Richard Haddrill is a CEO industry veteran with a passion for success. Leading 3 successful & fast-growing high-tech companies to significant shareholder returns, Richard also serves as a mentor to executives. He is also a Board member & investor in numerous public and private companies. Previously a Managing Partner at Ernst & Young [North America & Rocky Mountain Region], Richard brings a wealth of experience to the company while actively committing to his charitable endeavors in supporting youth and the arts.
Today we explore the Art of Leadership with Richard, a man who has spent the better part of his career mastering the field. Having a proven track record in handling both local & international companies, he shares how he handles executives, teams, & even establishes winning company cultures.
Listen to his take on diversity, collaboration, recruitment & even termination. Lastly, learn how to assess your team member’s strengths & how not to let ego get in the way of making the best decision for the company.
Tune in to get the best scoop on Leadership wisdom today!
Why you have to check out today’s episode
- Learn from Richard’s success in establishing a winning company culture in whatever venture you will take on
- Find out the top characteristics that make a strong team, the factors in maintaining company culture, & boosting shareholder value
- Learn Richard’s blueprint on how to successfully lead diverse team members & integrate cultural differences for business success
“I always said that if I couldn’t convince the board of directors that I was right about something, maybe I wasn’t right. The same thing is true with my teammates. No leader, no CEO has all the answers; their troops are closer to the action than they are.” – Richard Haddrill
00:24 – Top 2 accomplishments that Richard is most proud of in his career.
01:26 – How Richard remains true to his core values while accommodating diverse team members
02:17 – What characteristics Richard looks for that makes up a strong team
04:13 – The key to maximizing shareholder value of a company
05:32 – What are the benefits of being a Collaborative leader in a big organization
06:37 – The 2 Critical Factors for maintaining company culture & maximizing shareholder value
07:43 – On handling different companies with distinct cultures & dynamics
10:32 – Richard’s blueprint for integrating cultural differences in a business setting
12:49 – How Richard leveraged his international experience & discoveries for his own business
16:35 – Having accomplished his career endeavors, Richard shares what’s meaningful for him
19:07 – Tips for young leaders looking to succeed in their career
“To run a bigger organization, you really have to be a collaborative leader vs a command & control leader. If you get strong people & let them have some say in the strategy, role & responsibility, you tend to attract & retain better people long term & you get better decisions.” – Richard Haddrill
“The hardest thing to do as a leader is to let someone go. But you find out that if you do it, you’re actually doing everybody a favor”– Richard Haddrill
“Focus on being an active listener. Communication is always important in any aspect of any business. Then, of course, observation—this is a listening skill too.”– Richard Haddrill
“Show respect for the local country. You have to have your broad company principles but also show respect for how they approach things, listen to them & let them have a voice. Another thing is treating them equally across the globe—same compensation plan, same goal setting, same meetings.”– Richard Haddrill
People / Resources Mentioned:
- The Groop: Collaborative Investors & Adviserse to Committed Business Leaders: http://thegroop.com/
- Ernst & Young: https://www.ey.com/en_us
- “Hire Slow & Fire Fast”: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/04/14/hire-slow-and-fire-fast-why-leaders-should-heed-this-advice/?sh=4af8b978573c
Connect with Richard Haddrill
Full Interview Transcript
(Note: This transcript was created with an AI transcription service. Please forgive any transcription or grammatical errors. We probably sounded better in real life.)
Dr. Katrina Burrus 00:07
Welcome to the International Leadership. Welcome to the excellent international leadership podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Katrina Burrus. And today, we have Richard Haddrill. Is that correct?
Richard Haddrill 00:24
Dr. Katrina Burrus 00:24
Haddrill to get that one right. Haddrill. Okay, so what are you the most proud of in your business career?
Richard Haddrill 00:35
Well, you know, I suppose it would be, if I look back on it, the two things. One would be, I think there’s some 14 or 15 CEOs out there in the world that worked for me. And in one way or another, I mentored and coached. And I continue to do that in my halftime, semi retired work career. And so that, that makes me feel really good to watch those people succeed. And the second thing is that, you know, the companies that I was CEO of three in a row, had terrific returns for shareholders, which is what your job is, as a CEO, and, you know, a $10,000 investment would have been worth something like $20 million at the end of that run. So it was very good compounded return for the investors in those three companies, and spawned a lot of great leaders for other companies.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 01:26
Wonderful. So what was the biggest challenge to get there?
Richard Haddrill 01:32
Oh, I I think it’s, you know, it’s all about people, right, in terms of building a good team and being a leader. And in my experience, those CEOs are that are my way or the highway, I don’t do so well. So I think continuing to evolve my leadership style to accommodate different team members, you know, so that they didn’t always have to do it my way. But they could spread their own wings and do things their way, but still fit in with the team, the culture and the direction we were going as a as an organization. So I think it was just continuing to evolve my own leadership style to be more flexible on certain points, but still remain true to my core values and my core principles.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 02:18
What were your core values?
