Fiona Blayney: the art of responsible leadership

There are many different styles of leadership and leaders often naturally align with one or another. But, as Fiona Blayney recently discovered over lunch with a friend, responsible leadership offers a holistic approach encompassing your team, your business and your community.

I recently met a friend for lunch, and what we discussed resonated with me long after I digested the delicious poke bowl I ordered.

My friend George has not long bought out his business partner, and, it’s safe to say, it wasn’t a cheap purchase.

But despite the heavy debt, George is perfectly at peace with his decision. He’s got a plan and he’s executing it step by step.

How is George so calm? So resolute?

George is what we call a responsible leader.

He’s strong in the face of fear, considers each decision, and holds firm on his values, but he also isn’t afraid to take on new ideas.

A responsible leader thinks not just of the financial impact of paving the road ahead but of the effect their choices have on others and the world around them.

Since that lunch, I’ve been reflecting on George and responsible leadership, and I thought I’d let you inside the mind of this style of leadership, including what a responsible leader questions about their abilities and how to create longevity.

A responsible leader considers their business within society

A business exists to provide products and services to society, and as a leader, we add to that the need to build and provide profit.

Yet, our team reflects society and often wants to be part of a workplace with a positive social impact. If all other things are equal, clients are also likely to look to businesses that stand for more than just profit.

The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘How will I, as a leader, consider and drive positive social impact within my business?’ 

Leading remote and hybrid teams 

According to Gallup, the upward trend in actual and desired remote work continued this year, and 60 per cent of employees want a long-term hybrid work arrangement.

Traditionally, real estate leaders have been face-to-face with their troops. Revitalising your leadership style, tools and methods of engagement will be paramount to ensuring your troops are aligned with and committed to achieving the overarching business goals.

True leaders can also adapt their leadership style to get the best out of each team member. There’s no one size fits all.

The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘How can I devise and foster cohesive, engaging, hybrid teams in their current and future form?  

Leading a new generation  

I’ll let you in on a secret, I’ve hit the ripe, young age of 46, and everywhere I look, there’s a younger, improved version of myself.

My jokes about the ’90s fall flat on people that were not even alive, let alone know who Punky Brewster is (Google her).

My thinking is being challenged and I am being questioned, why, why, why?

But unlike a toddler having a tantrum or a petulant teen, the questions and challenges come from those that want to learn and do better. So I embrace it.

There are multiple questions to ask yourself this time.

  • How can I create space for new ideas, new thinking and trialling of initiatives?
  • How can I encourage discussion and questioning?
  • How can I ensure there is an opportunity for the next big, or small idea to come from within the ranks? 
  • How do I get out of the way and serve my team as their leader?  

The authentic leader

In the 90s, lunch would have been long and boozy, but my meal with George was timed perfectly for the parking metre, school pickup and the next meeting.

The boss would have been full of bravado, never wrong, suited and booted. Back then, other than anger, emotion was only for at home.

But responsible leaders bring their whole self, emotional intelligence and a keen sense of empathy balanced with self-awareness. 

The question you need to ask yourself are:

  • How would my team measure my authenticity?
  • Where is the line to oversharing, friendship and responsibility and do I cross it? 
  • Is improving my EQ, and that of those around me, high enough on our radar?

As businesses, teams and society change and grow, it’s important that leaders do the same.

Responsible leadership allows you to do that in a way that remains true to your values while supporting your team and accepting new ideas with the big picture in mind.

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit