Pictured: Antony O'Donnell
As part of our monthly segment, Our Community Leaders - Great Australian Leaders in Focus
which features the thoughts of some of Australia's great leaders,
we chat, this month, to Vici Funnel
Vici was the Chief Executive Officer of Scope (formerly the Spastic
Society of Victoria), the Vice Chair of ACROD Victoria and Director
of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association. Vici is also a Rotarian,
an Honorary member of the Harvard Club, Member of the Australian
Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian College
of Health Services Executives. She was awarded a Centenary Medal
in 2001 for services to the community.
Our Community: Who do
you consider to be the three great leaders of our time?
- Mahatma Gandhi - because he showed that major change can be achieved
by using non-violent means.
- Mary Robinson - because she has demonstrated that it is possible
to be a politician and be principled and ethical.
- Nelson Mandela - for his strength of mind, grace under pressure
and visionary leadership.
Our Community: What are the three attributes
you would consider to be essential to a leader?
- Vision - A leader needs to know where they are leading people to
and be able to paint a picture for the followers that will inspire,
engage and challenge them to give of their best.
- Courage - The capacity to face and get past obstacles and disappointments
and to assist the other members of the team to get back up and try
again when things do not go as planned. The courage to stay with the
long view and not go for short term but unsustainable quick wins.
- Integrity - not pig-headedness but the capacity to see and grasp
the real issues and interpret them to those who follow - and the insight
to know and accept the consequences of acting with integrity.
Our Community: What are the three greatest
barriers to new leaders emerging in Australia?
I think this is a profound challenge at present, as many leaders have
their success measured using short-term economic indicators to the exclusion
of any other measures. In the longer term we will realise that this is
unsustainable and is also unsatisfying for the human beings we lead.
So perhaps the barriers are:
- A lack of capacity to come to grips with the complexity of the world
that we operate in so that leadership is judged on inadequate measures.
- Our remoteness and a certain arrogance which can prevent us from
using the learning from great intellectual thinkers and leaders elsewhere
in the world.
- Human frailty in the form of ambition and selfishness.
Our Community: What advice would you
give to a potential leader to take them to the next stage?
What has worked for me has been to create a vision with all stakeholders,
listen and discuss ideas and remember that old saying that perseverance
Our Community: Nature/nurture - are leaders
born or bred?
Probably a bit of both. But good leaders need to have encouragement, good
role models and training to perform at their best.
Our Community: What do you consider to
be the three top leadership issues facing the nation?
- Australia needs to have a strong set of national values, not just
a catch phrase - and then live by them. Short-term thinking and expedient
behaviour by political leaders is unacceptable.
- The adversarial nature of our political and industrial relations
environment stops real examination of key long-term issues and is
slowing or absolutely preventing the reform needed to address social
and environmental challenges.
- The changing world environment and its impact on both Australia
and the rest of the world and our accountability for and response
to this at a local and world level.
Our Community: What insights have you
gained personally on your leadership journey and how have they impacted
on your style of leadership?
It is a great gift to be allowed to lead and to be able to work for a
great cause. Success is the result of the efforts of many people who choose
to bring their great talents together to achieve a goal they believe in.
When people are engaged to work together on something that really excites
them, mountains can be moved.
Our Community: Who have been your own
leadership mentors and how did they assist in developing your own leadership
- My dad, who was a modest but very principled man.
- Some wonderful lecturers at University of New South Wales, when
I studied for my Masters Degree in particular Professor Dexter Dunphy
who helped me to become more aware and reflective.
- Many other people, some of whom I only met through books but many
of whom are friends, including some remarkable, courageous and bright
people that I have come to know since I started to work at Scope
Published February 2006