As I get to the end of writing my book SIMPLIFIED: Leadership Is Simple. You Lead People., I have been reflecting on some of the people who helped me become who I am today. Who are the inspirations in my journey to lead different?

Some of the most amazing leaders in the world today, probably have never been heard of other than by a few people. One of those leaders is John McGinniss. John is the one person I credit for inspiring me to be the leader I am today. The one who unknowingly embedded the foundations for which my core philosophies and attitudes towards leading are built. John McGinniss was the first leader to believe in me and the first leader I believed in.

Last night I got a call from John. I had been seeking to track him down as we hadn’t chatted in over 2 years! I wanted to personally thank him and share with him the impact he had on my life and to let him know how his belief and influence made a difference.

Sometimes you never realise the impact or influence you have on another persons life. I wanted him to know even though it was 20 years later that our time together, his belief in me, mattered. He deserved to know.

My hope is that all of you find your own John McGinniss or become the John McGinniss for someone else – Dave Clare

We had a great chat. I was barely able to read out to him this excerpt from my book, as I was overcome with emotion. I wanted him to hear it from me personally.


(Excerpt from SIMPLIFIED – Leadership Is Simple. You Lead People: by Dave Clare)

It was at the old Perth Entertainment Centre in 1994. That’s when it all began for me, my introduction into what would be my addiction to leadership.

As I remember it, I was there for the big launch of the newly branded Bankwest (formerly R&I Bank of WA). There I was with hundreds (maybe a thousand, I wasn’t counting) of other fellow bankers. Bright lights were flashing like a rock concert. High energy music was pumping! You could feel the excitement like an electrical current. There was a crescendo of emotions ending in a climactic arena full of bankers singing in unison. It was like a really bad karaoke crowd singing to the Pet Shop Boys tune of “Go West”! Amongst the pomp and circumstance of such a launch we were all to be captivated at the new look logo and colours. The fashionable new wardrobe show was happening simultaneously. I was so amped, but then again I am an excitable and enthusiastic guy by nature.

Then, on the big screen it was there…a powerful statement for the future of Bankwest. It hit me like a beacon of hope, like seeing a lighthouse through the fog on a stormy night for the first time. My first real insight into a mission statement:

“We are astrong, results driven bank, dedicated to the people of Western Australia, with a deep commitment to deliver superior service through skilled staff working as a team”

NB: I’m pretty confident it was fairly close to this exact statement since I wrote this from memory! We’ll talk about that as a concept a little later. If I forget remind me, please!

I gotta admit I wasn’t fancied on the scroll-ish looking orange ‘W’ as a logo. That aside and perhaps due to the intensity of the emotionally charged evening, I was hooked. I actually felt inspired to be a part of this organization that clearly now had a sense of mission.

You see, it wasn’t too much before this event that I nearly got fired from the same organization. Under its previous name and leadership, I apparently cared too much for my customers. I spent too much time with them. I didn’t conduct enough transactions (be careful what you measure! You get the behaviour you reward. Quantity vs. Quality). To see those new words like dedicateddeep commitment to deliver superior service and working as a team were like music to my ears!

The changes were rapid and reflective of the mission statement. You could see that there was intent and decisions made in line with this vision. Superior service? Yep! Newly appointed Customer Service Managers with not-negotiable ground rules for customer service were created. There was a new organizational structure…an example of mission in action! There were many more, but I knew I actually had something to believe in, it was really happening.

Some people come into your life and initially you don’t know why? Enter my first real mentor (outside of my Dad) and the one leader I credit with inspiring me to be more, do more and give more. He was Mr. John McGinniss, my Regional Manager. At first I didn’t know how to take John. He invaded my personal space. He made me uncomfortable and was commanding in his approach to business. Yet for some reason I was compelled by his continued challenging of my then limiting beliefs.

John was such a great mentor to me and still is to this day. He is a great friend, not just because he saw more in me than I saw in myself. John gave me greater responsibility. I received extra personal development training (The Pacific Institute – Investment In Excellence) outside of traditional banking training regimes. As mentioned, we also established our five “not negotiable” ground rules for superior service (my first insight into living core values). I was not only held to account to these, but empowered to make decisions in line with them. I knew without a doubt, I actually had found someone who believed in me, Dave Clare, not just Dave the bank johnny.

John was relentless in his pursuit for us to fulfil all aspects of the banks mission. He was persistence in challenging me. He invested in me. John would continually push me out of my comfort zone. All to ensure I became who I was capable of being as a leader. All this led me to know I had someone to believe in too.

When I look back now, I see those things. Back then though, I only felt those things. I never really understood how important they were in my leadership journey at the time. Needless to say, we went on to create some magic together with the rest of the leadership team. We achieved tremendous results we could be proud of for our customers, our team and the bank.

I’m not sure if I ever told you personally, but thank you John. You set me on the path to understanding purpose-driven leadership even though both of us may not have realized it at the time. Sincerely, Dave


Dave Clare, Prophet for Purpose

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