Leadership lessons from Steve McCann
Julia Mackerras, 30 August, 2016
An Adelaide boy, at 18 Steve McCann was a bookie’s clerk with a head for numbers, became a lawyer with Freehills specialising in mergers and acquisitions, moved on to investment banking with Ord Minnett and ABN AMRO, before moving to Lendlease in 2005 as Head of Property Investment. Steve McCann addressed an audience of business professionals at our Business Leaders Forum series on Friday 17 June, 2016.
Lesson 1: Strategy is more than just numbers – It’s about people
With the suicide rate among men in the construction industry twice the rate of young men across Australia, McCann believes safety is an integral part of his current leadership role. “Through personal experience, I understand the impact workplace accidents can have on individuals and families” McCann shared.
Growing up in a family with seven kids and a strong set of values, McCann learnt the importance of honesty, integrity and fairness at a very young age. As a leader, he believes caring for his people involves more than traditional safety measures – it includes supporting their mental health and wellbeing. McCann has not shied away from implementing policies at Lendlease that put the safety and wellbeing of employees first.
His genuine passion for this cause led him to a role as an ambassador for Australian mental health not-for-profit organisation, Beyond Blue.
Lesson 2: Prioritise diversity and inclusion
McCann strives to prioritise a diverse and inclusive workforce. This includes addressing gender pay gap inequity and offering flexible work arrangements. At a management level, McCann believes in promoting awareness around unconscious biases that can occur in decision making.
“Anyone leading an organisation observes we can achieve better outcomes when we have teams of people who can think differently but work together.”
Lesson 3: A leadership journey entails continuous learning
Learning agility, trust, open mindedness and authentic listening are critical skills for leadership, said McCann, reflecting that his own leadership journey has required continuous learning.
“Trust, generally, is harder to earn or demonstrate, but in my view a person who has strong values and demonstrates an in-built quality control mechanism, where he or she will never be satisfied with less than their best, is someone that you know over time you can trust to deliver.”