For Craig McGregor, life in the Hunter is all about helping people achieve their goals – both professionally and personally.
Craig is the owner and Director of Hunter Recruitment Group as well as being the 2015 President of the Maitland Business Chamber.
As a down-to-earth professional who is all about human connection, he believes good leaders will see the value in their staff and know how to delegate.
For a snapshot of our audio interview with Craig McGregor, please view the above video.
TO READ THE EDITED INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE SEE BELOW.
- How does your leadership style change when you are undertaking your Chamber President role, as opposed to your business owner role?
Being the Maitland Business Chamber President is quite an honour, but it also comes with challenges in terms of the people I am leading. They are local business leaders in their own right, which is different to managing staff in your own business.
One of the biggest challenges is managing the egos in the room when we’re having our executive meetings, trying to stay on track, keeping the focus on Maitland and keeping individual agendas out of what we’re doing on an executive level.
- Considering the commitments you have, what tricks do you have to manage your priorities and your time?
It’s a tough juggling act. One of the things I’ve learnt since being President is to allocate certain times of my week to that role.
For example, after the monthly Chamber meetings on the third Thursday of the month I set aside the next two hours to meet with the Treasurer or other people within the Chamber. Then I usually allocate a Tuesday afternoon to go through and check what I need to achieve before the next meeting, or review what I need to get into the media or what my commitments are.
That way I’m not doing it on an ad hoc basis, it allows me to focus and get better output.
- What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
If I put my human resources consulting business hat on, what I see is people who are experts in their field trying to be people managers.
One of the issues I’ve always seen locally is that someone will get promoted, say in real estate, into a people management job because they are a really good real estate agent, but they’re not a good people manager.
So making that difficult choice, in terms of asking if the person is the right person to lead and manage the team, as opposed to rewarding them for their technical skills, is one of the biggest issues I see in leadership.
It’s also at the ownership level – someone starts a business, they grow their business and then they have people issues. They end up stuck managing people issues, rather doing what they love. They need to either outsource that or become a good leader and have someone else do the technical side.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
For me a leader is someone who is out the front of the business. Guiding, directing, taking charge and leading by example.
A manager is someone who has a specific task and will manage around that task and give direction.
It takes guts to be a leader, who is out the front and saying ‘follow me’. That’s one of the biggest learning curves for me currently in the Maitland Business Chamber. It’s not a small job, you need to take on the big issues for our local community and it takes courage. It’s testing my courage at the moment as to how far I want to take that!
- What do you believe makes business in the Hunter unique?
Maitland and Newcastle are very parochial towns. I was fortunate enough in my early career to gain a sales role for a large global organisation, for a very technical product.
They put me into this marketplace and after six months I quickly learnt they put me into this area, because of where I come from not because of my technical skills. I was highly successful in that role because I was from the Hunter and could talk the Hunter with our clients.
People from the Hunter want to deal with people locally. That’s a challenge for local people to leverage off that, it’s also challenge for people that come from outside of the region to gain a foothold in this space.
We need to shift the thinking of some of the larger organisations, government and councils, to change their thinking that experts aren’t local. One of the examples I can think of is the Newcastle City Council using a lot of Sydney agencies in recruitment. That just blows my mind. In Newcastle there are great recruiters who would do a great job with local candidates for that council, yet Sydney gets those jobs. I think there’s a real duality in that challenge, in that local people need to prove themselves or put their hand out to say they’re an expert and then have the larger organisations take heed of that and use our local product.