Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 128 – Leadership Lessons From CEO/COO William Phillipson

Dear Leaders, this week I want to introduce you to Will Phillipson, Will is one of those leaders who you meet and know he is someone you would love to collaborate with and learn a tonne from.

Will has been a CEO and COO of well known companies and is someone you will learn a great deal from his answers and feel inspired to make positive changes for the end of this year and kickstart next year off in the right way.

Leadership Lessons From CEO/COO William Phillipson

Q1. You’ve led and sold your own business and been COO at well-known businesses, what’s the one leadership trait you have to teach each leader?

Communication. When you’re in the details day to day – especially when you’re at the center of a business – you understand and feel the business like no one else (or at least very few others.) It’s also easy to assume that everyone has the same level of understanding. That’s not the case. So as a leader, you have to communicate, frequently and repeatedly. Explain to the team – with the right level of nuance and transparency for every level of the team – the vision, what’s going on right now, and how it relates to achieving the vision. People who understand the environment, their part in it, and how everyone is working together to make things happen are more effective.

Q2. One of your best traits is being a translator between management and the different departments – what’s the secret to getting everyone on the same page?

I’ve found the secret to be two-fold – first, taking the time to understand what the department / team / individuals do; and second, communicating and relating the vision and action plan to them in the context of their environment.
Doing this reduces misinterpretation – you “speak” the appropriate language to each team – and also gives each team confidence that you understand the value and contribution they bring to the overall mission.

Q3. Is there one common mistake you see company leads repeat over and over that you can share that you’d warn department leads on what not to repeat?

Accountability is huge, and often not thought about until things go wrong – then the blamestorming begins… Part of the communication – part of the vision – needs to be metrics that can be used to measure whether the vision/mission/project has been achieved. If that is part of the formulation, then those metrics can be used by each team – and the company overall – to ensure that progress is being made. And most of all, failures need to be identified, acknowledged, and particularly where the failures impact other teams, those responsible need to be held accountable.

Nothing demotivates team members more than seeing repeated failures go unpunished – or worse, being rewarded… (We all know of those cases where repeated failure has resulted in people getting promoted…)

Q4. What’s the biggest opportunity for businesses in 2023?

Big Tech is struggling. Thousands of high-quality people are available on the market. Consumers are demanding exceptional online experiences and seamless online and offline integration. This all breeds amazing opportunities for disruption and the birth of the next generation of super businesses. 

The businesses that survive will focus on the customer experience – better online user experience coupled with an offline fulfilment that matches the expectations set by the online experience.

Q5. What do you think every leader needs to teach in 2023?

Humility & patience coupled with purpose and vision. The world is chaotic at present and people are worried and often overwhelmed. Leadership will set the tone for the team – treating people with humility and patience will build a culture of respect; providing – and clearly communicating – a purpose will give team members a reason to show up, be present, and drive towards success.

If you’d like to connect with Will on LinkedIn.

Massive thanks to Will for answering these questions and adding a lot of value and a number of actions to move forward with. I’ll see you again next Monday.

Have a productive week!


Danny Denhard