Marcus McCarthy is a Hunter business leader and innovator, on a mission to revitalise the practice of law.
After spending decades working in large national firms at management level, Marcus stepped out of traditional paths and set about redesigning the law firm from the ground up. The result is Nexus Law Group ‚Äì an innovative and award-winning commercial practice which delivers better value to clients and the lawyers who serve them.
Marcus believes that great leaders have a fundamental desire to do something better.
- How do you demonstrate leadership in less traditional workplace like Nexus?
I think demonstrating leadership is hard in any context. It’s probably more important in a business like ours because we run a national geographically dispersed network of lawyers and so you have to be more a focal point in that sort of organisation than you do in others.
What we try to do at Nexus is to have more communication systems, more protocols, more systems, probably more so than a traditional law firm so that we can actually communicate more effectively and draw together our team, as teams. They all need to feel that they are part of the collective – that is the real challenge in a business like ours. So we try really hard to pull it all together through protocols and systems, communication channels and we leverage technology to do it. So there is a lot of email communication, a lot of data rooms that we interact with. Our systems are based on cloud-based, meta-based, interactions so I think demonstrating leadership is the same in that organisation, you just do it in a different way.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
I think it is hard to actually tell the difference between the two, because being a good manager is a skill and if you are a good manager and a good communicator then you can often look like a leader.
I think leaders or people who are perceived as leaders have a fundamental, underlying driver that is perhaps different. They still have to be good managers but I think the driver is that they have an underlying desire to change things for the better in whatever field it might be. It could be politics, or business, or their personal life, but I think that really is the underlying characteristic of a leader as compared to a manager. They have got a desire to do something better and probably the bravery and the consistency that others don’t have.
So I think we are all managers in certain aspects of our life, but to actually step up beyond that is a really difficult thing to do – and to do it consistently and to put yourself apart from the crowd, which is what leaders really do.
- What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
I think that is a really good question and it is a hard question because I think leaders are just humans like the rest of us, with the same set of human foibles that we all have.
If I was to think about what is the one thing that they are more in danger of is because a leader sets themselves apart and if they achieve success in their chosen field then they are often elevated and given accolades and I think what comes with that is the possible inflation of ego and the mistakes that come with that. We have seen leaders fall by the wayside because of ego driven mistakes and it is unfortunate and I think that the great leaders are the ones that actually wash out that ego and really separate themselves from the position that they are in. Like Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama, you don’t see those ego driven mistakes, but we have seen that a lot in leaders.
- What do you believe makes business in the Hunter unique?
I am actually from Sydney originally and moved up 25 years ago to marry a local girl and I have never ever wanted to move back, because when I came here I just felt like the town was a real microcosm of the rest of the world.
It really is interesting in a business sense because it has some really, really big business here and I think the rest of Australia doesn’t realise how advanced Newcastle is in terms of green technology, heavy rail, port, mining, all of the things you associate with bigger places, and so I was just attracted to the town because it was that microcosm of the universe.
What I also like about the Hunter and that I find unique is the sort of local focus and desire amongst the people here to make it a better place and that is seen in the business world that I deal with I think. So I think it is this sort of local focus but international stance and professionalism about Newcastle that I really love.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
That is a really hard question for me. I tend not to look to others for inspiration, I try to focus on what I am doing and how I can do it better, but there are a lot of people in business in the Hunter that I find really impressive and probably not the people that usually are associated with that.
I have the privilege of working with a company called the Bloomfield Group and they have got a very impressive Board, run really well and a great company that gives back to the community so without mentioning names I think the entire Board there is a really impressive crew.
Some other people like Kristen Keegan, are a really good example of a leader in Hunter business and what she has done for the Business Chamber I think is really impressive. There are others but I think I will leave it at that!