Neville Norman 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, this month we feature Prof Neville Norman.

Neville Norman

Neville Norman is Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne and a great speaker at the 2005 Communities in Control Conference - where he took an insightful look at economic trends and how they might impact on communities into the future. His speech, and those of others at the conference, can be found by following this link: As well as his impressive credentials in economics, Assoc. Prof. Norman has a range of community connections, among them being a patron of Vision Australia for a number of years, and St Paul's Cathedral Appeal Fund.

Our Community: Who do you consider to be the three great leaders of our time?

Neville Norman:

  1. Pete Estes - CEO GM USA (1977-1981)
  2. (Sir Roderick) Rod Carnegie - CEO CRA 1970s and 80s
  3. (Sir) Alex Broers - Vice-Chancellor, Cambridge Uni (2000-4)
(I would not put one politician in the top 20!)

Our Community: What are the three attributes you would consider to be essential to a leader?

Neville Norman:
  1. Fundamental commitment to one or two objectives that are beyond the capacity of almost everyone to achieve by themselves
  2. Overt demonstration they are prepared to do everything they ask of others (some appear to have this and then fall from grace)
  3. Fundamental love of what they do and people they do it to.

Our Community: What are the three greatest barriers to new leaders emerging in Australia?

Neville Norman:
  1. Pop culture - impressed with froth and bubble, e.g. TV stars
  2. Tall-poppy syndrome - dislike of those already successful, not necessarily in wealth terms, other than in sport
  3. High marginal tax rates at lowish income levels

Our Community: What advice would you give to a potential leader to take them to the next stage? Please feel free to expand.

Neville Norman:

Don't ever relax or give up what you believe in or how to sell it to what can be at times a silly society.

Our Community: Nature/nurture - are leaders born or bred?

Neville Norman:

Seldom ever bred - attempt by "management schools" to create leaders is unconvincing. Sometime it takes a crisis to bring out innate leadership characteristics.

Our Community: Who have been your own leadership mentors and how did they assist in developing your own leadership style?

Neville Norman:

Sir Henry Bolte, Davis McCaughey, Weary Dunlop, Dr John Cheffers, Franz Stamfl (the last two being sporting coaches and inspiring leaders).

Published June 2006