dr Allan provides an example of a leader who physically couldn’t practice empathy.
  • Get to know your values: Leaders need to be clear about what their values are, so they know what they will/won’t stand for, support and say. Leadership based on popular opinion fails because popular opinion changes. “Leaders that can talk about their values and then are congruent with those values, develop trust. And trust is fundamental to leadership.”

Top quotes

[16:36]: “You are not always popular if you’re a good leader because you have to make decisions that are difficult.”

[43:36]: “Leadership is incredibly demanding. To be a good leader, you need to look after yourself and look after your wellbeing. You need to be fit and healthy, because you are constantly giving to other people.”

[49:15]: “It starts with self-awareness: who am I? Because if I can’t reconcile this with who I am, it’s going to show. Authenticity comes from values, not from good acting”.


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