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Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:42

Leadership Quote 27: The main function of leadership

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Leadership Quote 27

Is the main function of a leader to produce more leaders?

A recent post on LinkedIn questioned this premise - stating that everyone could be a leader if they were a 'thought leader' or if people followed their ideas. My response is that if a function of leadership is to produce more leaders, then one of the actions of leaders is to be able to positively influence others. I think of leadership as a series of levels, each requiring more ffort than the one below it.

1. First lead yourself

2. Influence others

3. Lead others (followers)

4. Develop leaders

5. Develop and grow leaders who grow leaders themselves

All of the levels require a form of leadership. As you make your way from level 1 to 5, the number of people you positively influence greatly increases. Creating more leaders results in more people taking responsibility for their own actions, rather than expecting the leader to make decisions for them.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013 03:36

Leadership Quote 26: The ultimate measure of a man

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This week 50 years ago, Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave one of the most important speeches ever presented. Here is another quote that reminds us of the important of this great leader.

Leadership Quote 26a

Thursday, 22 August 2013 04:10

Is Ashton Kutcher the perfect role-model for young adults?

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I know, I didn't expect to see those words used in the same sentence either! But (Chris) Ashton Kutcher delivered both a surprising and inspiring leadership speech at the Teen Choice Awards that would be the envy of business leaders and leadership experts the world over. Why? Because it was simple, heartfelt, honest and effective. Not only that, it takes an extraordinary effort to cut through the noise of 10,000 screaming fans and deliver a speech for more than 3 minutes without getting a wind-up from producers.

Why do we think this speech was so special and projects Ashton as a role model? Have a look at the video and the review below.



Why we love this video:

1. Honesty. Did you know that Ashton's real first name is Chris? Opening up and explaining this to his fans made him seem more real and authentic. When it comes to leadership, you have to be believable, both in your words and your body language. We are conditioned from an early age to pick up the disconnects between the words and body language / facial cues. It is why politicians often have such bad reputations; the disconnect between what they say and what they do, both before and after an election. Ashton's words and body language matched in front of a live audience, making him seem honest and reliable as someone to listen / look up to.

2. Recognising his team. Early in his speech, Ashton makes it clear that his success is based on the actions of his fans (his team). Good leaders take a little bit more of the criticism, and give their team a little bit more of the credit.

3. Values. The three values of opportunity, being sexy (get past the heading, I will explain shortly) and living life both resonated with his audience and again felt authentic. Each of the values had a story attached to it, that was both insightful and personal. 

4. Opportunity. Ashton states that 'opportunity looks a lot like hard work' explaining the difference between luck and success. In our view, luck is when opportunity and hard work meet. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Ashton holds a similar view, explaining the number of menial jobs he worked before getting his break in Hollywood.

5. Being Sexy. As far as Ashton is concerned, being sexy is about being smart, thoughtful and generous. If we could get more students to view sexiness in those terms (using those principles as a guide), I think we could consider ourselves as successful. In a culture that seems both celebrity / body-image / 'selfie' obsessed, this seems like a pretty positive message to send out to young adults. As Ashton stated 'Smart, Thoughtful, Generous. Everything else is crap that people try to sell you to make you feel less, so don't buy it'.

6. Living life. 'When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and to live your life in that world. Life can be broader than that when you remember one little thing. Everything around us was made up by someone who is no smarter than you (the audience)'. 

Smart, thoughtful, generous, work hard, challenge the status quo and being honest - sounds like a pretty good set of values to promote as a role-model. What are your thoughts? Could you use this video to start a discussion on values-based leadership in your School / Year Group?



sport injuryWhen it comes to training staff, many businesses approach the process similar to older, amateur sportsmen, when in fact they should emulate the sports training of their youth. Let me explain.

My physiotherapist told me several weeks ago 'This is an old man's injury' after tearing my calf muscle after a game of basketball. After questioning my training (and having to get over the fact that I am now old), we discovered that my once a week game, accompanied with no training and hardly any warm-up, was downright dangerous to my health. This is a situation i would never have contemplated as a teenager, with judo and tennis coaches ensuring I practised with their 'no train, no game' credo in mind. I would practise 4 or 5 times a week for a competitive game, irrespective of the competition. My children attend swimming training 5 times a week, with their coach refining their technique and preparing them specifically for different strokes and lengths of competition. They focus on PB's (personal bests) and break up their races into achievable tasks and goals (stroke rates and breathing). Is this like your business training?

Sadly, when it comes to business training, most leaders and managers (like myself) have not become smarter with age.

In an economy with slow growth, rising unemployment and a relatively poor business outlook, training does not seem to be high on the agenda. It is a very short-sighted view.

Training (either formal or informal) and coaching provides employees with the opportunity to try new concepts and ideas, rehearse procedures and behaviours, and perfect skills in preparation for business. Targetted training ensures employees maintain their skills in areas of expertise not often used, rounding their skills and abilities and limiting mistakes due to underuse.

With Australian culture so obsessed with sporting success, we seem to have learnt very little from it to help with business success.

In sport, when you faced with a more difficult league and increased competition, do you increase or reduce the number of training sessions the players / team go through?

