Q&A with Deborah Dillon
1. What motivates you
When I am able to work with others to help them to unlock and tap into their personal potential so that they can surpass their expectations and accomplish so much more than they originally felt they were capable of. And whenever I step into the learning and development space there is always two-way learning, I will always walk away with a little more insight which increases my depth and understanding generally at the end of a facilitated learning event, consultation or coaching session.
2. How do you handle pressure?
Well when I’m consciously aware that I am under pressure I am able to draw on a lot of the strategies that I have learnt to help me grounded such as, noticing what I am saying to myself that exacerbates the situation and reframing that internal dialogue or giving myself the space to think. The challenge of course is noticing I can get in front of it before it becomes too much, this is getting better with time as I work to make a conscious effort to be aware.
3. What will change most about the world of work in the next few years?
The impact of increasing millennial leadership and how their mindsets around values, feedback and work life balance will influence the modern workplace.
4. What’s your defining career moment so far?
Changing my career in my mid- thirties from social housing to learning and development.
5. What book, film or tv show has really changed the way you thought about something?
Someone recommended ‘Feel the Fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers when I was having a crisis of confidence when I moved careers and wondered if I had made a huge mistake as the steep learning curve seemed insurmountable. It absolutely redefined how I looked at fear and I draw on it every time I now have a wobble.
6. What’s your favourite sport to business lesson or story?
The leadership lessons from Basketball coach Ken Carter. There is so much that can be replicated in the business world. The unconditional positive regard and genuineness he had in the ability of every member of his team, to setting clear expectations, making a stand and not shying away from feedback. If you haven’t seen it yet watch the film based on his story ‘Coach Carter’.
7. What makes you proud?
My kids. They are both young adults now but they are determined, independent and grounded young people with very wise heads on their shoulders. I think I’ve had at least half a hand in that.
8. What makes you angry?
Poor or inadequate customer service really pushes my buttons. It’ simple without the customer there would be no service so to me providers just need to invest time in getting that right, whether it be upskilling people, empowering them or just treating them well so they care enough to deliver.
9. Which leader do you most admire most and why?
I don’t have a single leader that I can draw on but the quality that I admire the most in a leader is the ability to treat and see people as human beings first.
10. What are your best and worst characteristics?
Worst: I want things to be ‘right’ which can slow me down as I want to check all angles and perspectives.
Best: I am able to develop rapport and gain buy-in with a wide range of people pretty quickly
11. What would you like to learn and why?
I would like to be able to play the piano, it really allows you to convey a range of emotions. I have stopped and started a few times, but it is still on my bucket list.
12. If you could choose anybody, who would you be for a day?
Either of my kids, I believe growing up as a teen now is pretty tough, with a completely different set of challenges but at the same time with a wealth of fantastic opportunities. I would love to see what the world looks like from the perspective of a young person. Only for a day mind as I would not wish to have to cope with the pressures of social media for longer than that!
13. Who would you like to invite for a dinner party, living or dead?
Priscillah Mabelane, BP Southern Africa’s first black female CEO against a legacy of apartheid, what an amazing feat. For me she is a huge inspiration. I would love to hear her journey about her challenges and triumphs. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome.” Booker T. Washington.
14. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It was from my manager when I was newly promoted to my first management role and I wasn’t quite sure how to play it. He told me there will be times when I have to step into that manager role and it will be clear. Outside of that just be yourself and take time getting to know people. I found this invaluable.
15. What would your motto be (if you haven’t already got one)?
Feel the fear and do it anyway!
16. What personal value would you never compromise?
Authenticity – It’s better to be a first-rate version of yourself than a second-rate version of someone else