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#67—Kirstin Ferguson: Eight Traits to Mastering the Art of the Modern Leader

#67—Kirstin Ferguson: Eight Traits to Mastering the Art of the Modern Leader

As an award-winning and globally recognised leader, executive coach, company director, writer and speaker, Kirstin Ferguson is one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts.

Kirstin is also making a global impact, with UK-based Thinkers50 naming her one of the world’s top 30 “Thinkers to Watch” and she was shortlisted for the Distinguished Award in Leadership in 2021.

Kirstin’s career includes over a decade of experience on a range of company boards, including a previous appointment by the Australian Prime Minister as Acting Chair and Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Kirstin currently sits on the boards of two technology companies. Kirstin has previously been the CEO of a global consulting company, a senior executive at a leading corporate law firm, and spent nearly 10 years as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Kirstin’s second book, Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership has been described as an “indispensable companion for every leader” and “the book we need right now.” A passionate advocate for women, diversity, and inclusion, Kirstin was responsible for sparking a viral social media campaign called #CelebratingWomen, and is the co-author of award-winning book, Women Kind.

Kirstin writes a popular weekly column for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age called Got a Minute? answering the nation’s work, leadership, and culture questions.

In this podcast, she shares:

  • Why great strategy begins with what she calls reading the room

  • What her research shows are the eight key attributes of an effective leader

  • Why being the smartest person in the room can often backfire

  • Many other practical advice for becoming an effective leader



-Kirstin Ferguson


Episode Timeline:

00:00—Introducing Kirstin + The topic of today’s episode

2:20—If you really know me, you know that...

3:09—What is your definition of strategy?

4:47—What got you interested in strategy?

5:40—How can people at every level become leaders?

7:06—Could you explain why you titled your new book "the head and heart"?

9:16—Could you break down the eight attributes of "head and heart" leaders?

11:39—What does it look like to have too much empathy?

12:55—What is your perspective on having confidence vs. humility when it comes to strategic decision-making?

15:29—Having experienced both military and business realms, how has that shaped your perspective?

19:49—How do you help people who don't feel ready to "step up" feel comfortable taking on a leadership role?

21:48—What is the importance or cost of good leadership?

23:15—How can people continue to learn from you and follow you?


Additional Resources:

Personal Page:



Head and Heart website:


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The Outthinkers podcast is a growth strategy podcast hosted by Kaihan Krippendorff. Each week, Kaihan talks with forward-looking strategists and innovators that are challenging the status quo, leading the future of business, and shaping our world.