A ‘Catapult interview’ with David Dome

David Dome, General Manager, Phoenix Football Club

What’s the most valuable leadership lesson you’ve learned?

Let things unravel in their due course.  Surround yourself with good people.  As long as your hand is on the wheel, you’ll be guided down different streams.  The trick is to be aware of the opportunities and relationships that present themselves.

Business, like the rest of life, is all about relationships. Some are positive and some aren’t, but all have value – even if it’s to show you how you don’t want to be as a leader.

What’s the most useful piece of leadership advice you have received?

Don’t try and do it all by yourself.

What’s the most rewarding thing about leading?

Getting things done! If you have an idea, or see an opportunity and apply talent and luck, you can get things accomplished.  Also seeing staff flourish and grow is hugely satisfying.

What do you find the most challenging?

Not having the time or resources to do everything you want to do. There is so much opportunity and potential.  Sometimes we can be nimble and get things done and sometimes red tape murders a good idea.

What gets easier as you become more experienced as a leader?

Building relationships.  A really strong network of associates and contacts is hugely valuable.

What doesn’t get any easier?

Being responsible for employing people and being part of their financial stability.

What attributes do you think Kiwis most look for in their leaders?

Honesty, strong vision, commitment, passion and humility.

Who has inspired you most as a leader?

I had a manager in my early years who often used the phrase  ‘upward spiral thinking’, or the power of thinking positively.  It’s very easy to slip into the negative, which can be quite destructive. If challenges can be seen as positives then the frame shifts. It’s difficult to be negative around truly positive people!  She also was a big believer in intuition – or ‘listening to my ancestors’ as she would call it. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time but have grown into it!

These days there are a number of very impressive and clever business people associated with the Phoenix including owners Rob Morrison and Gareth Morgan. There is always something to be learned from extremely successful business people.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about leadership?

That you have to do it by yourself. If you surround yourself with good people you can rely on them to be part of the process and it becomes much more collaborative and powerful.

I find ideas are best when not fully thought through – the value of a ‘quarter-thought’.  My own style is to have conversations – it’s how I work through issues or opportunities.  Talking teases out the idea.  Other peoples’ opinions add to a kind of organic birth of the concept.

If you were able to go back in time, what leadership advice would you give the young you?

Trust the process, surround yourself with good people (especially those who have strengths in your weakness), and trust them.  Have a strong well thought out vision. Enjoy the ride!