Tony started at Mullane Plumbing as a fifteen-year-old boy. His Dad was a plumber and Tony’s first boss was Geoff O’Brien. “Geoff was the hardest, toughest man I ever met. The epitome of tough but fair”. Due to the sudden death of Frank Mullane, the Company’s founder, a younger generation, including Tony stepped up to take on leadership roles. Originally trying to be Geoff O’Brien the ‘hard nut’ within twelve months three of Mullane’s best people had had enough of this style of leadership and left.
A few years later Tony was confronted by a promising young plumber who tearfully informed him he wasn’t just leaving the company but quitting the industry all together, once again thanks to Tony and his style of leadership. For Tony that was the turning point and a realisation that as an effective leader he had to be himself. “The most valuable thing anyone can have is a good knowledge of themselves, to know who you are, and to know that at any given time that’s good enough.”
Tony had always been a natural leader, at school, on the sporting field, and happy to be in the driver’s seat. “I think what I’ve learned is that it’s a lot more fun to sit with other people while they’ve got their L’s on and actually let them take the wheel. It’s quite fulfilling”.
With more than 260 people in the field at any one time, covering a territory from Macksville in the North, Muswellbrook/Scone in the West and Gosford in the South (a massive area) Tony doesn’t need to know where his large team is, just that they are doing a fantastic job. These days Tony is not influencing directly any of Mullane’s projects (100 at any time), his role is to share his vast knowledge if and when it’s called for.
The Four Point Tenant:
- Does someone genuinely care about me?
It can’t be Tony, but as with the military “guys and girls won’t jump out of the trench and run into bullets for the colonel, but they will for the sergeant, who lives with them, breathes with them, sleeps with them. Each team has somebody who genuinely cares for each other.”
- Do I know what’s expected of me?
“Hugely important that anybody who gets out of bed in the morning knows what the aim is. How do I know if I’ve had a good or a bad day? I meet my goals.”
- Do I have the skills, knowledge, experience and tools to do my job safely and well?
“If you can’t say yes to that question you’ve got problems as well because you’re going to get frustrated. It’s also about putting people in the right positions.”
- Do I know where we are going?
“As a team what’s our why, our purpose, why do we do this?”
At Mullane’s there’s also a strong focus on giving with no expectations of receiving. This long-held belief continues to permeate through the business. When it comes to the business end of the business, however, Tony believes that it’s the process that needs to be the quiet superstar. “The bottom line will look after itself if the processes are sound and well managed, but fundamentally if the people are engaged and aware, you’ll just get a better performance”.
To listen to the full conversation and some more great insights from Tony, head to wellbeingsandco.com.au/podcast