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#43: Leadership on the High Seas

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Nigel Stoke, alias ‘Skipper’, Director at Pandora Securities  reflects on his 2016 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race experience. After 2 days of exhilarating high-speed ocean racing, things took a turn for the worse. As Nigel says “when things go wrong, they always go wrong when it’s pitch black in the middle of the night and to make matters worse they were in 25-knot winds in the Bass Strait!”.

Fortunately, Nigel’s 20 years of leadership experience equipped him to make that all-important split-second judgment call – knowing the difference between the urgent and the important. The foundation of any high-performing team is trust and as Nigel recounts they pulled off, what other crews would have thought impossible!


Stephanie: Welcome to TEC Live. Stephanie Christopher here, CEO of The Executive Connection. We connect leaders with a trusted network of people who help them succeed.

Leah: I’m really excited, Steph, today about your guest because I’ve heard little bits and pieces, and I think this is going to be a fabulous chat.

Stephanie: It’s good. I’m excited too. My very special guest is Nigel Stoke, who’s the fullback for Stoke City. Oh, no, that’s another Nigel Stoke. We were saying before, if you Google Nigel Stoke, this wild larrikin in the UK comes up. In fact, I have a wild larrikin born in the UK, but living in Australia for a long time as our very special guest today on TEC Live. Nigel is so many things. Fundamentally, he is someone who is passionate about business. He’s passionate about success of business, of business leaders. He’s had a history of investing and taking over a number of small and mid-sized businesses. He’s on the board of a number of businesses right now working with family offices, portfolio and financial investments. Certainly, with his time as chairman of the board on TEC, The Executive Connection, which is the host of TEC Live, as well as the board of PWN, Private Wealth Network. So Nigel has much to tell us about today on our topic of leadership. Nigel Stoke, welcome to TEC Live.

Nigel: Thanks, Stephanie. A very unusual experience for me to be sitting on this side of the desk.

Stephanie: It is, it’s very unusual, and I don’t know how often we just sit and look at each other, but we’re doing well. We’re going to start with a really interesting story. Tell us about your boat, Fidelis.

Nigel: Ah, now this probably hasn’t got much to do with management or careers, but actually-

Stephanie: Passion.

Nigel: … it’s been a passion for most of my life. So I grew up as a Pom in the UK, about as far from the sea as you could. But my dad was an enthusiast and a sailor, and because we couldn’t get anywhere near the sea, the only time we ever went on boats was for our summer holidays. So not for us going off to a flash resort or even in the car. We’d go and find a boat and go sailing.

Stephanie: Wow.

Nigel: So that’s where that all came from.

Stephanie: On your holidays, where would you be sailing?

Nigel: It originated on the rivers. So the River Thames, then the Norfolk Broads, then the South Coast, and then different parts of the South Coast, the Isle of Wight, and then France, Holland, Denmark, Mediterranean. By that time I was probably 16 or 17 and took off.

Stephanie: Right, okay. Interesting. And your own boat, Fidelis?

Nigel: Well, there’s a story. So I’d owned a couple of boats before getting hold of Fidelis. So fast-forward to 1994, and that was designated as the 50th year of the Sydney Hobart. So the first Sydney Hobart was in the year as the war was finishing, 1945. There’s enough history around that that people will know. And so the 50th year was 1994. Typically, they’d been 50 boats, 40 boats, 30 boats, 100 boats maximum. This 1994 year, they announced it’s going to be a big bonanza, and they wanted as many boats to come as they could. In fact, there were 380 or something at starters. It’ll never happen again, but that’s what happened. The crew that was sailing with me at the time in my other boat said, ‘Well, Nigel, why don’t we go on the 50th Sydney Hobart?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea.’ But we’re not going to go in the boat that I then had. And they said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. Why don’t you go and get another one?’

Stephanie: They had your measure. Yeah.

Nigel: So we got a list of about 40 boats that we thought would qualify historically for what was called the veteran or vintage divisions. The veteran and vintage divisions was for the age of the boat, not the age of the crew.

