I sat down with Dr Paul Boxer to find out more about his journey to leadership. From an engineer to a serial entrepreneur and visionary; Dr Boxer is often described as the Australian Elon Musk. Developing visionary engineering software technologies to luxury boat projects he is now helping launch disruptive Australian start ups and providing mentorship along the way.
MC: Can you tell us a little about your journey to leadership?
PB: I didn’t view myself as a leader initially. I performed well as an engineer at GM and got promoted into leadership positions. I changed careers and started my own business(es), a one-man band to start with. As some of my businesses grew, I was obviously the boss, hence, the “leader” and the teams grew under me. I adapted well to the role. I was comfortable delegating, I always tried to surround myself with the best people. I knew them all and I maintained a positive, collaborative relationship with all of them. I was lucky that my teams grew slowly over the years, so I was never thrust into suddenly leading 200 people that I didn’t know. That gave me time to learn the skills I have today. I don’t claim to be a great leader but I’m comfortable leading and I can get most people to follow me with some level of enthusiasm. And that’s good enough.
MC: What are the general, key characteristics you believe result in a person being an effective leader?
PB: A good leader:
– Surrounds himself with excellent team members
– upholds the values of honesty and integrity
– works with everyone in a collaborative, positive way
– knows how to delegate well and trusts the team
– works well with people and can find the best in them and motivate and inspire them
– is comfortable with uncertainty
– has an appropriate appetite for risk
– is optimistic and capable of thinking laterally to solve problems
– can keep his head when all others are losing theirs
– earns and maintains the team’s respect through his/her actions
MC: How do you see leadership changing in the next generation?
PB: I don’t see real leadership changing at all from generation to generation. Sure, leaders must be aware of the social expectations of each generation but the core leadership characteristics don’t change, IMHO.
MC: What’s advice you can give a young person wanting to develop leadership?
PB: I believe leadership is a natural talent. If you have some leadership talent, you can develop it and become a great leader. But it would be very hard to do so if you don’t feel you have natural leadership potential. If that’s you, find great leaders in your life and work with them and support them. They’ll need you as much as you need them. And you can make a formidable team.
To learn more about being an entrepreneurial start up in Australia you can purchase Dr. Boxers book Ready to Launch? or take the QUIZ to see if you and your business idea ‘has legs.’
Written by Marion Miller. Image: Mindful Leadership Forum 2016