19 January 2018 By Richard Dent OAM, CEO, Leadership Victoria
Catherine Walsh’s well-intentioned article in The Age (5/1) asked Australians to volunteer less. She gave sausage-sizzle examples and trots out the old saw that volunteering undercuts paid work.
Tell that to the volunteers who lead ICAN, the Australian organisation which has just won a Nobel Peace Prize for nuclear disarmament. Tell that to Dr Bronwyn King – the oncologist who voluntarily leads Tobacco Free Investments and has shaped a $6B industry shift. Tell that to the thousands of highly skilled professionals who lead countless boards of NFP organisations of all sizes and focuses.
Tell it to the thousands of mentors who share their wisdom and lived experience with younger Australians, recently arrived Australians, and under-resourced Australians. Tell it to the CFA. In fact, tell it to political party members!
Volunteers are central to Australian life.
But in one aspect though, Walsh is largely right: volunteering is undervalued. That’s because volunteering has a brand problem: in fact the very brand problem that Walsh’s own argument embodies. Volunteering is seen as narrow, local, and largely unskilled. That was probably false even in the 20th or previous centuries, but unfortunately it’s still a broadly held misperception. It’s a misperception that leads us to watch more Netflix and to forego voluntary civic engagement.
The truth is that contributions of volunteers are absolutely essential to our national identity and our national progress. And in future, volunteering will become even more important: as global wealth and productivity rises, Australians will have more opportunity to voluntarily lead progress in their fields of passion and expertise. This increase in activity will lead to strengthened social capital, increased innovation, increased health and wellbeing, and a better nation and world.
What we need is a national discussion on 21st century volunteering: we need Governments who recognise the highly leveraged investment which volunteers can comprise, we need a national strategy to unlock the amazing potential hidden in our communities, we need businesses and nonprofits who are thinking strategically about their connection to corporate and community purpose.
I accept the notion that perhaps sausage sizzles are economically inefficient: so volunteer less at them if you wish. But think carefully about your own contribution: be a leader and use your skills to do something good for someone. No matter how good your sausage-sizzle skills are, remember that Winston Churchill was an excellent bricklayer. If he’d spent the 1940’s bricklaying, history could be very different.
Government, business and community members need to support community contribution more strategically: civic engagement through volunteering is essential and will make Australia and the world a better place.
We shouldn’t should be doing less volunteering, we should be doing more and better.
19 January 2018 By Richard Dent OAM, CEO, Leadership Victoria
Peter Dutton’s recent comments about a “gang problem” with “Africans” in Melbourne are very unhelpful to the demographic he’s targeting and to Victoria as a whole. Scapegoating a group is not unusual leadership (think Trump and the Mexicans), but it’s also not good leadership.
Perhaps he’s backpedalled somewhat in his subsequent comments, highlighting – completely appropriately – that a tiny minority of young men in a few locations do not represent an entire demographic. But nevertheless his statements are causing very public damage, allowing racists in the community to latch on to his comments to scapegoat an identifiable group, and causing fear and concern in that population and in Victoria more broadly.
But – perhaps perversely – his comments have helped good leadership emerge.
Leadership Victoria is proud of working with African-focused organisations such as the African Think Tank for almost a decade, and many members of the African Australian community have been actively building their leadership capability for years.
One of LV’s key messages is that “anyone can exercise leadership, anywhere, anytime”, and that’s exactly what’s been happening.
Over the course of the past week, time and again African Australians have been on the nightly news and in our papers and online (notably in the delightfully ironic #africangangs movement). We are seeing individuals like Haileluel Gebre-selassie, Kot Monoah, Zione Walker-Nthenda and many others with a direct or indirect LV connection exercising community leadership in the best possible sense.
The message of these leaders is clear: they are proud to be part of the diverse tapestry of the Australian community and they are proud to exercise leadership and to contribute to a modern, inclusive, increasingly safe Australia.
Criminal behaviours should not be excused, no matter who they are: people who break the law should be legally apprehended, tried, and if guilty punished and rehabilitated. We should support Victoria Police in both their excellent community liaison work and their crime-fighting work. And we should support every organisation whose purpose is to address issues that lead to criminality as well as those who support victims.
If we want swifter, better progress for Australia, then more Australians (regardless of background, ethnicity, ability, gender or religion) will need to engage in civic processes, exercise community leadership at all levels and work to create a diverse and inclusive Australia.
In Victoria all mainstream political parties support our very successful multiculturalism, and we should celebrate the diversity of everyone who helps create a better world through good leadership. At the upcoming Premier’s Gala Dinner in Cultural Diversity Week, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition will walk together in excellent symbolism of our state’s shared commitment to diversity and inclusion: we should be proud of their leadership in this.
Negative comments by high-profile people who don’t really understand our Victorian multicultural successes are unhelpful, but with good community leadership excellent positive progress can emerge.
After all, anyone can exercise leadership, anywhere, anytime.
Richard Dent is CEO of Leadership Victoria, an independent nonpartisan nonprofit organisation which fosters leadership for swifter, better progress on complex social, economic and environmental issues.
20 December 2017 By Folio 2017 alumni
Through the experience and exposure of Folio, FCLP'17 would like to support the community organisations who so generously allowed immersion into their wonderful work, through creating a scholarship fund.
The scholarship will support one community leader to participate in the 2018 Folio program, covering the program fees, providing the recipient the opportunity to build their networks and enhance their leadership skills. You can help give the gift of learning by donating funds now.
Are donations tax deductible?
Will I receive a receipt for my donation?
Yes, as soon as your donation is processed.
