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Good Business Leaders and Reported Speech

These materials look at the concept of what makes a good business leader. I've taken a video interview with Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups as the basis of the materials. I have also provided some guidance on using Reported Speech below.


Before watching the video, think about the following questions;

  1. What do you think makes a good leader?

  2. Can you think of an example where you worked with a particularly good leader? Why were they good|?

Then watch the video and think about the answers that Doug gives to the following questions; a full transcript of the video is published underneath.

  1. What makes a good business leader?

  2. What are the are the top attributes of a good business leader?

  3. How have business leaders attributes changed over time?

  4. Who do you admire most as a business leader?

  5. What is the key success of your business today?

  6. What advice would you give to people who want to be entrepreneurs?

Vocabulary: Remember that when we are repeating what someone else has said that we often use the 'one step' back rule in reported speech. That is, whenever someone uses the Past Simple, we repeat it in reported speech using the Past Perfect: for example;

  • "The primary aim of school when I started was as a teaching enterprise". (Past Simple).

  • He said that, The primary aim of school when he started had been as a teaching enterprise. (Past Perfect).

Notice that in the second sentence we start "he said".... other reporting verbs that would also trigger the Past Perfect are claimed that, stated that, alleged that...


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The Transcript


What makes a good business leader?

The primary aim of school when I started was as a teaching enterprise. We thought of ourselves as people who teach because the gap I saw in the market and the need I saw unfulfilled was that a lot of people start businesses without the requisite knowledge.


I strongly believe that most people if they want to be can be entrepreneurs and furthermore that there's a great deal that they can learn that is not taught.


What are the are the top attributes of a good business leader?

I think there are traits that make people successful leaders but I think leaders are not necessarily managers and managers are not necessarily leaders they're not interchangeable. We don't get to choose to be leaders we are leaders because people choose to follow us. Therefore the real question is is why do people follow them and it's been my experience people follow someone because they believe in them. They believe in their vision and they believe in their capacity to execute upon that vision. It is belief so what makes a great leader? A great leader is somebody who can in fact have a great idea and more importantly communicate and share that an idea in a way to make others want to follow.


How have business leaders attributes changed over time?

If you look at a long enough period, say post-world War two now, the requirement that people choose to follow somebody has become more and more important as work life has changed, it's much more fluid we have much more liquid marketplaces/ People do not have job security which means they have an obligation to own their own careers which means they have the right to make choices and those

things mean they get to vote for whom they follow.


Whereas 50 years ago wasn't the case so this is becoming more and more important as a leadership quality and so I think it's changed tremendously and I don't think we're done I think it's actually going to become actually even more of the case.


Who do you admire most as a business leader?

Probably the person that most quickly springs to mind is Elon Musk. I have lots of time for elements they don't know Elon Musk and I'm confident he doesn't know me but I love the scope of his ambitions I love

the fact that he is completely unafraid to lay out visions that are so far outside the current dialog - that he renormalizes the dialogue he moves the whole conversation to a different place because he is so clearly assertively ambitious and he's had so much success and he invests right to the hilt every time. What's not to admire?


What is the key success of your business today?

I think there's only two or three key things that call out the first is I work with a small group of people I do not work alone, I'm not somebody who sits on top, I both like working with a small team of people around me as colleagues not as employees and I'm much more successful. My extremely bad ideas get

muted my extremely good ideas get celebrated, other people's very good ideas are now participants in the conversation and I am as lopsided as everyone else, and I need to be offset by other people with rather different qualities so that is absolutely number one. Number two; everybody knows who's the

boss you don't need to turn it into some sort of totemic symbolic thing therefore you don't need a big fat office you don't need to be isolated in the corner, all you're doing is removing yourself from the daily hubbub of your own business.


What advice would you give to people who want to be entrepreneurs?

I would say despite all the evidence to the contrary, all around them, the best way to become successful is to pay your dues, you have to go work for other people to understand how to work for yourself. I do not believe that somebody should wake up one morning at 18 or at 21 or 22 with no life experience and

simply go say I'm going to be an entrepreneur. Yes there are success stories all around us but they are still a fraction of a fraction we celebrate them so much we ignore the fact that the vast majority of successful entrepreneurs have worked for others.


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