Last year we’ve had the pleasure of attending Marketing Rockstars Festival in Graz, where we met one of the speakers – Scott Morrison, former Marketing & Commercial Director, DIESEL and Founder at “The Business Accelerator”. We were blown away by his keynote on leadership and particularly the concept of accelerator leadership and wanting to find out more, we interviewed him. Enjoy the read!
First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to have an interview with us. Have you heard about AIESEC before we met in Graz?
My pleasure. To be totally honest, I hadn’t heard of the organisation before I had the pleasure of meeting you at the conference. Subsequent to that, I’ve learnt a lot about AIESEC and think it does some wonderful work with young people, empowering them to be leaders and take control of their futures.
As an organisation that fosters youth leadership, your speech about it at Marketing Rockstars festival definitely caught our attention. How would you define leadership?
Leadership to me is something incredibly powerful …something that creates and brings magic to the everyday. I define great leaders as people who ignite a passion and energy in people to doincredible things that they never believed possible.
At M.R, you talked about accelerated leaders. What exactly differentiates an “accelerated leader” from let’s say an ordinary one?
Ordinary leaders take all of the traits, skills and values of leadership and become competent at them. They get the job done and there are lots of them out there. Some businesses need this kind of leader as they are happy to plough the same furrow over long periods of time – they don’t want to challenge the status quo and like things where they are. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se – however, great leaders quickly want to move on from these businesses to further their challenges and career experience.
Great leaders take all of the above and are able to apply it in such a way that they ignite the passion and energy of their people to do incredible things that they never believed possible. They create the bedrock of everyday magic.
Accelerated leaders embrace both of those behaviours and add the ability to create positive disruption in their organisation – they lead their people and their organisation through the chaos that is the modern world of business; they empower their teams to sense, adapt and respond to the disruption that’s happening in their market and create an environment where people are inherently motivated to achieve great things right through the chain. They create leaders within their organisations recognising that a coaching mentality coupled with the power of building an empowering culture is the way that succession planning in business happens. They believe wholeheartedly that culture eats strategy for breakfast!
People often perceive “disruption” as something negative. But you define it not only as something positive, but something ‘great’. What do you believe makes ‘disruption’positive?
My life experiences taught me that being different could be viewed one of 2 ways – you could use it as a detachment mechanism – feel like a victim and continually use it as a reason for your failure or underachievement. Or, you could reframe it, flip it and make it an powerful force for achievement. Being different allows you to experiment, to be unconventional, to embrace failure and see the success it brings. Disruption works the same way. If you use it as a force for bad, it alienates, divides and ultimately destroys. Use it as a force for good and it generates energy, movement and a following. That’s how you get things done in an organisation: generate an unstoppable force for good that engages and empowers people to perform at the best they can. Positive disruptionchallenges the inertia in organisations and gains traction, movement and acceleration.
One of my favorite parts of your speech was the ‘6 easy steps’ to success: Constant reframing, Radical collaboration, Embracing conflict, Always open, always on, Thrive on chaos, Extreme empowerment. Why are those steps the most important to you? And why C.R.E.A.T.E?
These steps are key to the success of an Accelerated Leader because they are some of the things that most challenge the inertia in businesses, organisations and consumers. They are the things that ordinary leaders avoid because they are threatening or challenge their own perceptions of what they need to feel like as leaders. For example, some people find it hard to relinquish authority and empower their teams as it’s not their view of leadership. However, it is critical that you are always building leaders all the way through the organisation not just at the top. That’s why extreme empowerment is important.
They are all distilled from my experiences of working with some of the world’s greatest brands and leaders in those businesses. I have tried and tested all of them and that’s why I can say that they truly work to accelerate leaders and in turn businesses.
C.R.E.A.T.E was a suitable acronym that spelled out a simple statement – Accelerated Leaders C.R.E.A.T.E positive disruption to accelerate businesses.
I coach leaders on ways to bring this model to their teams so that they can accelerate they businesses.
At the festival where we had more than 35 speakers, you were perhaps the only one to have had leadership as the core of your speech. Why do you believe this topic is important? What is your opinion about young leaders in Austria?
In a world where too many leaders abdicate their responsibilities and the role models of leadership for young people are changing beyond recognition, it’s about time that we all had broader discussions about what leadership means today. We need to ensure that there’s a clear understanding of what leadership looks like from all angles. There’s nothing to say that someone with vast experience is any better a leader than a 16 year old college student who has set up their own business. We can all learn from each other especially with the growth of tech, start-ups and revitalised entrepreneurialism in the next generations. When I mentor, I ask my menthes to critique some work that I have done too so that I can garner their perspective – we need to do this more with young people so that they feel valued as leaders.
How do you think AIESEC can help nurture the mindset of ‘accelerated leadership’amongst the Austrian youth?
Young leaders all over the world need organisations like AIESEC to help them shape their experiences to become the best leaders they can be.
The beauty of the Accelerated Leader model is that it can be applied at any level, in any organisation and with any age group. If people embrace this thinking now then, as they progress right the way to the top of organisations, they will have a mindset that enables them to build a powerful culture below them where people are inspired to be part of an organisation that differs from lots of others out there.
I hope AIESEC can see the benefit of this thinking and find a way to use it to nurture the young people who they’re working with.
You are an inspiration to many people. But what is something that inspires you to do what you do every day; your inner drive?
I read a wonderful book called ‘The Last Shamen’ which encourages you to look deep into who you are and find what your purpose is, what your ‘greatness’ is. What is the one thing that you have been put onto the Earth to do. When I did it for myself, I found out that I should be a Guide – someone who shows people the right way to go.
It was such a powerful message for me and is the thing that drives me every day to be the best that I can be. When you are a Guide, there’s a lot of responsibility to engage with, absorb and share knowledge and to channel it to those who need it most.
What would you say was the biggest learning point in your career that pushed you to go in this direction?
As I said, when you recognise what it is that you really feel compelled to do, there isn’t anyone or anything that can stop you. All of my previous roles were the education for me to be able to do what I love doing even more now. The other thing that really vindicated my decision was practising Street Wisdom which is a mindfulness exercise where you use the street to find answers to questions you have. When I did it, it cemented lots of things that I had already been thinking about and I have now become an ambassador for the movement. I incorporate it into my leadership coaching and people come away with a learning experience that helps reframe a problem they had previously been facing.
What would be your message to young people striving to succeed in today’s world and become leaders who positively influence our society?
Become Accelerated Leaders – don’t accept anything less because if you learn from bad leaders you inherently pick up skills that you will want to shake off later in your career.
Envision a future where you are an Accelerated Leader, feel it, see it and believe it and you will become one.