“My focus is giving people a vision, confidence to achieve the vision, and joy and fun in achieving that vision. ”
Founded in 2003 and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2007, the iProperty Group owns and operates Asia’s No.1 network of property websites under the iProperty.com umbrella brand. Within one year of being named Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the iProperty Group, Chmiel established profitability in four of six business units, and turned a positive operating cash flow. The Tegernsee-born German holds an MBA from INSEAD (France), a Computer Science Degree (Masters Equivalent) from Technische Universitaet Munich and is also a CPA and a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). He shares his thoughts on leadership.
Did you have any role models when you were growing up? What did you learn from them?
I was always very impressed by visionaries – people who led change in society or in companies. Besides that, I learned a lot from people I worked with and worked for, as well as my family. They key learnings involved the importance and power of the most motivated team, and the benefits of empowering rather than micro-managing people.
What makes you an effective leader?
I have learned a lot of the soft skills by doing, by leading and by getting feedback. The iProperty Group employs 403 personnel (as of September 15 2015) across all the countries it operates in, and one of the most difficult challenges was to engage with team members and empower them to feel proud and excited about what they do, which in turn produced a winning team that is aligned with the vision of the business of ‘infinite opportunities’ for 2015.
How different are you, in terms of personality and leadership style to other peers in your industry?
I think every leader has a unique element to their style. My focus is giving people a vision, confidence to achieve the vision, and joy and fun in achieving that vision. I challenge people but I avoid a culture of fear and foster a culture of pride and team spirit.
What kind of a leader are you?
My leadership adjusts based on the situation the company or project is in. I am constantly learning and improving my style, based on education, on experience and on feedback.
Can good leadership be taught?
Yes, good leadership can be taught, but requires the person wanting to be a leader to be open minded and always willing to learn and listen. You learn by personal experience, by attending training, by looking at how other people deal with situations, by reading books or magazines.
How do you tackle human resource issues?
A Human Resources department is critical in supporting the leaders of the business to tackle HR issues, and to attract, develop and retain people. However, this task cannot be and should not be delegated to HR alone. Each business leader and manager needs to be on top of it as well.
Apart from doing well financially, what factors are important for a person to be considered ‘successful’?
Making a difference – having a profession and not just a job – enjoying the company of co-workers and celebrating successes together. A successful leader creates a vision and supports the company in achieving this vision. A successful leader is flexible about how to achieve the vision but never compromises the ultimate goal. People follow this leader because they trust him, not because they fear him.
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