Stephanie: Yeah. I was going to be polite there. Yep.

Nigel: So I found this boat, Fidelis, in Auckland and flew over there to have a look at it, and bought it on the spot, and then sailed it back to Sydney. We were back in time for that 50th Sydney to Hobart. By that time, Fidelis was 30 years old. It had been launched in 1964. The designs came from the 1930s. So the Kiwis had actually stolen the designs because they couldn’t afford to buy them, built the boat in ’64, and the boat had then raced in the Sydney Hobart in 1966. It sailed across to Sydney, became the laughing stock of the waterfront in Sydney, because they said, ‘That boat will never get to Hobart.’ The outcome was that they won and won by a rather commanding margin. It was over 17 hours, which in its day and still is one of the largest margins ever for a winning yacht.

Stephanie: I’ve seen the boat and heard it described as, ‘The wettest ride to Hobart.’

Nigel: Yeah. Well, people say that. You need a snorkel to-

Stephanie: It’s very close to the water, isn’t it?

Nigel: … get through the waves. It’s improved since then. So that was 1966, the win. I bought the boat for the 50th Sydney Hobart Race 1994 and have owned it ever since. Then in 2006, it was the 40th anniversary of Fidelis winning, and no boat had ever done 40 years race on race, so we did that in 2006. Then we’re still around and getting older, and the boat’s still in good shape. So 2016 we take off for what’s going to be the 50th anniversary-

Stephanie: The 50th anniversary.

Nigel: … of Fidelis winning the Hobart in 1966. So, that’s the backstory.

Stephanie: Fantastic. So 50 years on from Fidelis’ gloriest of glory days. Take us back to the Sydney to Hobart 2016.

Nigel: So I was glancing at that logbook that you can see here and trying to remind myself what it was like. It starts on Boxing Day, one o’clock, off goes the gun. We got a lot of press ahead of the race. We were on several TV slots. Actually, the Channel 7 coverage of the actual race start had a lot of us in it. So the pressure was on a little bit. The start of the race is always quite hectic, and it’s particularly hectic in an old boat that doesn’t go around corners very well compared to some of the hot fliers. But we got out through the heads and took off. The weather was particularly favourable for us. So we were stonking off down the coast.

Stephanie: Let me just stop at this point. Tell me about your crew.

Nigel: So there’s some important things here, which I reflected on before we had the conversation today. There were eight, including me. All of those had raced together for some years. More than half of those had raced with me for over 20 years. So we had a group that knew each other very well, and we’d been planning this particular race trip for eight or nine months ahead of, actually, the race day. So I think each person on the crew knew what the team was doing. They each knew what their own particular role was. And so it actually went like clockwork.

Stephanie: Did you have a younger member of the crew with you sometime?

Nigel: Well, I don’t talk about averages very much here, but there were. The youngest was mid-thirties. There were a couple of mid-forties, one mid-fifties ex-TEC member, and then a few just a little bit older than that.

Stephanie: Tenured. More tenured.

Nigel: More experienced.

Stephanie: So was the word you just said, ‘Stonking down the coast’? Is that what you said?

Nigel: Well, yeah, we were going really very fast for a boat like Fidelis, and that was just exhilarating. Some of that footage on the YouTube, which we’ll get to, but some of that footage came actually for that two days going down the coast.

Stephanie: Yeah. So it was a good couple of days. You were making good speed. There’s a word that came to mind when you were talking about your crew and that was trust, the foundation of any functional or high-performing team.

Nigel: The crew always say to me, ‘So, Skip,’ they say, ‘we’ll talk for the race.’ So we practiced. They did a fair bit of preparation before we went. And I said, ‘Look, there’s three rules here. First rule is you look after yourself. So personal safety is number one. Second thing is boat safety. And the third thing is we’ll get to Hobart as quickly as we can.’ So there’s nothing about racing to win. It’s about doing the very best we can.

