Geering’s guide to CEO excellence


Management mentor Adrian Geering is about to publish a new wealth of advice in a book that captures the experience of SA’s most prominent business people.

In Secrets of Successful CEOs Adrian shows he is a thorough-going mentor who’s not slow to challenge those on top – confronting CEOs’ paradigms about business, life, leadership, personal development and success.

He never hesitates to push CEOs to greater heights in both their personal lives and their business ventures.

It is difficult not to be inspired when Adrian speaks about his thoughts on life and business, learned over the past 20 years helping CEOs to leverage and transform their lives.

The author, speaker, business owner and former university lecturer, with a background in management, HR, sales and strategy has spent more than 18,000 hours coaching some of the world’s leading chief executives.

In 2003 he was named the World’s Best Chairman, Leader and Mentor by TEC International.

For Secrets of Successful CEOs, due for release in December, Adrian interviewed 19 of the nation’s best leaders, who have survived and thrived in this high pressure corporate environment.

“The most incredible thing I have found through my research and experience is that the CEO role is about leadership and helping people become effective leaders”, says Adrian.  “The speed of the leader (is) the speed of the pack.  And not only that – how are you going to break from the pack?  In today’s competitive environment, to break free from the pack you really need to be ahead of the game and building cultures.  Leadership development, probably in its greatest and simplest element, is personal development.  If I am going to lead a company, I have to grow as a leader, grow as an individual, grow my understanding of the business, and grow my effectiveness in the business.  If I don’t do these things, how can the business grow?”

CEOs featured in the book, such as Andrew Downs (Sage Automation), Scott Hicks (Adam Internet) and Roger Drake (Drake Food Markets) – reveal the lessons they learned on the job, their approach as CEOs, their advice to others and offer personal details about work-life balance.

Adrian says today’s CEOs have these challenges in common.  “It’s called the ‘being-doing gap’ – that gap is about “I’m not a human doing, I’m a human being”, he says.  “People have been taught a lot of lies by another generation about work and work ethics.  What is the point of work hard, why not work smart?  It’s about transformational learning and challenging the paradigms.  You have to change your belief system – what is money, what is work?  Work is, by definition, what your thoughts say it is.  If a boss says to his employees that they have to come to work from nine to five, does that mean attendance?  Does attendance equal effectiveness?  It doesn’t.”

Amongst Adrian’s key findings was a common theme of applying the right style of leadership to a business.  This discovery played a major part in the featured CEOs’ progressive business success.

“One of the most important issues that came up was about leadership and having the appropriate management structure”, Adrian says.  “The leadership style of the best leaders is humble and they empower their staff to the point where you often don’t know who the leader is.  Their success was also related to having an incredible passion and commitment to service and clients and having the right internal capabilities in the business.  To me, though, the critical factor is having a growing leader who will take the staff and company to the next level – a leader who is willing to change, willing to have people around who will challenge them, where there is no hierarchical system.  True organisational change occurs today when people feel empowered and have the responsibility to manage themselves.  Staff need to feel part of a connected group of people – and successful CEOs form these relationships with their staff.”

Adrian’s message and his mentoring experience is all about challenging the traditional belief systems of people, particularly CEOs; to unlock and harness the potential of their lives; to achieve greatness as a leader and to facilitate the leverage of their business.  It is about a new way of thinking – about success, life, money, happiness, business and self.

This is the edge that empowers successful CEOs to greater heights and Adrian’s thesis asks the question:  life, leadership, business – what type of future do you want to create?