Leadership & Communication

Mark Bouris – disrupting the big four banks with leadership skills

7 Jan 2014, by Informa Australia

mark-bouris-Mark Bouris is a household name across Australia, both for his personal appearances in the Wizard Home Loans commercials and as host of the nation’s version of the Celebrity Apprentice.

Founded in 1996, Wizard Home Loans grew to be one of the biggest non-bank lenders in the country, eventually being sold to GE Money in 2004 for $500 million.

But Bouris didn’t rest on his laurels, and is currently chief executive of Yellow Brick Road, another financial services outfit that aims to overturn the traditional monopoly that Australia’s big banks have held over the years.

The entrepreneur, who admits he came from humble beginnings, continues to achieve success using transformational leadership skills and a dogged approach to the industry sector in which he operates.

Transformational leadership skills

Bouris has described himself as a transformational leader and a builder of disruptive business models that upset the status quo.

“I try to transform whole market segments and change the way they are traditionally done,” he explained in an interview with the ABC in 2013.

“Now that’s a big deal because I’m taking on the big four banks.”

Transformational leaders are known for this intellectually stimulating approach, and often encourage similar modes of thought in employees.

Adept at expressing a vision and providing strategic insights, a transformational leader is able to motivate and empower their staff.

Bouris’ secrets to success

Industry commentators and Bouris himself have discussed his leadership skills in detail over the years, and there are a number of characteristics that have been highlighted as influential to his success.

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P12GC17AchievingHighPerformanceLeadershipWEB-1Bouris has said that while he can micromanage his employees – a trait usually associated with transactional leaders – he does not feel it is his biggest strength.

“I don’t like to micromanage, because I’m a strategic thinker,” he stated.

“For most small business owners who lead their whole environment, it’s the worst thing they can do is be participants all of the time. They need to be observers.”

This allows managers to be more critical of their operations, he explained, because seeing the business from the outside provides an objective view of its performance.

Dedication

The businessman has freely admitted he works 14 hours a day, six days a week at least.

Talking to the ABC, he commented: “I don’t play golf, I don’t go yachting, I don’t go to the theatre. My job is what I love doing.”

However, Bouris was quick to explain that his approach is not necessarily about working non-stop. In fact, he practises yoga regularly during work hours and uses this time to reflect on business goals and ventures.

Focused communication skills

People familiar with Bouris’ appearances on television will recognise his charisma and interpersonal skills.

However, he emphasises the importance of clear and concise communication that serves a purpose.

“I don’t understand small talk, I don’t understand what it’s for. I can do it, but it’s more of a performance,” he said.

Instead, the best communication revolves around accurately conveying a strategic vision to employees who can then carry this out on your behalf.

Public-facing CEO

Robert Gottliebsen, writing for Business Spectator last year, said the Wizard Home Loans founder has tapped into the evolving consumer landscape and the more public role CEOs are being forced to play.

“As Bouris gains traction many CEOs are going to relook at their own role,” Mr Gottliebsen stated.

“CEOs are going to have to take a very different approach as they seek to reach stakeholders, whether they be customers, suppliers or self managed fund shareholders.”

He says that while these leaders will try not to duplicate Bouris’ approach, a trend for more public CEO marketing will emerge.

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