Tony Douglas has made a remarkable career out of dealing with complexity and creating inspired communities of people who are able to work together and deal with that complexity as a unit. From engineers to pilots, customer service people to administrators, all from around the globe, Tony’s brought the best out of diverse teams for some of the world’s most respected organizations. This week, we get his amazing perspective.
Leading Through Complexity, Creating a Community (ft. Tony Douglas). Tony Douglas on managing complexity in high-stakes environments
“It’s about people. There are no organizations without people. Simple as that.”
Tony Douglas is CEO of Etihad Aviation Group with over 30 years of international leadership experience in aerospace, transportation, infrastructure, and government sectors. He joined Etihad in 2018, after being the CEO of the UK’s Ministry of Defense Procurement Arm, supplying all the services and equipment for the British Armed Forces valued at over $20 billion pounds a year. Tony has previously held senior leadership positions in the UAE, such as CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, and in UK, his roles included the Managing Director of the Heathrow Terminal Five Construction Project, CEO of Heathrow Airport, and COO and Group Chief Executive Designate of Laing O’Rourke, a massive global construction company.
CORE TOPICS + DETAILS:
[10:53] – We All Have a Part to Play
Junior, senior, everybody in-between
While managing production lines of 4,000 or more people, all heavily unionized, Tony quickly learned that engaging with their community would send productivity through the roof— and failing to engage would be catastrophic. “We’ve all got a part to play,” he says. “Some parts are bigger than others, but unless they all play together, you’ll never get the potential that is clearly there.”
[26:06] – Embracing Diversity from the Ground Up
The difference between success and failure
In his role at Etihad, Tony works with people of 112 different nationalities and an average age of just over 30. He’s learned that diversity must become something that you embrace without a second thought, or you and your teams will fail. Tony even speaks to finding joy in the complexity of navigating diversity, knowing that it ultimately leads to more diverse perspectives and greater success.
[37:47] – Clarity of Purpose in an Organization
Translate what’s required and deliver it
Tony speaks to the importance of clarity and purpose at an organization from the top down. When that clarity is present, everyone within the organization can interpret it and deliver results built around an organization’s purpose.
[48:36] – The Power of Ramesh
Being brand ambassadors— and recognizing great ambassadors for your brand
Tony shares a story of an Australian family who stops at the same hotel in Abu Dhabi every time they have a stopover there en route to the UK. Why? Their children have connected so much with an excellent hotel employee named Mr. Ramesh. But the hotel managers not only had no idea what an impact Mr. Ramesh has had for their brand, but didn’t even know who he was.
Imagine if management had realized the power that Ramesh was having for their brand and capitalized on it, instead of being unaware of his impact?
- [0:47] About Etihad Aviation Group
- [28:14] About Jack Jarvis
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