Business School a university for the real world


05 February 2013

There are many opinions as to what constitutes a successful leader. From the sporting arena, renown American football coach, Vince Lombardi once said "Leaders are not born; they are made... made just like anything else - through hard work." Representing academia, Peter Drucker's statement of "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things" is often referenced. Comparable, in principle, is Sun Tzu's lesson, from the famous military treatise, Art of War, which instils "A leader leads by example and not force." With these many facets of leadership and more in mind Brisbane-based company Creating Leaders teamed up with Brisbane Executive Club (BEC) to sponsor a series of four educational leadership workshops, aimed at sharpening the skill-set of QUT's graduate school of business (GSB) alumni to give them the extra edge in their chosen professions.

Whilst the skills of finance, supply chain management, accounting and information management are core components of executive and management education programmes, the soft skill of leadership is, according to the latest Hays Salary Guide, a sought after differentiator amongst candidates. Why, you ask? Simply it is this; companies, the world over, are actively seeking individuals who possess the ability to create sustainable competitive advantage and achieve long-term growth through the application of agile strategies and critical innovation: leadership is a necessary ingredient and is, hence, offered by QUT through its Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees.

In speaking with GSB alumni and students, the BEC discovered that many would like to continue honing their leadership skills, post-graduation, to improve future employment opportunities. Conversely some sought reassurance, whilst others proclaimed to be introverts and therefore assumed that they lacked a flair for leadership; which is not the case according to esteemed researcher and author Susan Cain who advocates the opposite in her book cleverly titled "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking".

Falling out of the alumni community feedback the BEC hosted a series of four leadership workshops and invited GSB alumni to attend. Those who attended a minimum of three out of the four workshops were then able to nominate themselves for the BEC and Creating Leaders Scholarship, which comprised of 10 one-to-one personal executive coaching sessions with Creating Leaders over the duration of 2012, with the objective of, as per the company's mission, transitioning one successful individual into a true leader to, as Rob Quinn founder of Creating Leaders says, "make them significantly more strategic in their careers and to develop their business through focussed staff leadership."

Putting together quite the case, Glenn Dale, Managing Director of Tree Crop Technologies (integrated forestry consulting, plantation asset management and project development company) was awarded the scholarship. Rebecca Sharpe spoke with Glenn and Rob to discover how Glenn has evolved as a leader over the course of 2012.

REBECCA SHARPE: It is said that institution can dampen innovation and inspiration in companies. As a leader how do you prevent this from happening?

GLENN DALE: As I lead a small company we don't have the institutional constraints to innovation that can befall larger institutions. Rather, as a science and technology based company, innovation is something I actively encourage, and I believe is critical for our survival. Encouraging innovation helps motivate staff, which is not only an important element in retaining good staff, but also strengthens our competitive advantage by helping us to offer the best value solutions to our clients. As a leader, I encourage innovation and encourage staff to think, try and share new ideas. This fosters innovation and allows employees to deliver outcomes that bring improvements to the way that we do business, as well as for our clients. In fact, through this approach, proudly, one of our staff members successfully developed new approaches to re-vegetating mine sites with dry rainforest communities.

REBECCA SHARPE: As a QUT MBA graduate, how did the programme prepare you with "real-world" leadership skills?

GLENN DALE: My background is firmly in science, and although I have been involved in commercial managerial and business development capacities, the QUT MBA filled in what I perceived where some 'gaps' that needed filling in order to give me the extra confidence to build and lead a new business. As I started to grow my own business I realised that the "known unknowns," could potentially become serious pitfalls. The QUT MBA highlighted where these might be and provided me with sufficient knowledge to help me avoid a number of these. In addition, it instilled many disciplines for running a sound business. For instance the MBA increased my appreciation of quality corporate governance and is something that I established from the outset of the company.

REBECCA SHARPE: When you have finished your development with Rob, how will you continue to learn and evolve as a leader?

GLENN DALE: One of the challenges of any course or programme is that it all makes perfect sense while you are in the learning environment but it is another thing to take those lessons and apply them to everyday practice, especially when they involve changing long-established behaviours. Apart from working with me on areas of leadership that are not in my nature, Rob has also instilled the ability to recognise where a change in behaviour is warranted, and to gradually work to make the changes in behaviour become second nature.

REBECCA SHARPE: Glenn, Rob has said that the Creating Leaders scholarship has helped you to improve your awareness of ensuring that you are dedicating sufficient resources to develop the key outcome to the business, as well as the development of a management culture underpinned by quantity and quality of feedback to all employees. How do you apply these at Tree Crop Technologies?

GLENN DALE: Rob has helped me to implement some of the disciplines needed to recognise where my time is best spent and to make time to do the important, not urgent things. I still have a way to go, but I am certainly more conscious (and guilty!) when doing things that could be more economically delegated to others. Rob has also helped me become more conscious of the importance of regular and quality staff feedback. Although complimenting staff comes naturally, giving quality feedback from why they have performed well or constructive input as to where and why they might need to change what they are doing, rather than simply saying well done!

REBECCA SHARPE: Typically, what is the most common mistake that you see would-be leaders make, Rob?

ROB QUINN: The first is that often people don't transition and remain in a management frame of mind. The second stems from this and is that the activities of a leader are quite different to that of manager. Would-be leaders need to challenge their thinking about how they spend their time. This necessarily means that they have to stop doing some things that have got to them to the current point in their career and is often a very challenging for some to recognise and do.

Are you a Leader in the Making?
Creating Leaders offer a number of packages (both one-on-one and corporate) to help mangers and business owners develop beyond where they currently are by giving them the tools to increase their leadership skills through a concerted focus on changing behaviours. For more information visit; email or call +61 (7) 3358-1404.

About BEC
Brisbane Executive Club (BEC) is the alumni chapter of QUT Graduate School of Business. To ensure that you benefit from the social and professional networking opportunities extended by the BEC stay in touch by visiting or by becoming a member of our LinkedIn Group.

Rebecca Sharpe
Brisbane Executive Club.

Brisbane Executive Club

Glenn Dale and Rob Quinn


QUT Business School

  • Postal address:
    QUT Business School
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001