Richard Haddrill 02:21
Well, whenever I joined a team, as the leader, I always try to have a couple of things in common one was high energy, strong teamwork, and sort of a culture that we did what we said we were going to do, if you look at all the studies throughout business, and athletics and everything, it’s people who honor their commitments, do better have that certain sense of self discipline. So for example, somebody once asked me what is first thing you did when you started to go over this? I said, Well, I started meetings on time, and I ended them on time, and sounded pretty simple. But it’s that little cultural thing of, we do what we say we’re going to do the meetings from 11 to 12, we’re going to do that. And we’re going to therefore, we say we’re going to turn something in at this time, we’re going to do this for this customer, we always do it and that culture combined with high energy and teamwork produces pretty good results and, and a fun work environment because you know, you can trust your fellow teammate to do their to do what they say they’re going to do.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 03:22
So how do you keep it high energy?
Richard Haddrill 03:26
Well, a little bit set, the the how the example you set, right, of how you conduct meetings, how, what’s the timeframe, you expect things to get done on? You know, how your own work level, how long you allow people to have a meeting with you, for example, you know, many meetings, I would have what I call stand up meetings, where you get two or three, four people together, and you make a decision real quick. Don’t even sit down and get the coffee out and then notepads. Right. So that is just a little cultural thing that creates an energy from the top down and trickles down. The time is important times everything. And customers need responsiveness as well. So we try to do the same thing for customers as we do for internal projects and it really works. It’s just about the tone at the top.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 04:13
I see I see. So what are your key drivers for shareholder value?
Richard Haddrill 04:21
Well, I think one thing that is really important is to make financially driven decisions. And that’s easier than it really is. It sounds easier than it really is. Because we’re not the businesses I ran we’re technology businesses, but most companies today move at a fast enough pace that your financial goals and plans can’t really go on beyond about three years. So make decisions today that will drive certain returns within one two and three years. And how you can execute against those plans are really the keys to drive and shareholder value and not wasting time on initiatives that won’t drive that improved profitability or improved revenue growth, or improved partnerships. So keeping on track with the goals and making decisions that are driven around finance, even though not everybody’s a financial expert, they can understand enough of those principles to make decisions that way. And then again, back to not wasting time staying focused on the important things, always prioritizing, we go over goals every year, make sure we’re prioritizing the important ones and stay focused on the important ones. And what works.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 05:32
Yeah, how much do you depend on your team members to help you in that process?
Richard Haddrill 05:39
Oh, quite a bit. I think to run a bigger organization, you really have to be a collaborative leader versus a command and control leader. I mean, both styles work. But if you get strong people and let them have some say, in strategy, let them have some say, and their role and responsibility. You tend to attract and retain better people for the long term and you get better decisions. You know, I always said, If I couldn’t convince the board of directors that I was right about something, maybe I wasn’t right. Same thing is true with my teammates, if they think we should do it one way. And I think another sometimes like Okay, try it your way. If it doesn’t work, we’ll do it my way, and and it works well, because yeah, you don’t bet 1000. But be clear, no leader, no CEO, has all the answers and their troops are closer to the action than they are.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 06:30
So what would you see are other elements that are really important to create a good team?
Richard Haddrill 06:37
Well, obviously recruiting one company, I was fortunate enough to lead, the founder was really good at recruiting. So he got beyond his management capabilities when I came in. But I had excellent young, high energy talent, that would take any mountain we decided to take. So that’s very important. And I think many companies don’t put quite enough emphasis on that, you know, that saying of hire, slow, and fire fast is very important, and that brings the second point on the termination because if you have weak performers, they not only don’t get their job done, but they tend to demoralize the other teammates and cause distractions for them and the hardest thing to do as a leader is to let someone go, but I find that if you do it, you’re actually doing everybody a favor your remaining teammates, that person needs to go find something else, they’ll have more fun and do better at and yet, we just don’t want to do it. So yeah, recruiting and I say it terminations are, are pretty important to keep in the culture and keeping the shareholder value driving forward.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 07:43
Good point. You also, you’ve had a lot of experience with the companies buying it and all that. So what happens if you took a company and the culture wasn’t really what you want it to? To be? So what are the things that you need to think of and do to change the culture?
