Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a globally recognised leadership expert, best-selling author, columnist and company director. With a PhD in leadership and culture, she is the only Australian recognised in a recent list of the world’s top 30 leadership thinkers to watch.
Her latest book Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership went straight to the bestseller lists and offers a wealth of practical advice for everyone when it comes to becoming the best leader at work and in life.
Sunshine Coast Council CEO Emma Thomas says :“We are extremely fortunate to have the gift of Kirstin’s wisdom and she is a local Sunshine Coast talent. Kirstin has had a significant impact on the leadership landscape in Australia and globally and inspires us all to be modern leaders.”
My Weekly Preview caught up with Dr Ferguson to discover what readers can expect from the book, as well as some
great advice when it comes to the art of modern leadership.
Are great leaders born or made?
Anyone can become a great leader, but all of us need to practise. It is also important to remember that everyone is a leader –regardless of what we have been told our entire lives, regardless of the work we do, our formal title at our company or the way we spend our days. We lead in the way we impact those around us through the words we use, the choices we make and the behaviours we role model to others.
What is the one trait that all great leaders possess?
I don’t think there is any one trait that will guarantee you are a great leader, but having a belief that leadership is a privilege and not an entitlement is a very good start. Leading is about serving others and not believing others are there to serve you.
What do you consider modern leadership?
A modern leader understands that every situation, conversation, crisis – whatever the context may be – will require us to lead with our head and heart. The ‘art’ of modern leadership is about understanding how to draw upon the right head and heart leadership attributes at the right time and in the right amount. I firmly believe leadership is a series of moments and every moment offers us the opportunity to have a positive impact or leave a positive legacy in our wake.
Who do you consider are today’s best modern leaders and why?
On the world stage, (former New Zealand prime minister) Jacinda Ardern and (Ukraine president) Volodymyr Zelensky stand out precisely because they are so different to other world leaders. They have been able to integrate their style of leadership across all aspects of their life – at home, in wartime, in political office. You don’t feel you are getting anything other than a person who brings all the traits of leadership of the head and heart to every situation.
As a celebrated leader yourself, what is the best piece of leadership advice you have been given?
Say ‘yes’ to opportunities. Even if you don’t see the potential in yourself yet, trust the person who does. Say ‘yes’ and you will become a better leader for being prepared to learn along the way.
What prompted you to write Head and Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership?
I wanted to articulate why some leaders, who seem so different to those we have experienced in the past, are just right for now. I think the book has captured a moment, especially post-COVID, when we want our leaders to be real and authentic, and able to lead with empathy and humility, but also capable and curious.
The book brings to the forefront the importance of leading with both head and heart. Tell us a little more about that ethos and what we can expect from the book in general?
Leading with our heads is what we are most comfortable doing. It is a safe space for most of us because we can see, feel and touch the work our head produces. Leading with the heart is much harder to visualise and measure but is just as important as leading with our heads. Our hearts are where we process our emotions, feel a connection with others and develop our values.
Who needs to read your book?
The book is a reminder that we are all leaders, even if just in our families or our communities. So, it is a book that is for everyone. It is a practical book with examples and ideas readers can put into practice straight away.
Join Kirstin Ferguson at Venue 114, Bokarina, on Thursday, July 20, at 6pm for a 7pm start. This is presented by Sunshine Coast Libraries in partnership with the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network.
Tickets: $25. For bookings, visit library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.