Message from Deloitte

It’s particularly opportune that one of the key themes for this year’s Deloitte/Management Top 200 awards is the importance of leadership, because it is only from great leadership that any facet of life – business included – can truly flourish.

This has been the case throughout history, but in today’s uncertain times it seems even more important than usual. It is during times of great uncertainty, turmoil and even danger that the importance of effective leadership becomes immediately apparent.

When we wrote last year’s commentary, the world was reeling from the blow that was September 11th 2001. Looking back, it’s obvious that many things changed that day and we are still going through that change process – each of us both as private citizens and business people – trying to work out what the new world looks like.

There’s little doubt the political world is completely different – and more dangerous – place today than it was this time last year. There’s also the impact the political environment is having on the global economy as world sharemarkets struggle in the midst of the worst falls since 1929 and consumer demand in the large markets slows.

And what of the business world? Business has been dealt double blow over the past 12 months. Not only has it had to contend with the post-September 11th downturn, but it too has come under attack from completely different source, one of its own making.

Twelve months ago, Enron was (on the surface at least) successful energy company. Today it is by-word for corporate excess, mismanagement and lack of integrity. The Enron scandal, the demise of an accounting icon in its wake and the spate of corporate failures post-Enron have shaken the foundations of faith in capital markets around the world.

If there is lesson to be learnt from the Enron debacle, it is that strong, effective leadership is as important in business as it is in any other aspect of life, be it family, government or sport. And, while the facts affecting the likes of Enron and Worldcom are only slowly being revealed, it seems strikingly obvious that those organisations – and the dozens of similar corporate failures in the US – failed at the very top of their organisation.

Good leadership is not about dictating orders and blindly pulling your organisation in the direction the leader wants it to go. That’s not leadership, it’s dictatorship.

Good leadership is about recognising that business or an organisation is composite of many stakeholders, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and other interested parties. Good leadership is about recognising that the leader only has ‘stewardship’ of the organisation and must balance the various needs of all those stakeholders (most of whom will be around for long time) for the benefit of all, not for the benefit of the leaders.

A good leader inspires everyone in the organisation to perform at their peak. They advise, rather than order. good leader leads by example, not from an ivory-towered office. good leader is visionary, creative and proactive, not reactive. good leader will make mistakes; and bad leader will do anything to avoid making mistakes, in the process never taking any risks.

A good leader trusts and delegates, yet assumes full accountability for their actions and those of the people they lead. Authority, trust, creativity, responsibility and accountability – those are the attributes of good leadership.

Those are the attributes which help sporting teams achieve success. They are the same attributes required for effective leadership in business.

That’s why Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is once again particularly proud to be associated with Management magazine and the Top 200 Awards. We congratulate and salute the leaders and winners of this year’s awards.

John Hagen, Chairman
Nick Main, Chief Executive

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