"I was trying to be everyone I’d ever worked for"

The leaders that made me: Xavier Rees believed you had to act a certain way if you wanted to become MD.

by Stephen Jones

Authenticity remains one of the more underrated leadership qualities. The view that in order to be successful managers have to be domineering, command-and-control alpha-male types is still all too prevalent. 

For a long time, it’s what Havas London and Havas helia CEO Xavier Rees thought. He’d always harboured ambitions to be an MD, but the archetype he saw among many of the leaders in the ad industry as he was coming up was at odds with the type of leader he was comfortable being. 

It held him back for the early part of his career, until a single conversation following a botched presentation changed everything. 

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