11 Australian executives get real about what makes a good leader


Executives must be able to adapt and be proactive in their leadership style in order to be successful.

Some situations or people require particular approaches, and therefore an executive must be able to pivot accordingly.

To help you find inspiration, we asked the finalists of this year’s CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards to define what makes a good leader.

Here’s what they had to say.

Steven Wright, CEO and Managing Director of BIG4 Holiday Parks Australia

SuppliedSteven Wright

Traditionally vision, strategy and acumen are often regarded as the key attributes of a good business leader. I believe there are two others in many ways are just as important, they are empathy and authenticity. These play a key role in developing culture within an organisation.

Akash Ahluwalia, Managing Director of Curves and Jenny Craig

SuppliedAkash Ahluwalia

A strong leader needs to have faith in their own beliefs and have the ability to communicate them effectively, listen to others and setting examples and not giving up. A good leader also effectively knows weaknesses and strengths of the team around him and can use them to tackle different challenges.

Melanie Waters-Ryan, Chief Operating Officer of Flight Centre Travel Group

SuppliedMelanie Waters-Ryan

Two things – you must be an inspirer and engineer. The engineer role has to see patterns and work out how to make your business better through designing a model that works. Being an inspirer is about getting on board the journey and creating a compelling future where your people access change.

Sabri Suby, Founder and Head of Growth at King Kong

SuppliedSabri Suby

Leading by example and empowering your team to make decisions. The best leader works alongside their team in the trenches and inspires and mentor their team to keep pushing industry boundaries.

Kathryn Marshall, CCO of Acquire BPO

SuppliedKathryn Marshall

A good leader takes a people-first approach, able to build people up and coach them to achieve their goals. A good leader also demonstrates passion and communicates a strong and clear vision.

Giuseppe Porcelli, CEO and Founder of Lakeba Group

SuppliedGiuseppe Porcelli

Being a leader means inspiring, leading and trusting your team. Trust is one of the most important values for me – which means believing in my team and giving them the independence to grow, make mistakes and become stronger.

Stephen Canning, CEO of JCurve Solutions

SuppliedStephen Canning

A good leader is somebody who can bring about transformation, somebody who does not accept mediocrity. A good leader needs energy and the ability to inspire positive energy in others. To do that, a good leader must really care passionately about their people.

Shelley Sullivan, CEO and Founder of ModelCo

SuppliedShelley Sullivan

Courage. Passion. Vision. Confidence. It took a leap of faith for me to start a cosmetic company up against large multi-million dollar established international brands. I had the vision to see the big picture and the confidence to continue despite many obstacles.

Vanessa Katsanevakis, Director of Sussex Taps

SuppliedVanessa Katsanevakis

For me a good leader is someone who is a great listener, empathetic, has unwavering vision, and who loves what they do. I think personal growth is very important because you cannot achieve new results being the person you were yesterday.

Rhian Allen, CEO and Founder of The Healthy Mummy

SuppliedRhian Allen
  • Listening to what people need.
  • Having a strong vision and following it every day.
  • Leading by example.
  • Motivating people.
  • Knowing staff feel part of the team and have job satisfaction.
  • Rajan Kumar, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Lumery

    SuppliedRajan Kumar

    A great leader is someone who has integrity, humility, confidence and a clear vision. They surround themselves with great people and nurture positivity inspiring trust.

    The awards will be held on November 21 at ICC Sydney. Find out more here.

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