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Interview with Owen McCree

Owen McCree is a life and business coach with a passion for helping his clients to optimize their business strategy and ensure sustainable growth. In this interview, Owen shares his thoughts on what it takes to be a true leader, as well as his experiences which led to his speaking career.

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
This might sound egocentric, but I get a high from seeing people react to a new point of view, a fresh strategic point of departure and being amazed at the simplicity of a process when I explain it. I love activating a crowd and engaging an audience. When I can look around the audience and see everyone still listening with intent and perhaps a smile, that is my “happy place”. To see the value I add in people’s faces.
Once we take a break or the seminar is over, people come up to me to either make another booking for their own company, or to ask my opinion on other subjects, I know I have achieved success with that particular audience.

 

What do you think is the most important quality for a leader to possess?
Quite simply put, “Honest Intent”.
All other qualities, skills etc. can be learned and practiced. Vision, negotiation, strategy, planning, culture builder, experience, knowledge etc are all good, but without an honest intent, people will simply not follow you because they want to, they will follow you because you have authority over them, but not because they see you as a true leader.
People are not sheep. They immediately know when a leader is putting on a PR show, for investors, the clients, ad campaigns and the ultimate, “we care for our employees” induction videos.

 

What does it mean for a business to be sustainable?
Sustainability needs to firstly be contextualised based on the original WHY of the company. What does the company be sustainable in? Profits? Production? Technology?
Being sustainable means that your entire business model must be structured to play an infinite game as opposed to a finite game as Simon Sinek says. Fine games are like baseball, there are rules, there are a number of innnings, when the innings are done, the team with the most runs win. There are no more innings, the team that lost canno say “if we had 2 more inniongs I know we could come back”, the game is done, there is a winner and loser.
In business, there are no winners and losers and the fields and the games change. A business’ model can be rendered obsolete overnight, economical collapse, shareholder exit, new technology etc.
Sustainablity in business is about setting up your business for the long run and creating a foundation or platform to support the ups and downs in future and creating an enabling environment for growth.

 

What types of unique experiences have you had as a result of your profession?
I have seen the challenges faced in several industries, literally from the corner supermarket to international mining houses, manufactuing companies, retail, vehicles sales groups and financial institutions. It is always interesting to note that even though the technicalities are different, the dynamics and basic remain the same.
In addition, and probably the most important, is the level of maturity of different countries, business units, operations and organisations, sometimes within the same group. Benchmarking leadership, systems, culture internationally, I have found that what seems to be the next best thing in one country might not see the light in another. The environment is not ready for that kind of change and needs a process to arrive at that point of understanding and effective adoption.

 

How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?
I use a fair amount of humour in my keynotes, workshops, seminars, breakfasts etc. I believe that we need to have fun doing what we do everyday. With this I do not mean that we make a circus out of everything, but we need to be able to laugh and smile at work.
I have found that different levels of humour, tend to work better with certain audiences. I can relatively quickly determine the level of humour I can use with an audience and hen pitch it in appropriately. It varies from sessions with EXCO to operational floor personnel.

 

How did you begin your speaking career?
I was employed at an EXCO level in the minerals industry and often found myself in front of an audience whether it be operational management, EXCO, board members or shareholders for presentation on the state of the business portfolio I was responsible for. Having studied Business Management at Wits Business School in South Africa and being the way I am, I often provided a broader picture than the one I should be concerned with, explain the impacts of processes preceding my portfolio as well as way down line from my portfolio.
This same approach, was followed when I founded The Compliance Group (Pty) Ltd, a Business Consulting company in South Africa. Where we were initially requested to consult on a certain process or project, I would do this and at the same time analyse inputs and outputs to the scope we were allocated to work on. This often resulted in scope changes then concluding what we have found. This consulting later turned in coaching of the business owners on certain process or operations management, leadership, systems, procurement, marketing etc.
Thus, I have been speaking for a number of years, in different countries, with different audiences. My clients have suggested I add this as a service under a new brand as they see tremendous value. Since 2013 where I was invited as a seaker for the 3rd Global Health & Safety Conference in Mining, where I was rated 2nd among international speakers, I have spoken at several conferences, events and seminars. I have facilitated strategy sessions, leadership sessions, systems workshops and many more internationally.

 

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