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Effective leadership in business-My interview with ANZIIF

After speaking on “Motivation for Collaboration” at two ANZIIF events I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Rita Loiacono, ANZIIF writer.

The reality all but a few industries face today is the constant threat of change —usually in the form of ever-evolving protocols, practices, tastes or technology. In such a reality, it’s no coincidence that those businesses that invest time and resources into maximising the potential of their employees through high-calibre leadership are the same businesses that are at the forefront of innovation and are enjoying the most consistent success.

While good leadership is not an insurance policy against failure, bad leadership is almost certainly an insurance policy against success. More and more businesses are realising this and, to their credit, are taking steps to help their leaders evolve. Such growth can often be an integral factor in whether or not businesses take that constant threat of change and instead see it as a constant opportunity.

In her own words, Renée Giarrusso is “obsessed with seeing people grow”. That obsession was the impetus for her decision to step away from the corporate world following 12 years in senior sales, marketing and leadership roles, and instead start her own business, Metamorphose Consulting.

Since starting that business nine years ago, Giarrusso has worked to help leaders, teams and organisations in over 24 industries to maximise their connection, collaboration and leadership. With a wealth of experience and having just written a book, Limitless Leadership — which looks at leading self before being able to lead a team or a decision-making process — Giarrusso’s work is underpinned by her belief that all industries face the same challenges around leadership, but with self-awareness and commitment to improvement, those challenges are certainly not insurmountable.

“Leadership, if you dissect it, is really around collaboration, motivation and communication,” Giarrusso says, noting that there is often a misconception that leaders and managers are one and the same. “Managers work in their teams day-to-day — I liken it to doing maintenance-type things like cleaning your house. Leaders do progressive things like renovating your house,” she says.

But how can managers move beyond the often overwhelming and seemingly never-ending nature of day-to-day tasks and make the leap to progression and innovation? According to Giarrusso, it’s all about delegating more, empowering more, and identifying the strengths of team members and giving them more tasks that maximise those strengths. “That frees you up a bit to be able to do things such as setting vision, strategising and building a strength-based team,” Giarrusso says.

Asking your team to articulate their strengths and weaknesses, and what they like and what they don’t like, can be a powerful motivator, as it enables leaders to help energise their team members by giving them opportunities to do what they’re good at, as well as what they enjoy. However, such an exercise can be futile if the person asking those questions lacks connection with the people they’re asking. “The manager’s got to build rapport,” Giarrusso says. “If you’re not respected and you sit down and you say to your team, ‘So what are you good at, what do you enjoy?’ you’ll get nothing. I believe rapport equals influence. If you’re in rapport and if you’re deeply connecting, people will be more honest with you and more open.”

While Giarrusso does believe part of being a good leader is innate, she also believes it can be learnt — provided there is a will to learn. Often, though, employees are elevated to managerial positions because they’ve been with the organisation for a significant period of time or because they are technically brilliant. And while these are valid reasons for promoting people, they aren’t necessarily indicative of their leadership potential and can often result in managers being unaware that they’re missing the mark when it comes to truly leading their teams. “I think, too, we are wired to think that if you manage a team, it will help you move up, so everyone thinks they have to manage a team, but not everyone is wired to do that,” Giarrusso says.

Another prohibitive factor to good leadership is a misguided view on what actually constitutes a strong and effective leader. Aside from a belief that a long tenure makes them the best person for a leadership role, bad leaders tend to be ego-focused: They often believe they are the only team member who is genuinely busy, they fail to delegate because they believe no-one will do things as effectively as they can, and they tend to have an overinflated view of how important they are to a team’s function. On the contrary, Giarrusso says, “If the team doesn’t need you and you can go on holidays and come back and things functioned well without you, that’s a good leader.”

Elaborating further on what makes a good leader, Giarrusso says they realise it’s not about them, but rather, it’s about the team. “Good leaders are empowering, they co-create and involve, so when there are decisions to be made, even if they’ve got the answer, they act like they don’t and make the team feel like they’ve come up with it. They’re coach-centric, so they use a lot of questioning to empower people to come up with what they already have in them. They’re not just complying to be a leader, they’re committed. So compliance is you do it, but committed is you have a jump in your step and you want to be there. They have perspective and respect, and they’re trustworthy,” Giarrusso explains.

Where women in leadership are concerned, Giarrusso does concede that, overall, women are underserved in leadership roles, but she notes that there are certain industries that are consciously making efforts to improve the imbalance, and as EQ continues to outweigh IQ in importance, things will continue to change. “IQ isn’t measured as much as EQ now,” Giarrusso says. “So your IQ is how smart you are and your EQ is how well you read people and understand people, and I believe women have a very strong EQ,” she says.

When asked if she has any advice for women who are already in leadership roles or who aspire to them, Giarrusso says it’s important to be strategically agile — that is, be able to understand and work across all business units — and she encourages women to focus on what they’re good at and what invigorates them, rather than becoming preoccupied with fitting in or proving something. “Be brave, be bold and be yourself,” she says. “I think what’s really important is have a voice, be a ‘no’ leader, so to speak, so don’t just agree with everything. If you don’t agree with something, have a voice and explain why you think what you do. Above all, add value, and learn from others, and find out what you’re strengths are and make sure you’re tapping into them, because then you’ll do what you do naturally.”