We actually had a debate about whether it was more important to keep the boat safe or keep the person safe. There’s a very interesting thing about leadership there, that you could reflect on whether it’s actually more important to keep the boat safe. Because if you’re 200 miles in the middle of Bass Strait, you actually do quite want the boat to still be afloat. But I think personal safety actually overrides that. So take care of yourself.
Don’t do anything silly. Don’t do handsprings on the foredeck where you’re going to fall off because, actually, then you’re risking everybody else. Person first, then the boat, and then we’ll get there as quickly as we can.

Stephanie: It’s fantastic.

Nigel: That’s kind of the mantra that they had, and that was quite useful then when we got into the second night.

Stephanie: Yeah. So aligned around a common purpose. What happened on the second night?

Nigel: Well, I read the logbook, and I won’t read what’s in the logbook because it’s not very attractive, but we were all racing through the night. We were doing 14 or 15 knots, which is extremely fast for that boat. And it’s black. So it’s dark. So we’re operating watches or shifts so that some are sleeping and some are up, and there’s a whole rotation and a program for that. As always, things that go wrong always go wrong at about two o’clock in the morning on a dark night, and that’s exactly what happened.

So I’d gone off watch at midnight, I’d just turned in, and about 15 minutes later young Tom comes, taps me on the shoulder, and he says, ‘Skip, we’ve got a problem.’ And I thought, ‘Well, that’s good that it’s we.’ And so I said, ‘What’s happened?’ He said, ‘Oh, the boom’s cracked, and it looks like it’s going to break. And we think we should take some action.’ So I’m out of the bunk, as was everybody else, on deck within about three and a half seconds. The first thing was then to take the pressure off the boat and take the pressure off the rig, because if the boom went, that could seriously injure anybody on the deck.

Stephanie: Remind those of us who aren’t sailors, the boom?

Nigel: The mast is the bit that goes vertical, and the boom’s the bit that goes horizontal.

Stephanie: That swings around. Well, it sort of moves around.

Nigel: Yeah.

Stephanie: You have to duck under it, don’t you?

Nigel: The boom would be heavy-ish. So two people could probably carry it, but a bit more. So if that broke and was a wild bit of metal flying around on the deck, that would be actually not a good look. So the first and important thing, it was incredibly urgent to prevent any further damage and make sure that it was safe for people to then sort out what was going on.

So we just dropped all the sails. We had a spinnaker up, so that’s why we were flying along. So we dropped the spinnaker, dropped the main, and put up a small so-called storm headsail. So we went from 15 odd knots surfing down the waves to about four or five knots. Because most of the crew knew then we were okay, the boat was safe, we were extremely disappointed because we thought we were doing very, very well.

Then there were a few things that had to happen. So the navigator knew that he had to contact race control. So we’re on the HF radio, because you’re obliged to report in any damage, and they said, ‘Are you retiring?’ So they looked around at me, and I said, ‘No.’ And they all said, ‘Yeah, that’s great,’ because we had spent eight or nine months doing all this. And so, are we retiring? ‘No.’ So then we said, ‘Well, we need to tidy up what we’ve got and make it safe.’

By that time, it’s about two o’clock in the morning. The boat’s only ambling along. I said to the crew, ‘We’ve done what was urgent. Let’s now pause and think about what’s important.’ And so I said, ‘I’m going to turn in and go back to sleep because it’s two o’clock in the morning. It would be extremely difficult to do anything constructive in the dark. So all get back onto your normal watches, your normal shifts, and all have a think about what we need to do to fix this boom,’ which was visual, looking like a V, sagging with only a tiny bit of metal holding it all together.

And so that’s what we did. So I went in and, actually, I slept for two and a half, three hours or something or other. While I was sleeping, I’ve found in life it kind of happens, you come up with a few ideas about what might happen. Fortunately, on the crew, we had some very good, innovative thinkers and a couple of extremely practical hands-on guys who could help out. Anyway, we concocted a plan at daylight because we’d realised we had a problem if we could sail there, but sail slowly. And we said, ‘We didn’t really want to do that. So let’s see if we can find a way of mending this boom.’ The boom’s made of aluminum, and it’s broken, so trying to fix that is extremely difficult in the middle of Bass Strait. We’ve done 300 miles, so we’re kind of halfway there, and we told race control, and we’re kind of moving on.

