After being a part of two of the IT industry's biggest mergers, Ian Sellick wanted to explore his passion for leadership, leading to the creation of his own leadership coaching consultancy. He reflects on his journey so far and shares the key to building sustainable businesses.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I started life as an electronic engineer and, from there, I moved into sales as a technical sales engineer. I somewhat surprisingly found I was quite successful.
This encouraged me to join Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), which was a computer company ahead of its time and growing rapidly. I was fortunate to have the most fantastic training and progressed through various leadership levels, making many mistakes and hopefully learning from them too! I was also part of two of the largest corporate mergers ever in the IT world when Compaq acquired DEC and later Hewlett Packard acquired Compaq. All of which was a great learning experience. Through these times, I both realised the value and discovered my own passion for leadership development and have been studying leadership and adult development ever since.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I partner with senior leaders, their teams and high potentials to work on their challenges. To develop their thinking and meaning-making capabilities in times of ambiguity so that they may lead their organisations through challenging times, to long term sustainable success for the benefit of all their stakeholders. We can all get stuck in our thinking at times, particularly when under pressure and feeling a sense of overwhelm. Having someone who can work with us to challenge that way of thinking, and look outside of the box we've put ourselves in, can be truly liberating for both the individual and the organisation.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I really believe that if we can develop leaders who view leadership as a privilege and a service, who create purpose-driven organisations that deliver value to all of their stakeholders. From here, long term sustainable businesses can be created, delivering for the good of all.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Stop trying to be perfect! It gets in the way of being good, and most people seeking to be perfect end up beating themselves and everyone around them up if the slightest thing is not as they see or expect.
It's better to reflect on things like results, what went well and what didn't go as expected, and what could we do to be even better. This kind of reflection makes the difference and keeps us far more resourceful, considerate and aware of our situation.
What, or who inspires you?
People who are honest about where they are and want to be better are prepared to learn and grow and who do so. It's wonderful to be working with those who achieve so much because they are ready to admit what they don't know and are prepared to learn and get great results.
I draw from many people in all aspects of life, including sports, teaching, community and business. I have been very fortunate to have had some wonderful role models, and sponsors and of course have seen the other side of the coin as well - the not so good. The latter is particularly useful because it helps show contrast and distinctions between what is not so good and what represents excellence.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
I read a great deal - particularly books, articles and journals. I also attend seminars and undertake regular training. I am also part of a mentor programme supporting coaches from industry, and I believe I learn as much if not more from them than they do from me!
I'm also one of Marshall Goldsmith's 100 coaches group where we work together, exchanging ideas and working on challenges.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
I was asked to sort out a large project with a client that had really turned sour. Things were so bad that the client did not want to speak to us other than to say sort things out or else. It was clear that the relationship had totally broken down, and I felt that the only way forward was to restore confidence and trust in our programme leadership. It took a while to do; however, I eventually managed to get one of the client company's directors talking and through that built a strong and trusting relationship.
Following this, I was in regular contact with the board, and chairman of the organisation and we helped them through a significant merger that could not have happened had we as a team not stepped up and delivered. There was a lot of work required on all sides to change attitudes and behaviours to get there and credit to all those involved for pulling it off.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would like to start a charitable foundation that helps underprivileged youngsters get a meaningful education that serves them well and creates success for them and their future families.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
If I can, I like to play golf. I've already mentioned I read a lot and this includes novels as well as technical literature. I also enjoy cooking and tasting great wine!
When pandemics allow, I love spending time with my two young Grandchildren who are six and two, I learn so much watching and just "being" with them.
I also love most sports and in particular Rugby Union.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
My wish for the future of leadership development is that all of those involved in this industry have the humility to realise that we cannot stand still. We have to keep growing to deliver quality. This means that people must have the courage to listen and learn and challenge leaders on all issues, including diversity, environments, and it must include ALL stakeholders - not just shareholders.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
This is a big question! There are so many, and if I am being forced to choose right now about my subject, I would say anything by Brene Brown, Peter Hawkins, Patrick Lencioni and Marshall Goldsmith. They are all subtly different and yet full of wisdom.
How should people connect with you?
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