Leadership Interview

In this interview with Debbie Ruston learn about how her previous experiences has led her to leadership, why some people are managing and not leading, and how to avoid conflict.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today – where you’re from, your educational and/or work background?

I have been an entrepreneur and trainer since 1986. My initial business was in Ladies’ Fashion. And as a business owner, I was personally committed to ongoing learning and development, and that was really when I was introduced to leadership development.

After 18 years with that business, I was ready for a new direction. I decided to start a business that supported my passion of helping others realize their potential.

What made you interested in leadership?

My own study of leadership and the difference it made in my life. When we see something that is effective in our own lives, it’s natural to want to share that passion with others.

What do you believe is the key to effective communication with your team?

Leading by example inspires others they can do it too, and giving people the training required and the space to make leadership decisions helps them raise the bar in what they are capable of.

It’s important to treat individuals with respect, help them learn, grow and trust them to be the leaders they are capable of being. We tend to give into the belief that others have of us, so if you instill a trust and expectation of what they can accomplish, it tends to give them the belief they can.

How do you keep people motivated despite obstacles or setbacks?

Being solution oriented and fully committed to your goal is vital. When you are a person that IS solution oriented, and you are committed for the long term to the goal, you become SELF motivated. Motivation is great, however, it does wear off. The key is to become SELF motivated.

 Which mistake do you believe leaders make most often, and how could they avoid it?

There are far too many in a leadership position, that are not leading, they are “managing”. Ego often gets in the way of effectively leading people.

What do you believe is a quality that a leader should try to eliminate from their team?

Ego and control has to be removed to effectively build leadership in any organization.

Is there a particular well-known leader or company that you find inspiring? If so, why?

Richard Branson. He is an average guy that simply took consistent, simple, actions on each of his goals. He keeps things simple due to his dyslexia and is one of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet. He is not afraid to think out of the box, is willing to go against “conventional wisdom”, and has fun in everything he does.

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Are there any specific apps, tools or software that you use for productivity/communication?

I have used a simple paper daytimer for over 30 years. It is broken down by month at a glance, and then each week is broken down by day, with 15 minute increments from 7 am through to 10 pm. I put absolutely everything in my daytimer: appointments, calls, business tasks, personal and family commitments, exercise, everything I have responsibility for, and I tick off as I complete.

How do you resolve conflict within your team?

I don’t have conflict with my team. The key is being solution oriented and committed and when necessary, brainstorming on ideas to solve any potential conflict. Also working with the highest level of ethics and integrity and surrounding yourself with like minded people.

What advice would you give to upcoming leaders?

Work on yourself and your leadership development. Very often people are promoted in the workplace because of their results in their previous role. For instance a sales rep is promoted to sales mgr because of their great sales results.

This is not enough to lead people, and why many fail as being effective in the new role. Don’t wait until you have the promotion….work on your leadership development always, help others succeed and don’t be threatened by their success. This will help you become a strong leader.

Do you have any particular hobbies or interests?

Yes, lots…I love yoga, music, dancing, concerts, travel, reading, studying personal development, repurposing, gardening, convertibles, cooking, and entertaining. I spend a ton of time with my family and friends and about to become a first time grandma, so that will bring about some new hobbies and interests.

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Debbie Ruston
Debbie has been a successful entrepreneur and trainer since 1986, and has spent her career helping people discover and overcome their limitations. She works with individuals, businesses and the educational sector to develop the mindset of an entrepreneurial leader. She believes in taking an active stand for true human potential. Debbie also authors articles for several publications, and hosts a weekly podcast. You can connect with her on social media or by email: [email protected]
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