Qualities of the Leaders - Thoughts from Katie Wadey and Bernice Samuels

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Those of us fortunate to have been managed by exceptional individuals will know the difference they can make to our performance and motivation. 

We recently asked what it took to be an exceptional leader. Today, we are exploring the qualities of managers that particularly stand out to those who have worked for them, and gone on to excel in their own careers. We asked Katie Wadey, Chief Customer Officer at LV=, one of the leading insurance providers in the UK, and Bernice Samuels, Global CMO at MTN, a South-African based multinational mobile telecommunications company.

Katie Wadey, Chief Customer Officer at LV=

I have been hugely privileged to work for some amazing leaders over my career so far. Even the ones that weren’t that amazing, or were quite hard work, taught me something along the way.

When asked who really stood out, I think of one incredible woman I worked for over a 2-year period. She was human, wore her heart on her sleeve, and said what she felt and how she saw the world. She showed me that it is ok to be what you are, without apologising for it.  Never sugar coating, she just told it straight, but in a way that made you know she always had the company’s and her team’s best interests at heart. She was (is) very capable and very intelligent, but others didn’t always give her credit for that, with some not seeing the strength in her seeming vulnerability. She didn’t let that affect her, she just ploughed on, doing the right thing and relentlessly focussing on what we had to achieve. She made me feel part of something bigger than me, which was very powerful and made me incredibly motivated. We don’t speak that often, but I know she’s always there if I need her, and I’d work for her again in a heartbeat!

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Bernice Samuels, Global CMO at MTN Group

Good leaders understand that no one person can have all the answers. Their strength lies in knowing what and how much can be achieved when we work together, and in their humility and willingness to listen to, and consider different points of view. They bring in fresh perspectives and challenge themselves to look beyond their own comfort zones. Ultimately, good leaders redefine the landscape by persuading the centre to move toward them, rather than themselves taking centre stage. This is what makes them strong leaders. 

My standout boss could best be described as hard, but fair. He was an accomplished expert in the category, yet he took the time to know everyone in the company by name, and ALWAYS asked after your family. This made you feel like a person that had value and was valued, regardless of your position in the business. He created a deep sense of community, of being one company, united by a single clear vision of the future. I loved that he never allowed a clear view to be confused with a short distance. 

His leadership style was consistent in that he was driven by values and common purpose to achieve scale and profitability.

PlutarchPlutarchFS, TMT, Services