iGaming CEOs stress soft skills will make the leaders of the future

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Microgaming and Eyas bosses have explained why “humility”, “empathy” and “adaptability” will be the characteristics most sought after in the gaming leaders of the future.

Speaking in the opening session of iGaming NEXT Online: Bright Future this morning, Eyas Gaming CEO Michael Brady said leadership roles should be taken on with “a great deal of confidence but also with a great deal of humility”.

Quipping that he was on his fourth stint as a CEO, “because I’m still working out how to do it”, Brady said that, although many people believe leadership is about power, he believes “it’s about giving away power”.

“In my experience, so much of it has been about the soft skills”, he said, adding that being able to empathise with a team was a huge benefit when trying to lead them.

The discussion was part of the Ask Me Anything – A CEO Insight panel, which kicked off day one of two days of industry insight.

Agreeing with Brady, Microgaming CEO John Coleman added that “Empathy doesn’t come naturally to me, but something happened to me in my personal life and instantly my empathy levels changed and that was the flick of a switch that I think helped me to become a better leader”.

Coleman also highlighted the importance of humility, adding later in the discussion: “A key mantra for me is humility… you sit in a room and as soon as you think you’re the most important person in that room, you’ve lost the room.”

Panel moderator Per Hellberg, CEO of PlayStar Casino, raised accountability as one of the most critical characteristics for aspiring leaders.

“For me, the key thing has always been accountability – you stand up, you stay accountable”, he said. Adding that all leaders have times when they miss targets but being able to recognise why that happened and take responsibility for it is critical to moving forward.

Discussing their experiences in light of the pandemic, the panel agreed that “adaptability” was also going to become an increasingly important part of what makes thriving leaders and teams in the future.

Recalling the first weeks of the pandemic last year, Hellberg said: “I remember the strange feeling of sending home a wonderful team that really didn’t want to be at home… but what struck me very quickly was how adaptable people are.”

However, Brady pointed out that the igaming industry is fast moving even without the added pressure of a pandemic, so being able to respond has always been important and will only become more so.

“I sense we are moving into a world where there is more uncertainty”, he said, adding that he believes future leaders need to show “adaptability, and the ability to maintain an open mind”.

A perennial issue across all industries is diversity, both of background and thought and all three CEOs agreed this remained a high priority when they were building teams.

Brady said he is inclined to separate diversity and identity. “I don’t think identity is relevant, I think it’s about diversity of talent – the secret source in an organisation is the original thinkers”, he explained.

“To me, it’s the guys who come in and see the world a bit differently… the ‘younger eyes see clearer’ thing is something I massively subscribe to”, he added.

Coleman agreed but added that, as leaders, he feels there is a responsibility to enact change where possible. “Seventeen years ago, this industry was very male dominated, we know that, and in some areas, it still is”, he said, adding that Microgaming has worked hard to address that.

He said the leadership team was currently 45 per cent female, 55 per cent male, which is a “step in the right direction, but there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be 50/50”.

He also explained that there are cultural bias’s that need addressing to improve gender diversity. “Men get promoted on potential, women get promoted on experience’, he said. “I think there is some unconscious bias that we need to be aware of and make sure we don’t fall into those traps as well.”

You can watch the session with John Coleman (CEO, Microgaming), Michael Brady (CEO, Eyas Gaming) and Per Hellberg (CEO, PlayStar Casino) on igamingnext.tv.

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iGaming NEXT

A content-driven company focused on delivering news, data and insights via in-person and online events. We bring the best keynote speakers to the forefront over panel discussions and fireside chats to discuss iGaming, investment, technology and more.

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