Ian Kiernan AO 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 a community leader who is known to many organisations and schools around Australia who these days take part in the annual Clean Up Australia Day. It is of course the founder and chairman of Clean Up Australia Day, Mr Ian Kiernan AO.

Ian Kiernan AO

Ian Bruce Kiernan was born near the shores of Sydney Harbour, Australia, in 1940 and went onto become a builder and passionate yachtsman who sailed competitively for more than 40 years, representing Australia at the Admiral's, Southern Cross, Dunhill, Clipper, Kenwood and Trans Pacific Cup competitions.  Appalled by the amount of rubbish choking the world's oceans he and a committee of friends st up the first Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day on Sunday 8 January 1989 - an event that resulted in 40,000 volunteers turning out to help out and sparked national interest to expand the event. More than seven million people have now taken part in the annual "Clean Up" events which have since gone international and now see more than 40 million people in 120 countries taking part. .

Ian is chairman of  Clean Up Australia Day and also chairs the CRC for Waste Management and Pollution Control Limited plus the Enviro-Finance Association of Australia, is Deputy Chair of the NSW Government's Expert Water Advisory Panel, is a Director of CVC Reef Limited and is a member of the Barton Grou and patron of Sailors with Disabilities and of the Lord Howe Island Public School, 600km North-West of Sydney.

We started by asking Ian who he considered to be the three greatest leaders of our time? And why?

Ian Kiernan:

  • Martin Luther King - Human Rights
  • Nelson Mandela - Human Rights
  • Winston Churchill - WWI and WWII Leadership and Peace
Our Community: What are the three attributes you would consider to be essential to a leader? And why?

Ian Kiernan:
  • Lead from the front - Australian's generally don't like being told what to do, but given leadership they amaze you.
  • Communicate at all levels - do good things and tell the community
  • Be a team player - this way you belong to those you lead
Our Community: What are the greatest barriers to new leaders emerging in Australia?

Ian Kiernan:    
  • Low quality of politicians
  • Lack of reward for a demanding career
  • Impact on family
Our Community: What advice would you give to a potential leader to take them to the next stage?

Ian Kiernan:    
  • Set high goals
  • Mark your selected milestones as you achieve them
  • Be a person of the people
Our Community: Nature/nurture - are leaders born or bred?

Ian Kiernan:    Both

Our Community: What do you consider to be the three top leadership issues facing the nation?

Ian Kiernan:    
  • Land and water management
  • Aboriginal issues
  • Global Warming, Security
Our Community: What insights have you gained personally on your leadership journey?

Ian Kiernan:    
  • Incentive and disincentive are great tools
  • That politicians generally lack long term vision
  • That businesses need to partner the not for profit sector with mutual benefits
Our Community: Who have been your own leadership mentors and how did they assist in developing your own leadership style?

Ian Kiernan:    
  • (Former Prime Ministers) Bob Hawke and Paul Keating as leaders with vision They took the big picture and were realists
  • Fred Hollows - an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.

Published February 2004

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