Former Deloitte Touche & Tohmatsu CEO Says a Culture of Respect Leads to Success
By Steve Eaton
Those who are serious about being effective leaders should ask themselves some tough questions about how they can best do their job and one of those questions is: “Is it better for those you lead to fear you or love you?”
James Quigley said goal clarity is key to success.
That is one of several things leaders should think about according to James Quigley, who served as the CEO of Deloitte Touche & Tohmatsu Limited from 2007 to 2011. For Mr. Quigley, who has coauthored a book on leadership called, “As One,” the answer to that question centers on respect.
“In order for you to influence their behavior you’ve got to find a way to connect with them first and then after you’ve connected with them you have to be respectful, you have to show empathy,” he said. “You have to show that you care.”
Mr. Quigley retired as a senior partner from Deloitte U.S. in June 2012. He graduated from the Huntsman School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1974. He was named by “Accounting Today” as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” for three consecutive years. Utah State University recognized Mr. Quigley with an honorary doctor of business degree in 2008 and the Huntsman School honored him with a Professional Achievement award in 1989.
Mr. Quigley spoke at the Partners In Business Accounting Conference recently and said that he thinks the hardest part of leadership is putting in place the right culture.
“I think a leader has a huge responsibility for creating an environment for their team to be successful and I think that is having the right culture in the organization for them to be able to perform and perform well,” he said.
In addition to having the right culture in place, or a “good climate” as he also called it, there must be clarity about goals and the organization must have people who are capable of successfully achieving them.
“Establishing clarity on what the team is trying to accomplish is fundamental, and the most important condition, I think, that has to be put in place,” he said.
He said being able to consistently deliver what is expected is crucial to career success and gave some advice on how major projects should be approached.
“Whenever you are asked by someone in your organization to take on a hard project give yourself permission to push back from your desk to reflect and to ask yourself the question: 'Are the conditions in place for us to be able to successfully deliver this project?'"
He said that if a team is unified and believes in the organization’s goals, it will fare better.
“Our team has to feel and own the strategy that we are asking them to execute,” he said. “They have to believe in what we are asking them to do. And if we can get them to feel a sense of belonging and to believe in what we are asking them to do, then we can influence how we are asking them to behave.”
He said he sees leadership as a matter of finding out how he can get the best from people and get them to do “that little extra” or tap what he called “their discretionary effort.”
“Whenever I am competing for a project or competing for a client and I don’t win, I torture myself because I believe one of my competitors did this better than I was able to do it,” he said.
He said basic leadership challenges are the same regardless of the number of people one is leading.
“I think the leader of a team of five is a leader,” he said. “I don’t care if the team is five, 50, 500, 5,000, 50,000, it doesn’t matter. The challenge is still the same. Can you bring a group of diverse individuals together and have them work together effectively toward a common shared goal?”