- To build good teams, you first need to recruit the right people
- McCarthy actively works on developing people so they can see a better future for themselves
- If you’re not fighting to develop yourself, you’re not going to win in the long-term
This is part two of a two-part interview with Ryan McCarthy CA. If you missed it, read part one now.
Photography by Andrew Ratter.
McCarthy is passionate about the efficacy of Gallup’s strengths-leadership approach. When he was at the Gallup conference in Nebraska, many people stopped and asked him his “magic formula” for being a good manager. He told them that he selects the best talent, focuses that talent on what people are naturally good at, and then helps them turn that talent into a strength. As a leader, his role is “to ensure the individual has the opportunity to use those strengths every day in an engaging environment”.
But to build good teams, you first need to recruit the right people. Stryker is one of the hardest places in the world to get a job, he says.
“You don’t come without six interviews.”
Gallup first interviews any potential candidate and measures his or her profile with the level of talent required.
“I’ve seen IQ tests, profiles and lots of different ways of doing recruitment,” he says. “I’ve never come across anything as accurate as Gallup. It’s uncanny.”
Once employed, McCarthy then works on actively developing people so they can see a better future for themselves. For this he adopts Gallup’s 34 strengths framework. Part of the process is to also become “more aware of your weaknesses, which we call derailers”. These derailers can include a person’s dominant strength when it gets in the way of what a person is actually trying to achieve.
“A lady in my team was very competitive,” he explains. “So even though competition was very motivating, it was also a derailer because she was competitive with other people in her team. We then worked with her to help her redefine what she was competitive with, so instead of competing with the team, it could be about competing for an outcome.”
Feedback hurts – but works
McCarthy keeps himself accountable with “truthful feedback”. Eighteen months into working at Stryker, he had a 360-degree review “delivered with an iron bar”. McCarthy admits that what hurt the most was being told he was too focused on the outcome and not enough on the team.
“I can move too fast, and leave people behind.”
Although he was frustrated at hearing the feedback, in hindsight it allowed him to become more self aware.
As an industry we need to be investing more in CAs getting better people leadership training.
“The further you go up in your career, the less truth you hear. You get into this spiral of thinking that you are incredibly successful and everyone else around you is not. Whereas keeping yourself grounded and having relationships that are good enough, that people care enough to tell you the truth, that’s the ultimate accountability.”
These days McCarthy actively seeks out feedback.
“Just recently I had a one-on-one meeting with Richard Barber, commercial manager, and I kept asking him until he told me, ‘you can be very judging of people’. I felt fine with that. I am aware of it.”
So how can chartered accountants become the best managers that they can be?
“As an industry we need to be investing more in CAs getting better people leadership training and learning more relationship skills. A chartered accountant who has strong relationships and technical expertise will be in far more conversations in a business and can add a lot more value.”
Getting proactive on ethics
He’s also an advocate of CAs taking a proactive role in keeping businesses ethical and transparent.
“As a professional body we’ve got to continue to fight for public policy that is right for Australia and New Zealand. Taxation is a great example of where Chartered Accountants ANZ can make a big difference. Our voice needs to be clear and active.”
Focus relentlessly on your own development.
And his advice to other chartered accountants?
“Focus relentlessly on your own development. If you’re not fighting to develop yourself, you’re not going to win in the long term.”
As for McCarthy, he credits much of his success to his family. The only person more nervous than him at his first boxing fight was his wife, Sonja. “My family is my biggest support. They seem to believe that I can do anything. Knowing that just makes me feel like I can.”
This article was first published in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue of Acuity magazine.