The Last Word: Jonathan Ling


“So many people in business today are not money makers,” says Ling. “I am unashamed about the need to make money. If you make good money you have the ability to undertake community programmes and other things. If you don’t make good money, your ability to do things is zip. Making money is foremost.”

His senior management recruits must then have strong people skills. He looks for individuals with compatible people philosophies. “They must be able to manage diversity and difficult people in positive and constructive way. Big people skills are essential.” Finally, they must “fit culturally” with him, as the CEO, and within the organisation.

With these three qualities uppermost in his mind, Ling then considers the prevailing business environment. During growth periods, he looks for entrepreneurs. When the business is consolidating or in turnaround phase, he looks for individuals with different skills. “When choosing people you need to recognise what part of the business cycle the organisation is in,” he adds.

And when the situation changes, he looks for an individual’s willingness to change along with the circumstances. It is, he says, important to recognise the changes taking place and to change either skill sets or people in order to deal with the new business environment.

Fletcher Building controls the recruitment and development of its top 250 people centrally. “The objective is to develop and manage the next generation of the company’s leaders. There is strong emphasis on building our own people. The company likes between two thirds and three quarters of its promotions to be internal. We think that, generally speaking, we can grow our own people to better level than the marketplace can provide, but you also need new blood from time-to-time.

“We also care about how we go about doing the things we commit to. We define our actions in terms of our culture. That we will, for instance, do what we say we are going to do. In addition to honesty and integrity issues, we have strong team focus on transparency and spirit of generosity in tough times. We undoubtedly care about getting results but, we also like to define how we go about getting those results in cultural and behavioural sense. ”

When it comes to creating the organisational culture, Ling takes lead from American management guru Jim Collins in best-selling book, From Good to Great. The inverted pyramid approach to what Collins calls ‘Level 5’ Leadership appeals. According to Collins, Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building great company. It is not that these leaders do not have egos or self interest – “indeed they are incredibly ambitious” according to Collins – but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

“Once you have the right people in place, have agreed what you are going to do and how you are going to do it, the chief executive and the senior people in the organisation are the servants to those in the organisation who have to deliver it,” Ling adds. “If those people fail, I fail. If they succeed, I’ll succeed. My job is to be the servant to our people and make sure they have the resources and the environment, and that I do everything I can to make sure they succeed. I like to think we do not have top-down organisation. “

Developing good conversational skills ranks high on Ling’s agenda of leadership attributes. “Good conversations invariably lead to good ideas, solutions and relationships,” he says. “It may be an old-fashioned skill but, great performance invariably comes from great conversations. Poor performance comes about either because you do not have clarity about what it is you are trying to do, or because conflicts are not be

Visited 14 times, 1 visit(s) today

Business benefits of privacy

Privacy Week (13-17 May) is a great time to consider the importance of privacy and to help ensure you and your company have good privacy practices in place, writes Privacy

Read More »
Close Search Window