A CEO on How to Be The Kind of Leader Your Employees Respect


Bosses command, leaders listen.

Empty workplace at a modern business center.

Even an established, experienced leader can make mistakes, fumble or feel overwhelmed.

“I am… forever evaluating my own performance and addressing any crucial gaps,” says New Age Caravans managing director, Gabby Montagnese. “Great leaders are constantly learning and trying to improve themselves.”

As the 2016 Women in Industry Awards winner for Excellence in Manufacturing, Gabby has had to be a fast learner at the helm of New Age. At barely eight years young, the brand quickly caught the attention of avid road-trippers, launching seven models in their first year alone and becoming one of Australia’s top-10 caravan manufacturers.

As the only female CEO in a male-dominated industry, Gabby has had her fair share of doubters questioning her business savvy. From both peers and customers, her know-how of caravan design (or perceived lack thereof) has come under scrutiny.

“I had to prove to them that I understood the industry, its customers and caravans in order to be heard.”

And exactly that is what she’s achieved – the country’s fastest growing caravan manufacturer and now the second largest producer, New Age continues to break down barriers and buck trends in business and design.

Here are Gabby’s tips for becoming a leader you’d want to be led by:

Like attracts like

I have worked hard to surround myself with positive, like-minded influences at home and at work. This helps to generate a great workplace of employees that all have the common goal of achieving the best results possible.

As the saying goes: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,’ Jim Rohn, self-help author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker.

Stop in

I always strive to be available to my team for whenever they may need my support. Regularly checking in can help the team stay motivated and on course, and can also help to identify whether we need to implement more training and support.

My tip? Leaders listen, bosses command. Let your team know that you’re one of them, not a world apart.

Buddy up

In today’s highly competitive business world, having a mentor can be the difference between success and failure. They can be one of the most valuable resources you can tap into to provide guidance, advice, support, feedback and often a fresh perspective.

My advice? Find a mentor that will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone. They should recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and be able to answer the hard questions.

It’s never too late to delegate

I’ve observed time and time again, new managers or leaders struggling to delegate. I still struggle myself at times. But, if you’re a leader and you don’t know how to delegate effectively, you can severely limit your own career potential. You need to be clear on your strengths and the strengths of each person on your team. Over time, your trust in their abilities will grow and you will continually increase your productivity.

Good, better, best… never rest!

Great leaders are constantly learning and trying to improve themselves. With so many skills to master, keeping your mind open to new ideas and possibilities is critical. At New Age, professional development is very important and we have implemented a number of programs to ensure our employees are always learning and gaining new skills.

Operate from a place of compassion

I think women are naturally more compassionate – I feel this in myself even in situations when I’m dealing with managers. Too often leaders jump to judgement and forget that things aren’t always as they appear. You have to learn to appreciate everyone around you. Trust those you lead and listen.

We would love to hear your thoughts