So we came up with a plan. We realised that in the bottom part of the boat, there are five large stainless tanks, there’s two diesel tanks and three water tanks, but they’re held down with stainless steel straps, which are a couple of inches in metric measure by about a quarter inch thick. But they’re very solid, very strong steel straps, and they run the length of the bottom of the boat. So we said, ‘If we could get two of those pulled out, we could then maybe bolt and fix those to the side of this boom and put it all back together again.’ I suppose that was partly me thinking that through because I knew where all this stuff was.

Then some would say, well, fortuitously, we had a battery powered angle grinder, we had one of the guys who was an experienced metal machinist, and we had another guy who was an experienced carpenter. So what we concocted was these steel straps, we cut them up so that they were about a meter long and put four of these around the boom. Then we had a few spare ropes, as you do, on the boat, and these ropes in today’s world are Kevlar and those sorts of materials, so they don’t stretch. So we got about 10 bits of rope and some tape. So we taped it all up to start with, then we put these ropes around and put tourniquets on the ropes to try and tighten up the stainless steel straps onto these booms. We couldn’t find out what to do with the tourniquet or how to make the tourniquet. So we actually used all the spoons in the crockery-

Stephanie: No.

Nigel: … locker to wind the tourniquets up to get it pretty solid. Then once we got it solid, we were reasonably confident that the boom would hold together, but we thought we’d better try and tighten up even more than we could with these tourniquets. So the guy who was actually a very good carpenter came up with the idea that we get… There was a wooden bread board. So he got the wooden bread board, and we had a saw, and we cut up some long thin wedges out of the bread board. Then we had a hammer. So we hammered in these wedges into what were the tourniqueted ropes. So we then finished up with, if you like, a structured bandage about a meter long, half a meter either side of the break.

So at that stage, about another couple of hours had gone. It’s about 7:30 in the morning. And so they all look at me and they say, ‘Well, Skip, what do you think?’ I said, ‘Well, let’s give it a go.’ So we said, ‘Well, we’ll hoist the main again, but we’ll leave a reef in.’ A reef in a main means it’s slightly smaller than full size. Also, if it’s slightly smaller, then it will compress the boom and not stretch the boom. So we hoisted the sail, put a reef in, checked the boom, cut up a few more bits of wood that we found to whack a few more wedges in, and we were going again.

So we ring race control and say, ‘Look, we’re back in action, and we’re going to put a spinnaker up, and we’ll do a slightly different course.’ Every boat in the Sydney Hobart is tracked every minute of the day online by race control and by all the other competitors. So everybody knows where everybody else is. One of the concerns was, particularly for those at home who didn’t know what was going on-

Nigel: … is we were ramping along this nice straight line at 15 knots-

Stephanie: And then you sort of-

Nigel: … and suddenly we stopped in the middle of the night.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nigel: And they think, ‘Not so good.’ We didn’t think about them much, actually, until a bit later. But at least the race control and safety people knew what was going on.

Stephanie: What a great story. So two things come to mind. One is when I’ve heard that story before, I always think of Apollo 11, when the guys are stuck up there and they get into a coffee, a board table and figure out something. I love that. Can I talk about your decision to go back to sleep?

Nigel: Well-

Stephanie: I remember at the time you telling me that one of the crew asked you about it.

Nigel: Yeah. So it seemed to me, and it quite often happens in life, that there are things that are urgent and there are things that are important, and they’re very rarely the same, and that most often you’ve got to sort out if a problem arises, well, you’ve got to sort out pretty quickly what actually is urgent. And most often, it’s not. So it was urgent to actually keep people safe because this metal boom flogging around in the middle of the night was actually not a good look. Actually, if it got seriously damaged and damaged the sails, then we wouldn’t be able to make any repairs at all.

