Q&A: David Joosten, Regional Director Americas, Vodafone

By Kate Birch
David Joosten, Vodafone's Regional Director Americas and Partner Markets discusses what makes a good leader and how leadership has changed in a Covid world

As Regional Director Americas and Partner Markets for Vodafone, David Joosten leads both the Vodafone Business commercial operations in the US, Canada and Latin America and in France, Belux, Nordics, Russia, Austria, Switzerland and the International Public Sector. He leads the management team that spans all functions and is ultimately responsible for ensuring customers are supported and satisfied.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I try to surround myself with the best people I can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy we’ve decided upon is being carried out. I’m pretty hands off but ensure I check in regularly with my team. I set standards very high and hold people accountable. I’m very approachable and appreciate honest and open feedback from every employee. I focus on listening and ensuring people get praised for doing a good job.

What qualities make a great leader?

I believe a leader needs to show candor, integrity, humility and be an active listener across all levels of the organization. They need to be flexible and be fast at adapting to changes. That’s especially true this year, where we had to make fast decisions to adapt to the massive disruption but also had to be consistent and clear in our communications.

How has your leadership style changed over the last year?

Last year, I had to adapt to leading people completely remotely and make fast changes to adapt to the challenges the pandemic brought with regards to supporting our customers and employees.  Communication was critical and ensuring our customers and employees were supported was top of mind. Coming out of the pandemic, I believe I learned how to do this more effectively and collaboratively.

What have been the main challenges and opportunities in leading teams over the last year?

The fact that we had to do everything remotely has been a challenge, and the reality that people had to juggle personal and professional lives at the same time. Keeping people motivated and connected was our main priority and being empathic to their situation. It has allowed us to change how and where we will collaborate with each other in the future. Also, it was an opportunity to rethink our habits and routines and make changes, both professionally and personally. Positive lessons learned include keep listening to people, using all communication tools available. Set time aside to unwind and reflect.

How do you see the role of senior leaders changing in a COVID-19 world?

I believe leaders should really consider how they treat all of their stakeholders — starting with their employees and the whole range of their human needs. There will be real ‘moments that matter’ for their employees that will contribute to the level of attachment (or lack thereof) they will have to the company in the future and to the ability of the company to thrive coming out of the crisis. It is also good to rethink the company’s purpose and what role it wants to play and how it will position itself.

What’s the best piece of leadership advice you’ve even been given?

Listen more than you speak.



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