Ahead of the 11th CFO Strategies Forum MENA, we caught up with John Mattone – #1 authority on intelligent leadership, best-selling author and famously known as Steve Jobs’ former coach.
You are the #1 authority in the world on ‘intelligent leadership’. What exactly is intelligent leadership and what principles does it rely on?
Through my work, I have discovered that, in order to drive greatness as a leader, become a role model that people look up and relate to, you need to understand that the behaviors you exhibit as you go about your day and go about your work are all driven from your inside. Your behaviours and inner value system are intrinsically linked. The outer core exhibits the individual’s character and his value system, how mature and strong he or she is in their thinking patterns and their emotional makeup. I work with leaders all over the world – and my goal as an intelligent leadership coach is to help them build a strong mature environment in the inner core, which increases the probability they can execute great things in the outer core. If I achieve that, ultimately the leaders I coach bring abundance to the world. So there you have it, that’s the best way to describe intelligent leadership.
Leaving an impactful legacy behind is something you talk about a lot and you say that your legacy as a leader is determined by the 4 As. How did the 4 As formula come about?
The 4 As came about by just me thinking about the work that I was doing as a coach. Throughout my career, I came across very surprising facts, which I will share with the audience at the CFO Strategies Forum in Dubai on November 15th. One of the things I have discovered is that great leadership has honestly very little to do with you.
In reality, it has a lot more to do with the people that you impact in the world, such as your team, your organisation, your family, or anybody you come in contact with. When we discuss CFO, CEO, COO or any of us, we have got to commit to becoming much more achievement oriented. One of the questions we should ask is ‘Are we doing things that are moving the leaders of the world?’. The next question is: should be about the value of altruism and are we alter-oriented? Are we selfless, are we focusing on bringing ultimately stronger relationships to the world and creating abundance? So the ‘formula’ was developed through my work, being in contact with the leaders of this world and outlining the common denominators of their success. When I put it all together, it just hit me that, in the end, your legacy as a human being is tied and devoted to the 4 As. A very crisp explanation is that it has little to do with you and it has a lot more to do with others.
Can you give us one example of a leader that you have accompanied? How did he or she grow? What were the changes you have noticed throughout the growth and transformation process?
There have been many, but I will share with you a recent example that has really stood out to me. I started working with Armando, the CEO of a Mexico-based company named Nielsen, about nine months ago. When Nielsen saw his capabilities, they hired me to help him become even better and stronger. There are certain inflection points that I look for in a coaching journey and to be honest, it has been quite a journey. One of the things that I look for is openness and the feedback. Typically, I will use different assessments and 360-degree feedback to get the person to open up.
From our first meeting, Armando gave me a few things to think about. He is 42 years old – a very young age to be in such a role and very talented, incredibly successful and a great person to work with in general. After a great experience working together, I was really moved by how open and vulnerable he was to the feedback from his people and the assessments. As part of my process, Armando had to go back to his team and let them know that based upon the feedback they provided, he had been working with me to create a plan to leverage his strengths and work on the areas that needed development. That is not an easy thing for a leader to do. It is not easy to go back to your team and say “these are the things that I am going to commit to”, and he had no problem doing it. Once he started to implement all of his team’s ideas, we reached back to them and delivered what is called ‘leader watch’ survey. We wanted to see if the people are watching, observing and experiencing Armando’s changes. I was not surprised that the ‘leader watch’ results were very positive. Armando was not sure what the journey will yield to him but it yielded amazing things.
In what way does intelligent leadership drive operating results for a company?
Greatness on the inner core and greatness on the outer core will drive results. Therefore, if you have a CFO with a balanced self-image, incredible character, courageous, diligent, modest, loyal, who shows gratitude to others, has a positive thinking pattern, is hopeful and optimistic, has an emotional makeup that is balanced, all of these things will fuel the execution of skills. I wake up every day with the mission to help people strengthen those areas. Nowadays, with all the books on leadership there are, it is troubling that we still have these massive gaps. I know that, if all leaders in the world committed to strengthening their inside and outside, we will drive stronger operating results and create incredible culture.
If you could give one piece of advice to professionals who would like to become better leaders, what would it be?
Don’t try and do it all alone! You absolutely must surround yourself with 5 to 7 people who are better than you are – whether they are a formal board of directors or informal advisors. I learnt from experience that this is critical to get even better. In our company, we have a group of people that we refer to as the ‘go-to’ people. I used to make all the decisions by myself, but I realised that you have to be open to other people. It is often the ego that comes on the way – but collaboration and modesty are key.
John will be speaking at the 11th CFO Strategies Forum MENA in Dubai this November. He will host a private executive breakfast and deliver an hour-long keynote address providing practical insights into intelligent leadership, culture and productivity. John is represented by Right Selection in the region.