10 Leadership Lessons From Australia’s Wealthiest Man – Andrew Forrest

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

Andrew Forrest, Chief Executive of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) (Pictured with GMA President Paul McCann, GMA Vice President Thomas Murrell and GMA Councillor Phillip Hirschberg) has been named one of Australia’s richest men.

Based on his experiences creating two major Australian resource houses from scratch, now major suppliers of nickel, cobalt and iron ore to the world’s steel industries, he told 30 guests to a Graduate Management Association Up Close and Personal lunch at the University Club of his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Growing up jackerooing on sheep and cattle stations before graduating from the University of Western Australia with an Economics Degree, he raised $4 billion to fund and oversee the implementation, project construction and commissioning in record time of a world-scale port, railway lines and iron ore mines in the Pilbara in Western Australia’s North West.

As the corporate MC of the event in Perth, I was able to observe firsthand his critical success factors in growing the company from start-up to major powerhouse.
Here are 10 leadership lessons from Australia’s wealthiest man.

1. Set a Vision

A strong clear vision is critical for any company. For Fortescue it was to be the New Force in Iron Ore.

Simple, strong and compelling.

He was equally enthusiastic about having a vision bigger than you would expect to achieve and work backwards to achieve it. A case study of having Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs).

2. Create A Strong Culture

Creating a positive and motivated workforce is essential for any organisation.
Forrest has been dedicated to developing other leaders built from empowerment and encouragement.

He believes it is not about the CEO or the Leader of the company but the people who grow and build the business.

This was especially important for a challenger brand and company such as Fortescue.

3. Never Give Up

Great advice, especially when faced with setbacks and adversity.

4. Eliminate Waste

Forrest is big on using innovation to drive efficiencies and ways of working smarter and more productively.

5. Focus on Deliverables

Forrest is not big on red tape and the bureaucracy of Government.

He believes success is all about delivering outcomes.

6. Seek Offshore Capital

Forrest believes the competition amongst institutional investors in offshore markets such as the US and Europe makes raising capital for early stage ventures easier than in Australia.

7. Understand Your Customers

Forrest highlighted the importance of getting to know your customers, in his case Chinese steel mill operators who are the buyers of FMG’s iron ore.

8. Give Back Forrest is a big believer in giving back to the community and his latest cause is Generation One which aims to employ more indigenous Australians.

9. Invest in Training and Education

Forrest believes education and training are critical for the success of any organisation.

Again using the big vision (BHAG) of providing “jobs” and “work”, the community and family have something to look towards.

Education and training alone won’t necessarily fulfil the void but these strategies combined with the vision of something to gain (ie jobs and a future) are really important according to Forrest.

10. Have Faith

Forrest is a spiritual man and relies on his Christian faith to make the right decisions within a business context.

Thomas Murrell – Tel: +618 9388 6888 - is an international business speaker, author and Managing Director of 8M Media & Communications. Understanding Influence For Leaders At All Levels released by McGraw-Hill (co-author, 2006) is his latest book. You can sign up for his free eZine Media Motivators read by 8,000 professionals in 36 different countries and book Tom as a conference speaker or corporate MC by visiting Tom’s website.

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