Stephanie: No, and you’re just stuck there. Yeah.

Nigel: So the urgent issue there was to keep people safe and get the gear done. Then the important thing, you’d sometimes need to think about it. Reflect last year with COVID and connect that up. When we decided and you announced that your team were all going to work from home, actually, it was an urgent response. We knew that’s exactly what had to happen. There actually was very little choice, and it kept everybody safe. But then the important thing was quite a few days, or maybe a few weeks later, how on Earth are we going to function?

Stephanie: Yeah.

Nigel: I think that was the same with us. What I’ve found in life is that sometimes the obvious solution doesn’t come straight away. So if it’s not urgent, actually, it’s important. Sometimes it’s better to pause and delay.

Stephanie: Just have the reflection. Yeah.

Nigel: I think that’s what a couple of the younger guys said to me afterwards. They said, ‘That was the most incredible decision not to try and fix it straight away,’ because we know all the things that were suggested in that first half an hour at two o’clock in the morning we’re rubbish. You can’t say that to your team because they’re all trying to be innovative and helpful. Actually, none of the ideas were really what was going to solve the problem. So what actually emerged was a very good exercise in collective thinking and collective discussions. There was quite a debate for about three quarters of an hour about, yeah, how we could do all this before we actually got into action.

Stephanie: So the temptation to jump into action, particularly in a situation that is unexpected and has ramifications, so that temptation, you manage that.

Nigel: Yes.

Stephanie: I really like what you said about at that time, the crew weren’t really coming up with the idea that you, as the leader, you knew that idea wasn’t right. And how to manage that, because that’s hard in leadership. I know I can fall into the trap of going, ‘No, no, no, that’s not it,’ and that’s not actually the best way to get the most out of your team, is it?

Nigel: It’s not a good look for the team.

Stephanie: No.

Nigel: It’s really the coach role, which is to say, ‘Look, there might be a better way or a different way. So why don’t we pause here and have a think about it?’ Actually, when people get tired, it’s rare that they make good decisions. You sometimes do, instinctively, but if you’ve got to think and you’ve got to consider what the options are and then have a sensible debate. So actually, the guy who does the catering on the boat, he said, as we got up, ‘Skip, do you think we better all have a meal?’ I said, ‘Well, yeah, absolutely.’ So there’s some coffee being served and some breakfast, and the three or four who I knew could be the key to getting this right were in a huddle and thinking about how this works. We’re in the middle of Bass Strait and it’s still blowing a hooligan. It’s still blowing 25 knots. So it’s quite fresh.

Stephanie: So it’s slow down to speed up, in a way. So I’ve got a question for you about your leadership, and I’ll get to our own context soon, but having worked very closely with you now for seven years, sometimes I get the feeling that you know what the answer should be, and it’s not just with me, it’s with people around you I see, that you actually are really clear on the answer and you’re letting it play out. How real is that a reflection of you as a leader?

Nigel: I think it’s something that I’ve learned, and I think it’s related also to the urgent and important sort of difference that if you want to be a strong leader and a CEO and a strong leader, then, actually, you can’t do it all yourself. So then each of us have a different way then of engaging with those around, and some of them are the senior team and many aren’t. So what I’ve found buying companies was mostly that there was extremely poor leadership and management at the top, which is why the companies that I chose to buy were for sale because mostly they were failing, and that’s what appealed to me. Then I found also that the next line of management, the senior executives, generally weren’t up to the mark either.

But then I found the third line of management were actually fabulous, and in every case in the five or six companies I bought, we kept nearly all the men of middle management and got rid of usually the driver and then many of the seniors, because the knowledge was there, but it was around leadership and understanding how they could then contribute. I think that was one of the things that I perhaps picked up and learnt. I think I learnt that also from corporate life. So kind of zigzagging back in my life, one of the things that I’ve found out is that careers actually aren’t much good planned forward, but careers are very good analytically looking back.

