Leadership

Leadership Interview – James Quigley

I’ve always said that if you want to learn about leadership talk to someone who has actually led something. James (Jim) Quigley, Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is just such a leader, and the “something” he leads is a global professional services juggernaut with more than $26 Billion in revenue, and 170,000 people located in more than 150 countries worldwide. What I most appreciate about Jim is his almost evangelistic zeal in championing the Deloitte brand. Jim is a fully engaged CEO who leads by example. You’ll also find Jim to be among the most transparent CEOs you’ll encounter. If you don’t believe me just go looking for him – he’s not that hard to find. Jim has a new book out (“As One“), you can find him on Twitter @DeloitteCEO and Jim is a frequent presenter at conferences such as World Business Forum and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Enough with the background – on with the interview…

Mike Myatt: What does it take to be a CEO of a global professional services firm, and why should anyone be led by you?

Jim Quigley: CEOs today need to model and advocate mutual trust between employees and leadership. I believe that successful CEOs will be judged on long-term sustainable performance and the stewardship of their organization’s mission, rather than on short-term performance and results.

One of my main focus areas is to increase my leadership team’s ability to be effective. One way to achieve that is by respecting your people, helping them find their authentic voice and leadership style, and demonstrating a genuine advocacy of their professional development.

It is absolutely critical for leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. If I empower my leadership team and instill the organization’s values in them, they in return will do the same with their teams. That’s why I spend a lot of time talking to my partners about culture and our values, and the importance of articulating a clear vision and strategy.

Mike Myatt: Your new book ‘As One’ is receiving rave reviews. What inspired you to author a book at this time?

Jim Quigley: I’ve been fascinated by leadership for a long time, and I’ve had the privilege to be in a leadership position for much of my career. Over the years, through my many conversations with C-level executives, it became clear to me that galvanizing large groups of people to work together toward a common purpose was not just a challenge for me, but it was a prevailing challenge for executive leaders.

The actual idea to write a book evolved from a conversation with Mehrdad Baghai, my co-author, where we realized that although we were thinking similarly about leadership, we were coming at it from two very different perspectives. Yet we both shared the belief that leaders from all walks of life are searching for a pragmatic and tested approach to help them realize the full potential of their people. That’s when we agreed that it was time to take a new look at collective leadership.

Mike Myatt: You say that ‘As One’ challenges conventional thinking with regard to leadership styles. Can you share your thoughts on this?

Jim Quigley: ‘As One’ is unconventional in that it has brought about a much-needed depth to the way we classify different approaches to collective leadership. Historically, management theory has tended to present a binary view of leadership—command-and-control vs. collaborative. In reality, we discovered that there are multiple styles of leadership, some or all of which may lead to more effective collaboration, depending on the situation. As One provides a leadership discourse with a rich taxonomy that captures the distinguishing features of different leader-follower models. It is also an approach that is robust in its measurement elements and both actionable and adaptable to a wide range of leadership scenarios.

Mike Myatt: You talk a lot about collective leadership – why is this important?

Jim Quigley: Collective leadership is important because in a rapidly globalizing world where technological advancements are continually redefining how we do our jobs and how we interact with each other, it is no longer possible to assume that you have the full commitment and loyalty of your people. Today, more than ever, leaders need the full commitment and engagement of their people if they are to succeed in an intensely competitive world.

Collective leadership defines how individuals, leaders, and organizations need to interact to achieve common goals. By establishing a common framework for how to work together, leaders can achieve a productive and sustainable form of engagement, creating a culture where members choose to participate in and contribute to the organization’s performance.

Mike Myatt: How has social media affected you as a CEO?

Jim Quigley: Social media has created a number of opportunities and challenges for the business community, changing the way they communicate with their customers, suppliers, and employees.

As CEO, it is incumbent on me to understand and support the new and emerging ways our teams collaborate and communicate with potential talent, each other, thought leaders, business leaders, and all of our stakeholders. It starts with awareness—for example, Deloitte has the second largest corporate presence on LinkedIn—and then moves deeper, into strategy, execution, and measuring results.