Giarrusso encourages businesses to recruit for diversity, likening people to colours of the rainbow — with the inclusion of more colours of the rainbow, the picture looks more whole, it offers greater perspective and inspiration, and the less likely it is to become tired or boring. Ultimately, good leadership doesn’t discriminate: “It doesn’t matter who you are — your age, your gender, your ethnicity — it doesn’t matter; it’s about capability and capacity,” Giarrusso says.

Renée Giarrusso presented at ANZIIF’s Lunch and Learn series events in WA and SA during October and November 2016. To find out how she can assist at an individual, team or organisation level and turn your inner potential into outward results she can be contacted via email, website, or LinkedIn.

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Take some pride in your ride


One of those beautiful sunsets.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Last week I had a cab pick me up to get me to the airport. As I walked out as it arrived on time at 6am, I could barley see through the hand smudged, virtually opaque with dirt windows. As I proceeded to get in the driver quickly put a towel down on my seat, openly acknowledging how filthy the car was. If time wasn’t of the essence I would of booked another cab but instead I got in and he did deliver me the airport safely. In the time I was in the car it got me thinking how little pride some people take in what represents their brand, their business. People buy you first, that is nothing new, and the way you portray your brand right down to what you say, do and physically present yourself really says something about you.

We are all on a journey of some sort and it’s not uncommon to become so side tracked with all the doing and being that we sometimes forget how we are perceived along the way. In a leadership role we have so much to juggle, we need to be agile, we need to go wide, then narrow and wide again. We need to juggle people, structures, and technology and also build our leadership brand along the way while being watched and sometimes watched in the spotlight.

I am all for the ‘doing” but as leaders we also need to “be”. We need to take time to reflect on how we are seen as a leader. The most effective leaders I work with encourage regular feedback from their teams, peers and up-line. This not only creates disclosure and rapport, it also gives you an accurate indication of how you are really tracking, not how you think you are tracking. They reflect and self-coach on where they have been and where they are going and all the magic in between that will get them there.

Thinking about your leadership brand, a few questions to reflect on:


  • Who am I? (You must know who you are before you can get to where you want to go?)
  • What do I stand for? What do I value?
  • What am I great at, that I enjoy and lights me up?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • How am I known?
  • When aligned with who I am, how do I want to be known?

Like servicing a car, you need to regularly check in and recalibrate. Change trajectory if you need to and be open to being a work in progress with no attachment to the outcome and instead an attachment to the journey.

Enjoy and embrace your leadership journey, treat it lightly and observe what happens.

Renée Giarrusso

renee_logo_2016_small_dark_transparent backround

Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished trainer, facilitator, coach and speaker who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations. She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation and performance. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.


Contact us today to learn more about our in-house or public programs

“The Top Fifteen Percent Leader”

A dynamic interactive leadership program, run as an openly facilitated program 3 hours a month over the year!

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The Top Fifteen Percent Leader

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Well, what an amazing year it has been!  We have facilitated hundreds of successful leadership, coaching and sales effectiveness programs across a wide range of organisations and industries. We have been working on new and exciting materials, methodologies and IP for our clients and I have started a book!  We hope your year, looking back, has also been one of growth and contribution with big goals set to ensure 2016 is even bigger and brighter!

One of the programs I am excited to launch is an interactive and dynamic new program for leaders kicking off in February with my colleague, the amazing Rohan Dredge!

Leadership today requires you to go wide, deep, and wide again. It requires you to have a clear picture of the future and to be highly responsive to the climate and culture you are in right now. Leadership needs to be adaptive and resistant so you make measurable progress towards the shared dream. Leadership agility is the ability to apply many and varied leadership styles to fast paced, ever changing environments. It's the ability to read a room, shift a team, understand a person and make meaningful connections that move the mission forward.

Agile leadership is the ability to manage people and structures, relationships and reporting, policy and technology. It's the ability to see the difference between the two.  Agile is the new 15%. Based on a HBR article most leaders, up to 85%, lead toward functional expertise, these leaders are technically brilliant and usually focused on being very good at delivering on a few narrow responsibilities.

We look to take the 85% and bring them up to the “Top Fifteen Percent” where subjective challenges are addressed and leaders are more co-creative and strategy focused. They become cross functional and interdependent whilst becoming an industry pioneer with the role of leading a convergence of people, strategy and mission.

We take you on a journey where we collaborate as an open group of like-minded leaders working on real problems in real time. We work through the challenges around mindset, focus, and assist skill stretched, time poor leaders to become more agile problem solvers and lead effectively and successfully through the subjective challenges of leadership.

Our first program kicks off in February as an open program in Melbourne and we can also run this in-house. The program goes over 11 months, 3 hours per month as an open facilitated session based on solving real life leadership challenges in real time.

I would love to have chat if this is of interest to you, or any of our coaching or workshop programs we run relating to leadership, communication, mapping motivation and sales capability.

Have a great Christmas and please enjoy our complimentary white paper, simply download by clicking on the link below!

Here’s to a successful New Year full of growth, contribution and collaborating with you on your success!

Kind Regards



Renée Giarrusso, Lead Coach, Trainer and Speaker works with high performing Executives and teams across a myriad of industries and organisations. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.

Drop into our website and contact us for a chat and see how we can collaborate with you for even more success!