Well, it’s a really, it’s a challenge, I think that can vary by opportunity. So again, I’ll draw two of my experiences. One, when I joined a CEO, the average age was 29 years old and the teammates were extraordinarily high energy and recruited well. Then five years later, I moved to another company where the average age was 46 and a half or 47. And again, we’re not supposed to look at age, and we don’t, but it’s only a benchmark, to say the second company was much more entrenched in their culture, much less malleable, much more difficult to change the culture, because it was in a rather incestuous industry where people had been in the industry a long time and it was people that had been used to doing things a certain way. So there, it was just continued blocking and tackling the old, you know, analogy and sports of just the hard work of working those same principles, again, about high energy, goal focused customer focused, and I don’t know that there was any magic, it just took a lot longer but once you could get the key leaders to adopt that, even though the others were slower to come around, I think they eventually did but it clearly took two years to change that culture versus about six months in the first company. So just more of the same but hard work.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 09:32
I see. So you saying basically if the the employees are younger, they’re more adaptable, and they’ll change more quickly.
Richard Haddrill 09:42
That certainly was my experience. And I think the industry has something to do with it as well. The first company was in supply chain, which was, you know, pretty dynamic industry. The second was in gaming, which although it sounds like a fun, dynamic industry, the employees in that industry were almost spent their entire or career in that industry. So they didn’t have as much experience in different types of industries, different businesses to bring to bear and accept changes quickly. They were just used to doing things one way. So, you know, it just I don’t think I use a sledgehammer at the second company, but it was more persistence, persistence, persistence, and probably the hardest thing to change was to get that energy level up to where people really had the responsiveness and to get it done attitude that I was accustomed to in my prior positions.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 10:32
I see. So what about international conferences, you know, going international? Because you have had quite a bit of experience with Ernst and Young working internationally. So what, what do you have to consider to integrate different national cultures and also change the corporate corporate culture?
Richard Haddrill 10:52
Well, that’s certainly varies by country, in my experience, and each of the companies I had did have six substantial international businesses. I do think one thing that served me well was to focus on being a really, really active listener. As I entered new countries, or met new teammates, overseas, communication is always important in any aspects of business. But boy, when it’s international, whether it’s speaking more slowly, because English is a second, or third or fourth language, or there’s a translator, listening carefully to what they’re trying to communicate and repeating, to make sure there’s no miscommunication. And once you’ve gotten there, then of course, it’s observation. This is a listening skill to about the different cultural differences. I mean, you’re very international, global, but you probably know some of the same things I do the other, the Germans, it’s all about the contract. So you better get the contract right up front. The French will argue about everything, but they’re not really mad at you. The Indian culture is they will nod their head as if they’re agreeing, and they hate to disagree. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to get the project done on time. So those little things that you have to listen, learn pick up from local people, and then do you have to adapt, I don’t think it’s easy to force them to be, say, American, which is my route. At the same time, though, we want to get that culture of high energy do what you say you’re going to do and those principles, I think, permeate across teams, no matter what country they’re in, winning, begets winning. So trying to set goals that people can achieve. So they get the customer of winning, doing what you say you’re going to do. Being very customer focused, responding quickly, setting reasonable, but tight deadlines, all help with creating that culture, despite the differences in the different countries. And I didn’t really have any issue getting that broad culture that I like, in any country.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 12:49
Oh, good. And what do you think that having that international experience, how was it helped you in business later on?
Richard Haddrill 13:00
Well, clearly, as I went to, for example, when I first went overseas, I had not been outside the United States, except to Canada and Mexico for day trips. So it was a rude awakening for me to move to Paris, and spend two years with 17 countries, across Europe, I skewed the 17 offices across Europe, and others in Asia, and the Middle East. So it was a big awakening for me. But what I learned from that experience through this aggressive listening was certain principles that I just recently mentioned that work in every country, which is showing respect for the local country. Again, I see this so often, especially with American companies, because our market is so big in America, that they go to other countries and try to force people to be exactly the way we are. And that’s just doesn’t work as well as respecting the local to the local culture. To some extent, again, you have to have your broad company principles, but to respect how they approach things to listen to them and let them have a voice. And then another thing is just treating them equal across the entire globe. I know many, many technology companies use subcontractors to do their tech work. Well, I always employed the folks on technology, whether they were India or Eastern Europe, as employees, so they felt like part of the teams, the same compensation plans, the same goal setting and the same meetings, they were part of it no matter where they were in the world. That was before zoom calls.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 14:32
Right, and so when you came back and worked in the US, did it give you any different perspective? What did you take with you?
Richard Haddrill 14:42
Well, I mean, certainly I was a broader thinker. In terms of go to market I didn’t any longer think about well, let’s just do the US first, and then we’ll go somewhere else. I thought, Where can we go with a new product more broadly and faster? Because it wasn’t an unknown to me. It wasn’t a fear factor for me, I knew that people there and the customers there appreciated the same product functionality, the same service level as anywhere in the world. So I think and then I had developed some relationships around the globe that were helpful in recruiting or introductions. And so that was spending time overseas was very valuable. And it’s difficult for many people to do because they do lose their connection back home. But at the same time, if they’ll grasp all that experience, and bring it back with them, it certainly was valuable for me and how I thought about growing businesses after that.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 15:36
So I guess there’s a certain time in Melbourne to spend abroad without losing time or connections with the headquarter or to not be forgotten.