Personally, my experience with social media took a step forward this year when I started my Twitter handle (@deloitteceo) to share some thoughts on topics that are important to me and our organization.

Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

Jim Quigley: One of the most difficult decisions the leadership team had to make was the decision to keep consulting as a service line at Deloitte when I was the CEO of the U.S. firm. The Enron scandal and the ensuing passage of Sarbanes-Oxley opened a new chapter in the accounting profession. One after another, our competitors began shedding their consulting arms due to limits placed on accounting firms’ providing consulting services to audit clients. For us, too, all signs pointed to a separation. But after a lengthy consideration, we made the difficult, strategic decision to keep consulting as part of Deloitte.

Looking back, we realize that we made the right decision. Today, consulting is a critical part of our business. Having a strong consulting practice enables us to recruit and retain diverse talent with varied expertise, which ultimately benefits all our business lines and enhances the value we deliver to clients.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

Jim Quigley: Leadership is an evolving discipline. Some believe leadership is about people, and leaders must develop people’s sense of belonging to their group and cultivate a strong shared identity among members of their group. Many think leadership is connected to productivity, and leaders must effectively coordinate activity so members of a group have a common interpretation about how to work together. Others think leadership is about purpose, and leaders should inspire commitment to drive people’s dedication to achieving defined goals with directional intensity.

I believe the primary role of a leader is to bring these three components together to help unleash the full potential of their people.

Mike Myatt: How has ‘As One’ affected you personally?

Jim Quigley: I’ve become an even stronger advocate of measurable data and actionable information. As One’s diagnostic provides specific metrics that leaders and organizations can assess, and the insight from this can be extremely valuable.

For example, ‘As One’ retaught me the dangers of making assumptions. In environments that appear to have common roles and large numbers of employees in common tasks, individual needs for how to be led differ. When leading large groups of people, leaders have to see the various ways their people are experiencing the environment today and understand how, given the opportunity, they would change that environment to make it be more conducive to their choosing to collaborate. Sometimes, this will involve epiphanies that can be summed up as “I was wrong about what I thought” or “my assumptions were incorrect.”

Mike Myatt: What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a leader today?

Jim Quigley: One of the key challenges I face today is maintaining our leadership position in the market. For example, to support our growth we are looking to hire 250,000 people to join our workforce over the next five years. I believe creating a uniform culture and aligning our people across borders, functions, and disciplines will be a critical component of our long-term success. That’s why I chose to invest in ‘As One’. I think through our ‘As One’ strategy, we will be able to further strengthen the commitment of our people to our brand and, most importantly, to our clients, in every single one of the 150 countries where we have a presence.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers advice on leadership, what would that be? Any parting thoughts?

Jim Quigley: 1) Believe in your people, 2) give them ownership and empower them to realize their full potential, 3) have a genuine interest in them and respect their ideas and how they want to be led, and 4) model the accountability and values you expect of the organization.

In the long run, these are the attributes that will enable leaders to increase employee engagement and create an environment where their people are proud to be a part of the organization and are fully and wholeheartedly committed to its goals and success.

Final Thoughts: After reading this interview, it should come as no surprise why Deloitte is so successful. Jim is a great leader with a strong vision. He values his people and is committed to fulflling Deloitte’s brand promise. Please leave your questions/comments for Jim below – He’s a social media guy so I’m sure he’ll respond…

Disclosure: Deloitte is a client.

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    Dan Collins

    March 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Mike,

    Now that is focused stuff – I guess we should expect nothing less from such a man.

    People – Productivity – Purpose.

    “I believe the primary role of a leader is to bring these three components together to help unleash the full potential of their people.”

    Hear, hear Sir.

      Mike Myatt

      March 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Dan:

      Thanks for sharing your perceptions. I especially appreciated your thoughts on focus – I’ve always believed that a company without focused leadership is a precursor to a brand decline. Not a problem for Deloitte as long as Jim’s at the helm. Thanks again Dan.

