Good Leaders Podcast Episode 5 - Liam Black: ‘My biggest failures have happened when I haven't stayed true to my values’

At Pioneers Post, we’re interested in a specific kind of leader: those who are both trying to make a difference and doing business differently. In our Good Leaders podcast, founding editor Tim West meets some of the best and brightest of social enterprise, impact investing and mission-driven business for a series of candid conversations – expect to be surprised.

This month: lifelong purpose-driven business leader and mentor Liam Black addresses the question at the core of our podcast series: what does it mean to be a good leader?

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Over his long and diverse career, Liam Black has run a number of purpose-led businesses – both his own and other people's. Now in his sixties, he’s mentoring other leaders to do the same, and has just published a new book: How to lead with purpose – partly a story about his own journey as a purpose-driven leader, and partly drawing from his experiences as a mentor.

In this podcast episode, he speaks to old friend Tim West about having imposter syndrome in his first role as CEO, growing frustrated and moving on (more than once), the importance of building organisations that can thrive without his support in future, and the fine line between authenticity and virtue signalling.

He shares successes and failures – and tells us that failing as a leader is different from simply making a poor business decision.

As a CEO, the biggest responsibility you have is to protect the strength and the positivity of the culture – and it's very easy to spoil

“The big failures for me in my leadership have been when I haven't stayed true to my values,” Black says. “As the CEO, or the chair of something, I think the biggest responsibility you have is to protect the strength and the positivity of the culture. And it's very easy to spoil that and when I have spoiled that by my own behaviour, or by allowing in people who were able to bullshit their way through… those, I feel, are my biggest failures in leadership rather than particular business decisions or business ventures that haven't worked.”

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