TMM103 James Hunter Leadership Mojo©

adulting authenticity james hunter kpmg leadership mojo performance profit success vitality coact tv Jun 03, 2019


In episode 103 Leadership Mojo© - I talk with James Hunter, National Managing Partner at KPMG Australia, on the power of authentic leadership.

Why it requires accountability, shared intent and transformation from the top-down.

James' extensive leadership experience spans both corporate and military. With 15 years’ experience in a diverse range of corporate leadership roles in Professional Services in Australia, regionally and globally.

James joined the Navy straight out of school. After leaving the Navy, he taught at Shore Sydney Church of England Grammar School. As Assistant Housemaster, and later Housemaster, he studied for his MBA.

Six years later, with his MBA behind his name, James entered the corporate world.

Over the last decade his focus has been working closely with companies across a range of sectors to deliver large, complex transformation and customer/digital/cultural reform programs in Australia as well as North America, the UK and Europe, and across SE and Northern Asia.

Trust is rooted in integrity and shared intent of the outcome you want to achieve. 

James Hunter

I asked James about his style of leadership and what we truly need to pay attention to as we build companies with sustainable success and values that matter:

1. Authentic Leadership

Leadership is constantly evolving, but at its heart is authenticity. Which means walking the talk and ensuring as a leader you continue to evolve and honour your values through all areas of life - this includes home as well as work.

Leaders are accountable for the outcomes but can only do that if they can trust the people they work with. Authenticity ensures consistency in behaviour and in the end the valuable asset of trust. This trust is rooted in integrity and shared intent of the outcome you want to achieve. 

You can’t lead through formal structures. Authentic leadership is about leading one-on-one. You lead by example, and your example is replicated. 

Checking in on trust and shared intent - at all stages of growth and any size of business is crucial.

2. Leadership Mojo is Shared intent

Successful businesses often fail when they get to a certain size. That’s because entrepreneurs don’t realise the importance of surrounding themselves with people that they need to empower to be successful and own the success. There is a gap where shared intent should be.  

If you want employees to take ownership and accept accountability, you need a shared intent on the outcomes right from the start. 

  • Great leaders foster shared intent by surrounding themselves with key people who have the skills they themselves lack.

  • The gap is bridged when leaders are willing to learn from these key people, who, in turn, learn from the leader.

This is when people change the way they operate, and true integration happens. The result? Outcomes that are not merely good, but great.  

3. Leadership Mojo is Closing the loop

When you can share a vision and intent, and empower the people you work with, success is measured by the feedback that the process has been transformational. But empowerment is built on trust and looping back.

  • If you want people to trust you, then you need to create a safe environment and be available for open discussion.
  • Ensure there is a loop back on what has been asked, delegated or envisioned and then the environment to follow through, review and refine.

4. Leadership & Top-down transformation

In an organisation as culturally diverse as theirs, KPMG understand that the culture will keep evolving, without becoming a mishmash of the different cultural groups.  This is why mentoring, coaching and sponsorship is crucial.  

I schedule time every day to talk to staff, and we engage deeply on work and personal issues. 

Trust and shared intent is built by engaging with people face-to-face, which is possible even in an organisation like KPMG that employs 190,000 people. That can only work when employees and customers are placed at the centre of every decision. 

5. Leadership Values

James states at KMPG "We don’t have a rule book". They are guided by values that are embodied by all staff members at all levels. They understand their roles as leaders and the difference they can make. Each one has a duty of care to demonstrate our vision and our values.  

Many organisations invest in purpose statements that are put on wall posters. We typically find that what is written on a wall is not instilled, and people don’t abide by those values.

So what happens when there is discord with values?

When this happens, direct discussion is necessary – by anybody in the organisation. If the values are not adopted this is something that goes hand in hand with performance and like any relationship needs to be aligned.

  • Measuring and checking in on values connection is a definitive role requirement for the fit and success of any individual inside an organisation.
  • Don't force what does not innately feet - it will not work for the company and it won't work for the individual either. Be clear from the outset.

Leadership Advice is top down and integrated by working with peers and always communicating.

  • Especially at senior positions - a trusted peer group is essential for productivity, growth and limiting risk commercially and personally.

Your pit crew: When you have concerns, start at the top; talk to the chairperson of the board, or peers. Find people with integrity with whom you have built up trust, and who keep confidentiality. We all need those people in our lives. 

Key take aways on leadership Mojo with James

1. Authenticity is at the heart of leadership. 

2. Great leaders foster shared intent and lead by example. 

3. Accountability stems from empowerment, 

4. Rules don’t build community, shared values do. 

5. Good leadership is built on trusting relationships and follow through at all levels.

Finding Your Leadership Mojo©

My challenge to you if you're reading this and listened to this interview, is to ensure you are consciously leading. Don't just stop when you get to the top.

Get off autopilot. Be open and engaged to grow, share and have purpose in all you do. No matter what stage of your leadership journey.

Ultimately we all have a chance to create a ripple effect within organisations - regardless of size or industry. This directly shapes our community, family interactions and the culture we thrive in at home and work.


Continuing to evolve productive, transparent and leadership with clear intent, active values and trust fosters long term profit - by creating engaged, empowered and valued staff at all levels who are proud to belong to a culture that matters.

As a leader always ask yourself how you can connect with your own best self, work with your inner circle on growth and radiate trust and vision with your staff.

The results are magic but they require consistency and commitment to shared success.

Thanks for tuning in and as always - we must be the CEO of our business as well as our life. Healthy, wealthy and wise.


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James Hunter Bio



National Managing Partner at KPMG Australia | Chairman of Council at Pymble Ladies' College | White Ribbon Ambassador

James is an Australian KPMG Partner with corporate experience across Defence, Education, Construction, Industrial Markets, Energy & Utilities and 15 years in a diverse range of leadership roles in Professional Services in Australia, regionally and globally.

James' focus over the last decade has been working closely with companies across all sectors to deliver large, complex transformation and customer / digital / cultural reform programs in Australia as well as North America, UK & Europe and across SE and Northern Asia.

In July 2013 James joined KPMG's National Executive Team as National Managing Partner, Markets & Growth, and is part of the KPMG Global Markets Executive. In this role, James has responsibility for all 18 sectors, Australian accounts, Alliance partners and the major client programs. James works with KPMG’s Global leadership, Global and National Lead Partners, Sector Leaders, Divisional and Alliance leaders to help our leading Audit, Assurance & Risk, Deals Tax & Legal, Management Consulting and Enterprise businesses provide the best client outcomes and create clients for life. James has overall responsibility for KPMG’s clients and markets and strategic growth of the Firm, as well as Asian and International corridors.

The KPMG Global and Australian Strategy defines a 3 year growth focus which includes specific strategies and initiatives to bring the best of KPMG to our clients, who are at the centre of our Firm’s strategy. KPMG brings global thinking and insights and the best capability from across our 190,000+ global network and wider global alliance network. KPMG’s strong client focus brings in turn an ability to invest, grow and accelerate our Firm’s sustainable leadership position in Australia, and to attract and retain the top talent from across Australia and wider.

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