Leadership Profile - Scott Soutar
Over the past 6 years Scott has held the esteemed position of Station Manager at Nine Network Australia and Group Executive of Nine Entertainment Co. Scott also manages his own company Soutar P/L. Prior to this Scott worked as the Operations Manager for Seven Network. He is an MBA graduate of Macquarie Universities Graduate School of Management.
What is Leadership to you?
I like strong leaders who back themselves and the decisions they make, firstly they are prepared to make a call and secondly they back it up. That’s why leaders exist – to lead.
You should always know when a leader is the room, because they will hold the room and people will always be interested in what they are saying.
Let’s face it, who hasn’t walked into the bosses office looking for a call on a matter only to have a flip flop session where lots get said, but not action taken.
Lots of managers have a view, but leaders have a plan !
Good leaders have the ability to cut through “management claptrap” and get a business moving in the right direction.
Leaders often need to make tough decisions. What tough decision have you had to make in your career?
Without doubt, the single toughest business decisions I have made all relate to restructuring underperforming business units. This always directly affects employees through job loss and forced change.
No matter how many times I am faced with these leadership decisions, they never get easier – these are people’s lives that you are affecting and it’s real.
Call it re-engineering, rightsizing, downsizing or simply consolidation – these are tough, tough decisions to make.
How did you manage your personal stress?
This sounds trite because you hear it all the time, but, I really am an advocate of making sure you find some balance and time for exercise and getting some good sleep. “Switchoff Time” is critical and it means different things to different people.
I alternate between the pool, the stationary bike (I broke my collar bone last time I was on a road bike) and a good hit of tennis – if all else fails, the dog gets a good walk !
Oh, and I switch the phone to silent !
Who is the best leader you have worked with and why?
I wish I could say Richard Branson, but, I have only met him, never worked for him (as yet !)
What do you like and dislike about leading people?
I have no dislikes in leading people, it’s what gets me out of bed….if you can select your team and surround yourself with competent like-minded people, then dare I say, the rest is easIER !
What is the best advice you have received about leading people?
You have to back yourself and be decisive, you can’t lead by consensus…..don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t consult, that’s critical……what I am saying is that once you make a decision, back it, resource it
and be prepared to be criticised for it. There will always be opposition, sometimes from the inside and always from the outside.
What is the worst piece of advice you have received?
You know, it’s difficult to quantify, I have never really had bad advice – but I have seen some pretty poor performers in the leadership space, people who didn’t or wouldn’t communicate; others who wouldn’t make a decision and those who were simply had no emotional intelligence and were tough on the wrong issues and bullish on the wrong people.
What advice would you give others in a leadership role?
A lot of organisations promote people to leadership roles based on their technical ability in their chosen field; which is a great basis for advancement, but very few people are really aware of what they are getting themselves into when they accept a tap on the shoulder to step up.
My advice is educate yourself, and then educate yourself some more and when you think you are pretty good – educate yourself some more. I don’t just mean undertake and MBA or tertiary studies….this is key, but also to seek out mentors and people you trust to discuss things and obtain alterative opinions. I think this helps develop a “roundedness” that will help you a lot, not just in business but also throughout your life.
Leadership extends to your personal life too, so, the skills you develop and the experiences you have all add value along the way.
Who in the public eye do you admire for their leadership skills and why?
I was fortunate to have worked in America during the Clinton Presidency (1992 – 2000) and developed a close affinity for what he was able to achieve whilst in the Whitehouse, faced with a hostile house of reps, ongoing investigations into his business affairs whilst Governor of Arkansas amongst other things – he simply punched through it all to deliver results and I believe he remains widely respected for it and this stands out for me.
Question….can leadership be taught or are you just born with it?
I believe managers are taught, leaders are born; they are very different skill sets, management being very structured in its approach, whilst leadership is a far more intuitive activity.