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Mark Oliver | CEO | MarkTwoConsulting

Mark Oliver: Reforming Culture with Resilient Leadership

A modern business is bound to encounter variations because of the changes in operations, and this is an inevitable scenario in the ever-evolving modern industry. Regardless of what the dynamics of any venture brings in, an eminent leader orchestrates through the varying market orientation and perpetuates the outcomes in a positive manner.

Understanding the significance and providing effective outcomes for such scenarios, Mark Oliver, CEO of MarkTwo Consulting, enables organizations and leaders to gain greater engagement from their staff to directly increase and enhance performance, productivity, and profits while surmounting all sorts of challenges.

Mark established the international consultancy—MarkTwo Consulting—in 2002 to provide advanced leadership development and assessment programs, applying the best international organizational psychometric instruments. With MarkTwo Consulting, Mark helps organizations build a leadership culture that increases engagement and productivity.

MarkTwo Consulting is a world-class Leadership Development and Assessment Consultancy whose expertise enables businesses to drive performance through an effective leadership culture at all levels. Mark has a very compelling success story and in an interview with Insights Success, Mark shared with us the excerpts from his journey.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Briefly describe your professional journey up until now.

I qualified with a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University and then studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Royal School of Military Engineering. I began my active military career as a combat and chemical engineer.

My first role was in the UK’s 5 Airborne Brigade, where I was a Jungle Warfare instructor, Helicopter Abseil dispatcher, and Demolitions Officer. I served around the world, in the Falkland Islands, Belize, Cyprus, Germany, Brunei, South Korea, and Hong Kong as part of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers.

After serving for 11 years, I moved into the business world, where I have been for the last 30 years.

What challenges did you face along the way?

I faced the typical fairly extreme challenges that many Army officers face. Leading in remote and physically arduous conditions being quite typical. For me, these included patrolling remote jungle borders in Central America, and operating from trenches in cold and wet conditions.

The type of challenges changed significantly when I moved to my first business role – as an HR manager for a Rio Tinto business unit in Australia. Here I got to experience first-hand the elements of leadership which were the same whether in a military or civilian environment.

I was also diagnosed with life-threatening cancer in 1999 and experienced how dire situations offer the opportunity for greater insights into life more widely.

What significant impact have you brought to the Business Consulting industry?

I am certified in twenty of the world’s best psychometric instruments, and I realized an additional instrument was needed that helped companies motivate and engage their managers and workforce. From further research, the highly innovative and holistic Universal Hierarchy of Motivation (UHM) leadership development tool.

The UHM gives leaders new insights on human intelligence and helps people to enhance their self-awareness and self-leadership in all areas. Recent advances in neuroscience have vindicated the UHM theory have added weight to its conclusions.

This approach is important because the thing that differentiates poor and good leaders, or good and great leaders, is their ability to motivate themselves and to motivate others.

Tell us about MarkTwoConsulting and its foundation pillar.

Through our consulting we help leaders apply practical insights to the leading of themselves and others, so that they can turn disengaged and unproductive staff into high-performing teams.

Developing our leadership means improving ourselves, which means changing ourselves. Since none of us will ever become perfect, there is scope to “grow our leadership” forever or at least until we decide to stop. It is often said: “leadership is a journey.” But where is it to? I now realize it is to the greater serving, saving and coaching of others. In essence it is about becoming more selfless. So, when it comes to leadership; motivation and attitude are much more important than ability.

How does MarkTwoConsulting promote workforce flexibility, and what is your role in it?

In many ways, MarkTwo Consulting had the good fortune to suffer one of the world’s longest lockdowns (here in Melbourne, Australia). This prompted a deep dive into remote and hybrid work and how it can be used across many industries to promote workforce flexibility. We also provide an additional income channel for independent consultants who contract to MarkTwo Consulting.

We specifically do this by training managers in advanced tools which enable them to lead their staff effectively whether they or their staff are in office or working remotely.

What is your take on technology’s importance, and how are you leveraging it?

Technology is critical to our business with staff around Australia and India, and partners in the United Kingdom. We also have adapted to training via Zoom and gradually learnt how to do this to maximize the benefit for the participants. In 2021 I designed and facilitated an intensive two-day leadership course over Zoom for almost 400 managers based in India. The fact that we still had 90% of the managers actively involved by the end of the two-day program was a good measure of its success. As does the fact that we repeated it successfully with another 270 Indian managers in 2022.

What will be the next significant change in the Business Consulting industry, and how are you preparing for it?

As Niels Bohr apparently said: “prediction is very difficult, especially about the future!”

But taking this risk, I think we will see AI provide big advances in high-level and strategic consulting which may decrease staff levels in the organizations providing these services.

Conversely, I think there will be increased numbers of sole operators working as business consultants working at a more tactical level as people opt for roles giving them more flexibility, sometimes perhaps forced to by a changing job market.

What are your goals in the upcoming future?

MarkTwo Consulting’s mission is to develop conscious leadership in individuals and organizations internationally in order to transform the understanding and quality of true leadership globally.

I plan to travel more widely across the region now that the pandemic has quietened down and combine it with technology to help businesses in rapidly developing countries to significantly increase the engagement and productivity of their workforces in culturally appropriate ways through the power of motivational leadership.

What advice would you like to give the next generation of aspiring business leaders?

Perhaps I would give three short bits of advice: Firstly, know that leadership is bred not born.

Secondly, develop your self-awareness and find out which of the four intelligences (out of IQ, EQ, Spiritual Intelligence, and Physical Intelligence) you are naturally high in, and which two you are low in. Then work to make sure neither of the lower ones is a derailer for you in your work and life.

Thirdly, appreciate that expertise is important but that there are two mistakes when dealing with experts. One is to ignore them, and the other is to believe them blindly. Life should be balanced.