Four Leaders On The Most Important Leadership Quality

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If could pinpoint the most important leadership quality, what would it be?

The Women in Insurance Leadership Summit was held in Sydney in May and 25 industry leaders shared stories of success (and failure).

We asked some of the speakers to share their most important quality that makes a great leader. From complex decision making to being authentic, here is what they had to say.

See also [The Women in Insurance & Wealth Management Leadership Summit]

Helen Silver, Chief General Manager, Workers Compensation, Allianz Australia Limited

“Being a great leader undoubtedly requires a certain set of skills – collaboration, stakeholder management, complex decision making and of course people leadership. Authentic leaders make great leaders – in my opinion.
I think real productivity and real drive comes from getting to people’s hearts; it’s how you move people to act. This requires authenticity. It can’t be manufactured. People know if you care. You know. Authentic leaders don’t just operate effectively; they create real and lasting change.”


Philip Carmont, Executive Director, Head of Funds and Insurance ANZ

“The most important aspect of leadership for me is being authentic. That is about rolling up your sleeves with the team and leading by example – both in terms of effort and in values. You ideally want a team that can push with you towards a common purpose. It’s no use having one or two stars – the whole team has to maintain a standard of excellence. And importantly, if any of the team are not at one with the common purpose, or they are simply not able to work at the required level, they probably need to be let off the bus.”


Jane McGovern, Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Financial Services

“It’s very difficult to define the “most important” quality that makes a great leader because there are so many things that a great leader must do in order to inspire people and bring out their best.”

“The most important quality that makes a great leader is empathy because the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person in a way that makes that other person feel important, valued and safe, will inevitably bring out the best in that person. To be able to show empathy, even where you may not actually agree with the perspective of the other person, can be very inspiring and demonstrates authenticity. Most good leaders will have vision, ambition, drive and charisma, but their leadership will feel disconnected unless they are empathetic.”


Georgette Nicholas Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia

“A trait in all great leaders is the ability to inspire and motivate teams and individuals to give and be their best. A leader values differences in gender, backgrounds, perspectives, and thinking. They acknowledge the best decisions come by creating an environment of inclusion, curiosity and respect for each other. Innovation and growth occur by empowering the team to share ideas and opinions, to challenge the norm and try new ways, and challenge ideas in return. A leader needs to have empathy and respect for others and model the leadership behaviours that support this environment.”

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