My men's basketball team plays weekly and trains annually. Our win / loss ratio is average and the number of injuries the team sustains is high. There is not one member of the team that likes losing, and we all know what we need to do, but it doesn't get done. Our egos and our memories are playing tricks on us - we remember how it used to be. The evidence is clear (poor win / loss ratio and high injuries) and the answers are obvious. If we were either a junior team or an elite professional team the answer would be obvious - make changes, practise more, warm up before play and learn specific set plays that the competition is unprepared for and is suited to our skills.

In business, we face tough competition, pressure on prices and ask our staff to do more with less 'players'. In this environment, what approach do you take to business training - the old, amateur or the elite professional?

The answer you provide may have a much longer effect on your business than you may think. My amateur basketball career was put on hold for 5 weeks while I recovered (I don't think my team missed my skills). Will your business have the same opportunity?

Perhaps it is time for your business to hit the training track if you want to stay in the game and beat the competition.

Friday, 14 June 2013 00:09

The Parliamentary Speech that I Would Love to Hear

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Gillard and AbbottThey say it is better to ‘park’ an emotional blog until you can re-read what you have done and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. Well, I have done that, and I am still angry and annoyed.

This post is a little different from my usual on leadership. It involves current political issues – that I usually steer clear from as it divides people – but at the heart of this post is a request for leadership and values at the highest levels of our country. Being married to a beautiful, intelligent and inspiring woman (who I should listen to more), and trying to raise an intelligent and strong willed daughter (who I don't always fully understand but am trying to) this issue has struck home more and more in the last few days.

Here is the transcript of the speech I would love to hear in parliament this morning from our current Opposition Leader Tony Abbott– but it will never happen. It would take extraordinary guts, determination and a vision for the future that I don’t believe our politicians possess – but I can hope for it anyway. I have no doubt this speech would win him an election – which is not my intention – but it would help right a cause that has become so wrong in this country.


‘Mr Abbott, can you comment on the recent radio interview between the Prime Minister and radio host Howard Sattler?’



“I have time to reflect overnight on the interview that was conducted between the Prime Minister and Mr Sattler, and in all honesty, it has troubled me.

Troubled me because I do not believe that the Prime Minister should have to respond to such garbage – the fact that she did so with such grace and dignity is a credit to her.

The comments troubled me because I have had time to consider several issues regarding gender in the last couple of months, following comments from the Prime Minister in regards to my behaviour and calls of misogyny.

They trouble me because I am married to an intelligent and inspirational woman and I am trying to raise independent and intelligent daughters, and I can’t in good conscience let the behaviour that has been expressed in the media, both mainstream and social, in the election so far, in parliament and in Australia in general continue in the fashion that it has.

I yesterday watched the Chief of Army make an impassioned speech on this issue following revelations of Officers and SNCO’s in the Army allegedly communicating inappropriate comments and pictures via the Defence network. One comment that he made has resonated with me – ‘The standard that you walk past is the standard that you accept’. I feel I have walked past the standard on gender too often in recent times and it is time that I corrected that, not only on my behalf, but on the behalf of my party.

From this day on, the Prime Minister is going to know that she is for the fight of her life to win this election. This battle will be fought on policies and the recent history of achievements of her party – it will not be fought with gender as an issue.

Any member of my party that uses or condones inappropriate behaviour based on gender will be removed from office. Any member vying for office found to condone behaviour that is demeaning or inappropriate to women will lose pre-selection. Any media outlet promoting negative comments or debate based on gender will have no further interviews with any member of my Party until the election. If my party and I are elected, that media outlet will receive no comment or interview for the entire first term of office.

I will not walk past this standard any longer. I serve alongside some amazingly strong and intelligent women, to let this debate continue not only disrespects the Prime Minister, but them as well.

Comments such as ‘Ju-liar’, ‘Ditch the witch’ and others are inappropriate and should never have been used. Comments on the Prime Ministers clothing, size and relationship with her partner have no place in mainstream media, social media or this Parliament. Comments from shock jocks such as Alan Jones suggesting people should be thrown overboard should have been treated for what they were – vulgar and inappropriate. Menus created as a joke should never have been created, and worse, once discovered should never have been promoted. Speculation regarding the Prime Minister’s relationship and treating gossip and innuendo as newsworthy is not only inappropriate and offensive to her, but also to the office she holds.


The office of Prime Minister is one that should be respected, irrespective of gender of the person that holds it.


Earlier this week the Prime Minister referred to the ‘blue tie’ brigade of men that exist in my party, and media articles have stated that if elected, my party will have 50% less female representation than currently exists. I will admit to not having considered this prior to it being raised this week.

In this instance I am not perfect. As a politician striving to become Prime Minister of this country, I realise that the expectation is that I should be. I am far from it – but I am learning now and will continue to learn in my current and possibly future office. I cannot change this statistic in the next six months, but I will make efforts to address it in my first term in office if elected. Women represent more that 50% of the population of this country, it is then logical to assume that in the highest offices in the country, that percentage should at least be comparable.

These are the standards that I now expect of myself, my colleagues and the party. It will be our goal to ensure that those values become reflected in our society. If we as a Government and a nation wish to be respected on the world stage, this behaviour should be common place.

This change will not happen overnight – it may take a generation. But in the same way that laws enforcing the of wearing seatbelts in cars and wearing helmets on bikes seemed radical at the time but have become common place – so should the acceptance of men and women to equal roles. I hope the day comes in the future when my daughters can see a woman elected as Prime Minister and think of it as normal.”


That is what I would love to hear. Leadership, vision, respect, humility, defiance, values and hopefully some honesty. We can live in hope.

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