    William Powell

    March 30, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    “As CEO, it is incumbent on me to understand and support the new and emerging ways our teams collaborate and communicate with potential talent, each other, thought leaders, business leaders, and all of our stakeholders”

    If leaders could simply not feel threatened by what is different and emerging, so many things would look different in their world. Thanks for a great interview Mike…and thank you Jim for having such an active passion for quality leadership!

      Mike Myatt

      March 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks for stopping by William – The interview was my pleasure and I’m sure Jim appreciates your kind words as well.

    Mark Oakes

    March 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Great interview, Mike

    Quigley’s response about collaborative leadership in a flat world is particularly telling. When we look at hard trends (technological advancements and their downstream convergences) we know that the leaders of tomorrow must galvanize teams in a much different way than they do today. Additionally, if they aren’t already morphing their organizations today in preparation for the tidal wave coming tomorrow, it’s going to be too late.

    I don’t worry about my competitors because they’re doing things the same way it’s been done for years. I’m worried about the college student in Mumbai who already has all the tools necessary TODAY to establish a full-blown, virtual construction company and compete against me tomorrow. As a leader I communicate this reality on a frequent basis.

    In the business world of tomorrow, collaborative leadership isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s an IMPERATIVE!

    M

      Mike Myatt

      March 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      Mark, you said “In the business world of tomorrow, collaborative leadership isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s an IMPERATIVE!” This is so on-point. I hope all my readers take your insights to heart. Thanks for sharing Mark.

    James Strock

    March 31, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Terrific interview. He sounds like an archetypal 21st century leader. With his platform at Deloitte, he can influence so many people and organizations….

      Mike Myatt

      March 31, 2011 at 2:45 am

      So True Jim – great leaders are deserving of great platforms. Deloitte is doing some tremendous things under Jim’s leadership. It will be fun to watch where they go from here.

    […] Read the Leadership Interview with James Quigley of Deloittes, just out at N2growth.com – leadership is about trust and looking to long-term […]

    Johan Reinhoudt

    March 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for sharing.
    Using a unifying strategy to create a diverse, cultural acceptable, yet some how uniform approach – Indeed, the leadership challenge of the future.

    It is refreshing to see a leader accepting “people are people – really?” and one who can see beyond the all encompassing ‘wisdom’ of the leadership team, by hopefully presenting human vulnerability and a quest for “ideas from every where”.

    In my humble view “trust” is the new competitive differentiator – those leaders who have the trust of their people and their market – they’ll win.
    When the market changes, as we know it is as I am typing this – they’ll win again.

    Let’s never forget that leaders have to have a great balance between introspection and communication – the more senior, the more important this becomes. A self aware, competent communicator who has established a transparent environment with healthy feedback, comes close to being my ideal leader..

    Leadership may be ‘learned’ when it comes to certain practical aspects. However, one who isn’t interested in building organizations, teams and/or relationships will be hard pressed to become a successful leader – no matter what.
    The person must have the “innate capabilities” for him/her to be supported in this ‘learning’ process. If not, there are plenty of examples out there – good person – wrong job – catastrophic for all involved.

      Mike Myatt

      March 31, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      Hi Johan:

      I find myself actually agreeing with you on all points…a rarity – you should be concerned 🙂

      Thanks for the clarity of your observations.

    Tanveer Naseer

    March 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Mike,

    This is a great interview; thanks for bringing it to my attention. Mr. Quigley’s point about not using assumptions over tangible data/information is a critical one, especially if one hopes to lead others by fostering a culture of trust and respect. It’s easy for both leaders and employees to make assumptions about certain decisions or why a given project is being pushed/shelved based on what (little) information they have at the moment.

    By demonstrating that you only respond to situations from a position of clarity and hard facts, along with being transparent about your decision-making process, leaders can foster a work environment where employees are not driven by self-preservation, but from the position of open collaboration to help their organization succeed in reaching their shared goal.

    Thanks Mike for sharing Mr. Quigley’s insights on your blog.

      Mike Myatt

      March 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      Great insights Tanveer. Whether emotional, philosophical, experiential, or relational, assumptive bias is dangerous if taken in vacuum. Used a part of a validation process assumptive reasoning can add some value, but as the basis for the entirety of a decision assumptions have been the root cause of many a train-wreck. Thanks for sharing Tanveer.