Richard Haddrill 15:49
It’s a great point. And one of the things I did my the company when I was living in Paris, was headquartered in Atlanta. And I came back every month, to spend a few days walking the halls of the headquarters office talking to the top executives talking to my support teams, because I didn’t want to lose that out of sight, out of mind. And I wanted them to think about my customers and my teammates, whenever they were rolling out a new compensation plan, a new product, a new service, I wanted to be top of mind to make sure our global customers got the same service, whether they were in the US or anywhere in the world. And it worked, but it was on me. I couldn’t count on them to think about us. I had to be the one to make that happen.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 16:36
Great. That’s great advice. Yes. So, Richard, you’ve been very successful with all your companies, and now you’re mentoring other people? So what would you say that now to be more successful, they are already successful. So what would be meaningful for your life? Now?
Richard Haddrill 16:54
I do, there’s just nothing like seeing others do well, and that maybe you’ve had a little help in that, right. So I really enjoy. One of the things I’ve observed some times, if you’ve been a CEO, and you go on a board, you’re so used to having it your way that you’re not a good collaborator, as a board member. So I’ve had to be careful that I as a board member, am a collaborator, that I make it safe for the CEO or other executives who get my advice, to disagree with me to do it a different way. They, they have a bigger window than I have as a board member. And so they see their field of play better than I do. But I have breadth of experience. And I have depth of experience. So those together can be powerful, but I just can’t let my ego get in the way that I’ve got to be right. And I think that’s worked well for me. And it’s made me you know, have more and more people appreciate my involvement. And that’s what’s success to me now is helping those people do well. And when I do their businesses seem to do well, their employees do well, their customers do well. So you’re kind of in your own way, helping the world be a better place and helping people grow, be happy.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 18:05
So that was a big transition, if I heard you correctly, between being a CEO where you have more direct control, and being a board member member stepping back
Richard Haddrill 18:14
Dr. Katrina Burrus 18:14
and collaborating with the other board members, and not necessarily being right. Is that correct? That’s exactly right. And it can be frustrating at times, because you you, your ideas will move at a slower pace, your suggestions will often move at a slower pace than when you’re the CEO. But you just have to accept that’s the way it is. And like you say, you can’t always be right. Someone once told me sometimes you have to be right enough to be wrong. Which which means kind of what you’re saying just don’t push your point so hard, given the input, let them decide. Yes, well, wonderful,
Richard Haddrill 18:49
Most, and most decisions aren’t so detrimental, that if they make a mistake, you can’t change it. Right Yeah, I think so
Dr. Katrina Burrus 18:54
Right. Right. So that’s a lot of literature says you’re allowed to make a mistake, because that’s a learning process. So hopefully that’s correct. Yeah. Right. So we’re coming to the end of our podcast. So I wanted to ask you, What tip would you give to a young leader that really wants to succeed?
Richard Haddrill 19:15
Well, first of all, get a great coach like Dr. Burrus, because
Dr. Katrina Burrus 19:18
flattery will get you everywhere.
Richard Haddrill 19:20
But it is helpful to have a sounding board right. And a coach is one great example board members can be but if you’re younger, finding people in the organization or outside of the organization that can help you when you’ve got a challenge. And by the way, people love to help in that way. There’s no greater compliment you can give anyone than ask their advice. So even whenever I had a leadership position, I always had a network of people within the organization and outside that I could call on different issues and bounce ideas off of and I’ve got one that I’ve used for 2530 years now and he’s he’s at eightythree years old, and I still call him for advice today. So it’s a wonderful, you can always get better.Right?
Dr. Katrina Burrus 20:06
Right? Right. Right. So where can people get ahold of you?
Richard Haddrill 20:11
Well, in my website is a groop.com ,and you know, I’ll, I’ll post this webcast on LinkedIn, they can find me on LinkedIn. And, you know, I do investing and consulting and board member work and have a good little team to support me doing that. And we’d love to hear from exciting companies that I can help.
Dr. Katrina Burrus 20:31
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Richard. Thank you.
Richard Haddrill 20:34
Thank you, doctor. It’s been fun.
Thank you for listening to the Excellent International Leadership Podcast. You can subscribe to all future podcasts at excellentexecutivecoaching.com and select podcasts. Join us each Thursday to learn more about the latest trends and leadership techniques and bring your leadership to the next level. To learn more about Dr. Burrus’s coaching programs and the International Leadership Mastermind, use the contact form at excellentexecutivecoaching.com.