Nothing ‘Soft’ About Leadership Skills – 5 Principles To Live And Lead By

19th April 2023

In this op-ed, Geoff Donaghy, CEO, ICC Sydney and Group Director – Convention Centres, ASM Global (APAC) shares his experience of leading through challenging times and presents his five principles of effective leadership that can be applied by anyone striving to build a successful career.

Good leadership is a much discussed and dissected concept in the world of business events. Often categorised as a ‘soft’ skill – to deliver effective leadership requires a broad range of attributes – from empathy, to resilience, business acumen, positivity and emotional intelligence. When done right, it has the potential to motivate a team, to inspire innovation, and bring people together to overcome the challenges of even the toughest of times and ultimately triumph. 

I have experienced the trials and tribulations of many key milestones in our industry’s history – the impact of various economic cycles including the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, natural disasters from bushfires to floods, geopolitical tensions and even most recently through the pandemic – through each of these periods of great flux and uncertainty, I have aimed to live and lead by five key principles. 

Whether I’m leading a team of one, a team of hundreds or an entire industry sector, I have found over the years of my 40-year management career, that I can distil the principles of effective leadership into what I like to call the Five Cs. 

To present the first of the Five Cs – clarity – a good leader ensures that every member of their team understands precisely what their role and responsibilities are through regular and clear communication. To lead with clarity means to actively foster an environment where your team members’ curiosity is encouraged and they feel comfortable to ask for any clarification they need to deliver their role. I often remind team members that they should never go home wondering – and if leaders are truly effective – they will support this notion through clear communication. 

Secondly, collaboration based on respectful communication and good listening ensures that everyone’s skills are brought together to develop the solutions that will drive an organisation forward. As we say here at ICC Sydney – together we do the extraordinary – and that is why collaboration is so important – when our diverse knowledge and skills combine in a collaborative environment, we can achieve extraordinary results. Reflected in overwhelmingly positive comments and feedback, in most recent reporting period, ICC Sydney achieved a 99% satisfaction rating as evaluated by both our clients and delegates. 

Thirdly, leading with consistency in the ICC Sydney context, means that we strive to deliver our clients’ events successfully time and time again, helping to build our clients’ trust in our capability, all the while building our reputation on the global stage. Consistency in a leader’s daily demeanour and behaviour is also a fundamental requirement.

Leading with confidence is a trait of good leaders. When everyone is confident in their role and understands their responsibilities, your customers will also have the confidence that their events will be delivered seamlessly according to the agreed plans. 

Finally, the care leaders show clients, stakeholders, the community and the environment is critical to good leadership. Perhaps most importantly, is the care that leaders show towards their internal team members. By being thoughtful, checking in and supporting each other – leaders and their teams can get through even the most challenging of situations. 

These five attributes – claritycollaborationconsistencyconfidence and care have certainly underpinned my approach to effective leadership, as well as provided a guiding framework for the leaders in my organisation who nurture, develop and manage people. 

But they are not reserved for leaders alone – everyone can apply these principles as they work to build a career based on integrity, trust and connection. 

Hit enter to search or ESC to close