    Tanveer Naseer

    March 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Mike,

    This is a great interview; thanks for bringing it to my attention. Mr. Quigley’s point about not using assumptions over tangible data/information is a critical one, especially if one hopes to lead others by fostering a culture of trust and respect. It’s easy for both leaders and employees to make assumptions about certain decisions or why a given project is being pushed/shelved based on what (little) information they have at the moment.

    By demonstrating that you only respond to situations from a position of clarity and hard facts, along with being transparent about your decision-making process, leaders can foster a work environment where employees are not driven by self-preservation, but from the position of open collaboration to help their organization succeed in reaching their shared goal.

    Thanks Mike for sharing Mr. Quigley’s insights on your blog.

    Mike Myatt

    March 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Terri:

    I agree that trust is powerful and transformative quality. Trust is a catalyst for success, and people who don’t receive the benefit of trust simply cannot reach their full potential. Thanks for sharing Terri.

    Mike Myatt

    March 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for the comment and the link Andy. Best wishes Sir.

    Meredith Bell

    March 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Very powerful interview, Mike. Thanks to you for asking such great questions and to Jim Quigley for his candor. Glad to know about his new book, too!

    His reference to leadership as “evolving” reflects the kind of openness that’s needed to navigate in these changing times. I also respected the underlying humility that pervades his attitude and approach while still reflecting strong confidence and and a clear vision. Growing from 170,000 to 250,000 will be no easy feat, yet I get the sense that he’s the type of CEO who will be able to make that happen with his skills and approach.

    Ellen Weber

    March 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks Mike and Jim, for highlighting the evolving role of leader in this informative interview.

    Loved your notion of leadership about people, and their sense of belonging to their group – the strong shared identity among members of their group – and productivity.

    Yes, I also agree that with a common interpretation about how to work together, leaders can cross pollenate great ideas, inspire commitment to achieving defined goals.

    Jim, thanks for the ways you’ve linked these three and articulated it so well – to help unleash the full potential of people. What a refreshing take for an innovation era!

    Stephen Langton

    May 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    As the Managing Director of DTTL’s Center for Collective Leadership, I want to thank the readers of the N2Growth blog for their insightful comments. It’s been eye opening for us to see how this lively discussion unfolds.

    As some comments have mentioned, many people have learned leadership from two sources: those that led them well and those that led them badly. Future leaders will need to recognize that their duty is to leave a legacy of evidence for those around them to learn from. The responsibility to lead has a long lasting footprint and the more we can get leaders to realize that their behavior is teaching others directly, the more we can get that legacy right. Some additional points I’d like to add:

    • Re: competition: For too long we have observed the development and presence of good leadership as a function of improving performance. Good leadership for the future is increasingly defined as a function of risk management. The threat to our performance today, in all industries, is rarely the traditional competitors we can see next to us. The frontlines of this new competitive landscape are being devised by people in their early 20’s, not people at the end of their careers. We need to be able to listen to the front lines of our organizations as the source of such intelligence in order to effectively manage future threats—and opportunities—to our business.

    • Re: transparency: A current PhD student at Oxford studying the impact of “Ignorance” in the failure of strategies and projects has found that “ignorance” might not be so much about having the wrong information, but about not seeing the absence of required facts. Clarity becomes the ultimate condition for success in times like these. The more people have information on their technical tasks as well as the environment that they are working in, the more likely they are to adapt and question and contribute to testing that environment. Leadership must create this clarity.

    • Re: leadership: Overall, we have found that when alternative paths are offered to leaders they find it is easier to say “I don’t like that path” than say “I don’t understand that path.” Humankind’s natural tendency is to refrain from a path that requires a change in our formula for success, or a diversion from the path we had been on. With As One are looking to build confidence in leaders to constantly seek new paths. This takes a moral courage and humility higher than we have ever demanded from leaders in the past. It means we now see the rise of a new competence in leadership: the ability to learn.

    Best regards,
    Stephen Langton

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