Change and leadership | Macro

Change and leadership

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By Debra Ward, Managing Director, Macro

Starting in a new role as a leader, I have noted some headline tips that have worked for me. As in all of these things, take what is relevant for your situation, or elements of the information, and tweak it to work for you.

Be the leader they want to see

Although the rule is usually to look, listen and assess before making big changes in the first three months, I found that coming in conservatively was not a winning strategy. The team wanted a strategy they could understand and follow, and in this situation the time was now, not in three months.

Bring your expertise and experience but not your history

I have been really conscious of not repeatedly saying “well at my old organisation we did it this way”. I wanted to bring to Macro what I had learned, adapt it and then use the relevant parts in my new role. There is no comparison – organisations are different, with different cultures, ways of operating, drivers, ambitions and team spirit. Trying to over-compare your past to your present does not open up all of the possibilities for the future, nor does it enable you to create something new.

Bringing YOU to the party

Jenny Garrett, an executive coach, trainer and author of ‘Rocking Your Role’, recently said: “When you lead from your life story, you demonstrate your purpose and passion.” Those of you who know me will know that I have only one way of being – I’m a little off beat, a little on the full-on side, but I always have passion for what I do, a commitment to those around me and a real sense of fun in all aspects of my life. I really want my team to see that in me, to know that it is important to have passion but not necessarily urgent, and to open the door to having fun.

Bring the team together

Everyone, rightly or wrongly, can become a little insular during a period of change. By bringing everyone together, this helps to galvanise the team and alleviate their fear for the future. It also enabled us to secure our foundations and to formulate our strategy together.

Create a shared vision

In the first three weeks, our team worked together to create our vision and focus. The values were already established within the company, but not in a tangible, operational way. By looking at our values, as they relate to our client, colleagues, company and community, we were really able to define our vision: Every Moment, Macro Impact.  Developing this together really brought us all onto the same playing field.

Gung Ho!      

In the book ‘Gung Ho!’, the author explains that the way of a beaver is all about staying in control of achieving the goal. As with any entrepreneurial company, in times of rapid growth, everyone does a bit of everything. However, these blurred lines were becoming permanent; eroding the unique skill set that the team leaders brought to each department. As any coach would, I put the right players in the right roles. We all knew the objectives of the game and we had all agreed the parameters of the field. I now needed to demonstrate that I trust their skill, get off the field and cheer from the side-lines. Showing mutual trust and respect so early on had an immediate positive impact, one I am honoured to have been a part of both as a giver and as a receiver.


The single biggest element that contributes to anxiety during any change is the unknown.  As such the team have embarked on formulating a communication strategy that ensures that all of our colleagues are better informed about our vision and strategy across the globe, using print, conferences, committees and social media to not only get our message out but also to gather feedback from our teams. By providing an opportunity for our team to influence and contribute to the future of the company, our team members feel empowered and a real sense of belonging, which in turn has created excitement about the future.


My standby favourite line is ‘have fun, lighten up and celebrate success!’ Understand when big steps are taken by individuals and when they are taken as a team. Celebrate not just when the goals are reached, but the progress along the way. Be genuine, be humble, be timely. Nothing is better than contributing to someone achieving their own greatness!


Macro has an enviable client list and this is a big part of our new focussed vision. I have been spending time with our clients to better understand their needs, drivers and objectives for the future. This will help us firm up our delivery strategy which will be specific to their needs and aspirations.

I am confident that our focus on clients, colleagues, company and community within our values of safety first, second nature, integrity, pursuit of a better way, opportunity for all and one team worldwide will deliver our vision - Every Moment, Macro Impact.


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Debra Ward became Managing Director of Macro on 2 January 2014.