Thoughts about Leadership – a farewell to Tim Reed

Following his last week at MYOB, after 12 years as CEO, we wanted to reflect and thank Tim Reed. He leaves an enduring legacy, having made a positive difference to the lives of many.

Many thousands of people across Australia and New Zealand have been impacted by the work of Tim Reed, but while he is renowned amongst business leaders and the industry, many of those benefiting from his work have never heard his name.

For a man with such a remarkable career to date, this might be surprising. But when you have success, combined with humility, self-control, compassion and strong values, you don’t make the media as often as others.

Last week we said good-bye to a CEO, a friend, a colleague and a leader who meets every criteria of the definition of ‘Leader’.

The definition of ‘Leader’ is simple. Leadership is commonly defined as somebody with the ability to motivate people towards a common goal, however its application is far from easy. Every functioning group requires strong leaders to be successful; in sports teams, armed forces, class rooms or corporates – ‘Leader’ is a highly sought-after title.

Leaders are regarded as so important in driving the success of a group or team, that businesses pay, and people make millions from teaching, training, coaching and researching the notion of what it takes to effectively ‘lead’. Jim Collins, Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, David Marquet, Peter Druker to name a few – endlessly we seek to understand the defining characteristics, behaviours and values of the people we define as effective ‘leaders’.

But some people are born with it. It is in their DNA, it’s authentic, it’s effective, and it is not something they grapple with. They are born to lead. And this is Tim Reed.

What you have in Tim Reed is a man who has the unique balance of IQ and EQ. He stays calm under pressure and who lives by his values each and every day. The commercial reality of running a large technology company requires high intellectual intelligence – Tim led the transformation from MYOB as a desktop accounting software business to a cloud-based SaaS business. When he joined, there were under 100,000 paying users and no online product.  The Company now has over 800,000 subscriptions and is valued at $2B.

The commercial success of MYOB is an impressive achievement for any CEO, but it’s the impact on people, our community and our industry that sets Tim apart from other leaders. Tim has led MYOB through a purpose and belief that is far greater than self.

Tim committed 16 years of his career to impacting the lives of millions, through the single purpose of Helping Businesses Succeed. He understands the importance of small business and the direct impact small business has on our economy, and he reminded and reinforced this to us at every opportunity.

Tim understands the value of his team. He spent the time and effort learning to know the names of almost every one of the 1900 employees at MYOB, not because it came easily to him, but because he knows that this creates greater connections between the CEO and the business. People who care more and work harder are more committed to the company, so this isn’t just ‘nice’, its smart.

Tim taught us that the success of MYOB contributed to the success of many. He also taught us to stand up for what we believe in, and that actions are louder than words. He led by example and was not afraid to take a position on what he believed was ‘right’. Be it marriage equality, small business tax reforms, education, gender equality or diversity – Tim’s impact and the example that he set, was that words are not enough.

Tim didn’t just tell us that gender equality was important. He understood the benefits of diversity, he then studied the topic of gender equality, and he threw himself into it by taking on a role as a Male Champion of Change (MCC). He went around the business to learn from men and women at various stages of their career by listening to their stories. But then, to make a difference, to create change, he developed a tangible plan to address gender equality at MYOB. He set targets, he held us accountable to them, and outside of MYOB, he used his position and voice to educate us:

“Gender diversity is not a women’s issue, and its not going to be solved by half of the population. It’s about men, who are still in positions of privilege, being accountable for gender equity results.”

If I think about what I would want to achieve in the short time I have in this world, it would be to leave a positive impact. You have not only left a positive impact as CEO of one Australia’s most successful technology companies, your leadership impact is enduring, because people have seen and therefore learnt a different way to lead, manage and be.

From the people who know you, and the millions who don’t, but all who have been positively impacted by your time as CEO of MYOB – thank you.

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