Stephanie: Absolutely. My resume makes so much more sense now.

Nigel: So why am I in Australia? I mean, it’s just one of those flukes. So you’ve got to work on your luck too, but that was lucky. But just thinking that about the corporate world, I didn’t realise how much I’d learnt in good corporate life until a couple of years after I’d left it. I just realised how well-equipped I had become in just some basic skills, and some of that was around leadership. So in the days when I was in corporate life, there was time for mentors in the senior echelons of the company. They never called them mentors, but again, looking back, that’s what the roles were. So thinking about that and the style of leadership you have, I’ve found that it’s sometimes better to listen and encourage the debate before jumping to the conclusion.

Stephanie: Interesting, really interesting. So we better, before we move on, finish the third plan, which was get to Hobart as quickly as we could. How did that go?

Nigel: Well, for a couple of hours, we watched very carefully this mainsail and with only a smallish sail on the front corner genoa. Then a couple of crew said, ‘Skip, don’t you think we can put the spinnaker back up?’ I said, ‘Well, I can’t see why we wouldn’t.’ So by mid-morning, we were back in action and doing 12 and 13 knots with a broken boom, which seemed to be okay, a spinnaker, and we’re headed for Hobart.

About a very short time after that, we had a radio sked, which is obligatory about three times a day, and on the radio sked we heard that Wild Oats had dropped out. And so the navigator came up and he said with a big smile on his face, he said, ‘Do you know what?’ and this is really unkind, but I said, ‘No, tell me.’ He said, ‘Wild Oats has dropped out because they’ve just broken a shackle.’

Stephanie: A shackle being?

Nigel: Oh, it’s like a metal thing that holds two bits of rope together.

Stephanie: Please, please. Yeah.

Nigel: I said, ‘So what are they doing?’ He said, ‘Oh, they’ve turned around and gone home.’ I said, ‘Oh, we’re not doing that. So let’s go to Hobart.’ And so that’s what we did. And they were-

Stephanie: What was it like when you got there? What was there?

Nigel: It was astonishing because we arrived late at night, 10 o’clock or something, and the press was there, the television cameras were there. Wild Oats had dropped out, so that was fortunate. But they were expecting us because we were the oldie moldy. And so we had quite a few visitors and family members there. So we had a party on the boat from about 10 o’clock at night till I don’t know what hour in the morning.

Stephanie: Fantastic. It’s a great story. When I first heard it, I thought it was about the decisions you made. Then on reflection, it’s about leadership and it’s about a high-performing team.

Nigel: Yeah.

Stephanie: There’s another element to it, because I was thinking this morning that we were going to have this conversation, and let’s move to the next part of our relationship and that story. So I’m CEO of TEC, and you’re chairman of the board. So we’ve had this interesting and wonderful leadership relationship for the last seven years. I was thinking about when I first started, we both had completed the same psychometric assessment, it was the Hogan, and we had a debrief on where our differences might be, where the challenge could be. It was the first time I’d actually done that assessment, and something struck with me, and still does, about how you are so high mischievous and I’m so low. You’re off the charts.

Nigel: I mean, you think we’ve reversed all that.

Stephanie: Well, I’m not sure. Yeah, I think mine’s increased a little.

Nigel: Yeah, I think so. A bit more relaxed, yeah, yeah.

Stephanie: Well, yeah, because mischievous to me doesn’t mean relaxed. But what an interesting thing that two leaders can come with such different styles and over time become even better and better at getting the most out of each other.

Nigel: I remember that debate with the facilitator because that was a really useful conversation.

Stephanie: It was great, wasn’t it?

Nigel: It was within a couple of weeks, I think, of us getting together. I remember raising the question, ‘So what does this mean being mischievous?’ If you remember, she said, ‘It’s mischievous,’ and I thought that was… And I said, ‘So what is that?’ And it was one category out of, what, eight or nine different personality traits?

