Our Community: What are the three greatest barriers to new leaders emerging in Australia?
Our Community: What advice would you give to a potential leader to take them to the next stage?
Fear is the greatest barrier - fear of rejection, fear of slander, fear of our own potential power - it is hard to turn back once a path is taken. Fear is about losing something - I like the Buddhist teaching of letting go of our grasping, needy natures. There can be a great freedom in pursuing this discipline and realising the more we fear and hold onto the safe zone we are in the more we suffer.
Happiness and leadership power to me is about living lightly and seeking to do good and not being swayed from the simplicity of this way of being.
Our Community: Nature/nurture - are leaders born or bred?
I do think some modelling is necessary as we develop. I also believe that certain temperaments seem to be driven to search and to make a difference. The two must go together in my view - otherwise the latter can build destructive behaviours.
Our Community: What do you consider to be the three top leadership issues facing the nation?
It worries me that there is an emerging complacency in Australia - a cosiness - that means people are reluctant to move outside their comfort zone. I believe this a dangerous zone and one where human travesties can happen and we run the risk of turning a blind eye. This is not a culture that nurtures leaders as they tend to be viewed as irritants that disturb the comfort zone we are all in.
I sense a culture which is less tolerant and more judgemental - this creates a climate of fear, of rejection, of us and them.
Difference and boldness must be valued and nurtured - otherwise it tends to be repressed before it emerges.
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 lonely journey as leadership is inherently about taking the less travelled path. This is not about 'leading the charge'. It is about working with and through others and respecting and listening. The added value of leadership is a capacity to make sense of the trends and to skillfully steer a path which betters the human condition. Loner versus consultative dichotomies are far too simplistic when talking about true leadership.
Being true to ourselves and our vision is fundamental - even if it is a lonely journey.
Living lightly, openly and being happy are essential human qualities that need to underpin the boldness, the skill and the vision of leadership. We're all pretty clumsy players.
Our Community: Who have been your own leadership mentors and how did they assist in developing your own leadership style?
No single person stands out. I tend to be a bower bird that collects something from everyone I meet - sometimes it's a way of viewing, sometimes it's a reminder to review our ethics, our moral compass, sometimes its about the creative process, sometimes its about the skill of diplomacy - so much to learn!
The most important lesson for me is that every interaction teaches us something and keeps us in touch with others.
My parents - with all their foibles - were my strongest mentors. To be loved and believed in provide such solid foundations. These give us a level of personal courage and a sense of place in the world.
Published March 2006