Stephanie: Yeah.

Nigel: I thought, ‘That’s a really unusual concept.’ Today, it might even be called innovation, or creativity, or lack of tolerance for the status quo type of stuff. I mean, I think in today’s world, I’m not sure you’d use those words, but that was the category that just blew mine out of the water, for whatever reason.

Stephanie: Isn’t it interesting? Because, that’s an interpretation. Because the things that you’re saying sit very firmly within me as more… I see it as-

Nigel: Oh, totally.

Stephanie: … poking the bear.

Nigel: Oh, yeah. Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie: I see it more as a situation where there’s, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to really poke here.’ It’s just been interesting different styles of leadership, which brings me to where we are now. So after 20 years on the TEC board as chairman and a longer history than that of engagement with TEC, Nigel Stoke is stepping down in June. For any business, that’s a real inflection point for a business. It’s something that really needs to be marked.

What I love, you and I have spoken about this, is generational change for this business, which, again, is common in so many. It seems such a good time to have you here, Nigel, on TEC Live to tell your story of leadership, to celebrate the leadership that you have shown to the whole organisation, certainly to the board of TEC, and to me as a young and green CEO of seven years ago. What’s the thing that you have learnt in that time, over the last 20 years, about leadership? What’s your big takeaway about leadership?

Nigel: I think the leadership that’s shown by a CEO is different to the leadership that might be shown by a frontline team that’s interacting all day with customers or others. I think the leadership that’s shown at the board level is different again to the CEO. I think boards that I’ve sat on, and sometimes not enjoyed very much, tend to get a bit confused about this, about whether they’re running the company or the CEO is running the company.

I go back to Dan Wurtenburg, actually. It’s always nice to bring in a TEC connection. But Dan used to speak on the role of the CEO, and he said, ‘There’s only three things you need to do.’ And of course, the whole room would gasp. He’d say, ‘You’re the chief strategist, the chief team builder, meaning leader, and you’re the chief salesman, meaning business developer.’ So he’d embellish then each of those three things. But he didn’t use the word leader so much as team builder. I thought that if every CEO thought about those three things, and if that’s all they did, got the strategy right, if they got the team right, and if they were then the business development sales person, actually, you could be a very effective leader.

So I’ve added a couple of things to that since Dan Wurtenburg, and I’ve never taken him on about it actually, because I think there’s a couple of other things that you could add to that. One is the notion, actually, of being a good leader. That means being sincere, having integrity, having the time to listen, being clear about your communication. So there’s some aspects there that aren’t necessarily in Dan’s simple three things. The other one that’s missing also from Dan’s list, in my opinion, is the grasp of the financials and the numbers, because it’s not just sufficient to be a great strategist or be a great team builder or being a great salesperson. That’s pretty good, but actually, you do need a couple of those other things as well. I think-

Stephanie: Got to know your numbers as well.

Nigel: Yeah. Yeah, know your numbers is part of that financial stuff. I think that’s what makes a great leader. That learning then about what you do on the board and how the board interacts with the CEO to me has been fascinating to learn, and I’ve been, and still, learning about how best to do that. But the chairman leads the board, and then the CEO reports to the board. So it is an unusual and, in some cases, a unique relationship between the CEO and the chair. But it’s the CEO and the board, and the chairman leads the board. He doesn’t lead the company.

Stephanie: Wonderful. That’s really interesting. I was having a robust discussion on exactly that yesterday. So, interesting to hear your view on it. So as we celebrate 20 years, as we celebrate your survival in the middle of Bass Strait, a wonderful story about leadership and getting the most out of the people around you. And for me, Nigel, thank you for being on TEC Live, and thank you for your wise counsel and that mischief that’s kept it very interesting. You’re not disappearing. However, it’s a different leadership engagement we will have going forward. But Nigel Stoke, thank you very much.

Nigel: Thanks so much, Stephanie. I shall look forward to the new engagement. Thank you.

Stephanie: Discover more about TEC.

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