3 October 2017 By Will Brodie
Richmond’s remarkable 2017 AFL premiership offers a fascinating insight into modern leadership.
This time last year, the Tigers were enduring a shambolic board challenge after a disastrous 13th-placed season, which concluded with several massive losses. They went into 2017 having not won a final in 17 years, and 37 years removed from their previous title. Few predicted they would make the final eight, let alone contend for the premiership.
Richmond’s leaders, President Peggy O’Neal and CEO Brendon Gale, held firm as their positions were challenged. But they were not sitting on their hands. They conducted an extensive review, overhauled the football department, and appointed renowned football manager Neil Balme.
Their steady-as-she-goes approach was a godsend for a large, sometimes volatile club haunted by former instability.
26 September 2017 By Will Brodie
You are what you read, and the smart leader always seeks inspiration from the best new books. We surveyed which tomes leadership experts recommend and these five publications consistently topped the best reading lists.
14 September 2017 By Will Brodie
Resilience is a leadership cornerstone as the modern workplace become more volatile.
As author Rosabeth Moss Kanter puts it: “When surprises are the new normal, resilience is the new skill.”
Leadership academic Will Sparks defines resilience as “the ability to respond effectively to disruptive events”.
He's inspired by philosopher, psychoanalyst and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who said that “choosing our response – our attitude – to any situation is the only true freedom we possess.”.
Here are some ploys experts offer to help foster resilience.
14 September 2017 By Will Brodie
Michael Dowling was recently honoured with an Order of Australia for “…significant service to the community of Geelong through leadership with a range of social welfare, business and education organisations.”
Modest Michael makes it sound like he was simply in the right place at the right time. On his first day with chartered accountants Day Nielson, in 1976, the Art Gallery of Geelong rang, seeking a replacement secretary.
Michael didn’t know there was a gallery in Geelong. He’d been in town for less than a week. But he became secretary for eight years, then President.
“People who have a board or organisation who are thinking of setting something up, they need someone with a legal background, someone with a financial background… So often you would get asked ‘can you do this?’.”
Michael answered ‘yes’ more often than not.
5 September 2017 By Will Brodie
Little wonder Elle Steele is in demand as a speaker.
She aims to inspire.
Elle represented Australia at the 2000 Paralympics as a 16-year-old. When devastating injuries curtailed her swimming career, she became a national representative in wheelchair rugby. She’s overcome major surgeries and depression to achieve elite sporting success and run businesses.
But she’s about more than good stories.
Elle brings expertise in countering adversity.
31 August 2017 By Will Brodie
“Leadership is the art of the possible and leaders with disability embody that.”
When Llewellyn Prain says this, it’s worth listening. The Williamson participant has excelled in the law, her own writing and editing business, and as a company director.
...and she lost her sight in 2014.
Llewellyn says she is “still in transition, still adjusting” to being vision impaired.
“There’s such a huge amount of misunderstanding around disability in our community. I grew up with vision-impaired sisters and a vision-impaired mum but I didn’t really understand disability until I had one… so I think the more people we have with disabilities in leadership the better.”
17 August 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: UniMelb. Amanda Sinclair
As a leadership expert, Amanda Sinclair is a triple threat. A respected academic, she is also an author and a teacher.
When writing for academic publication, she aims to be “interesting, relevant and engaging” to leaders.
To reach general readers, she has written many books, including her latest, Women Leading, with former Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon.
When teaching, she aims to engage her students, not to lecture at them.
So which of the three disciplines has the greatest impact?
17 July 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: habibasgreenville.com
Leaders can learn a lot from comedy.
Steve Cody, co-founder of digital communications agency Peppercomm, says stand-up comedy made him a better business executive.
“Comedy hones one's storytelling and listening skills and trains you to build rapport with a crowd… stand-up forced me to learn best practices for dealing with a negative or, even worse, totally impassive audience.”
Cody made stand-up and improvisational comedy “core components” of his company’s management training. He says it forged a “tighter, more collegial and fun culture”.
11 July 2017 By Will Brodie
Australian Ice Hockey League Commissioner Robert Bannerman oversees a sport with a low-profile down-under. Yet, the AIHL is televised weekly on Fox Sports and flies teams across the nation all winter. Its crowds and internet reach have grown every year since 2010. Under Robert’s leadership, the league’s sponsorship, previously non-existent, has flourished. Despite contending with a dearth of suitable facilities, lack of broad public awareness and the tyranny of distance, the AIHL is one of the recent success stories of minor Australian sport.
All this without Robert, or any other official or player, earning a cent. The entire undertaking is unpaid; the AIHL is an amateur league.
2 July 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: Wikipedia
If your organisation isn’t encouraging LGBTI inclusion, it is losing relevance.
As Harvard Business Review’s Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Kenji Yoshino point out, LGBT-inclusive companies “attract and retain top talent… they win the business of discerning consumers… and they harness the insight of LGBT employees to drive market innovation”.
They are also doing the right thing.
Here’s some suggestions for LGBTI inclusion from the experts, LGBTI people themselves.
19 June 2017 By Will Brodie
You’d expect Emma King, CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Services, to be a champion of inclusionary policies.
She is, but she believes they are pointless without genuine leadership.
“You can have all the best policies in the world, but you must enact them or they’re not worth anything.
You have to walk the walk.”
16 May 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: http://images.agoramedia.com/EHBlogImages
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” writes cultural innovator and activist Verna Myers.
Diversity is having a mix of people from varied backgrounds; inclusion is harnessing that mix.
Most leaders recognise diversity as a necessity for their organisations, but many struggle to achieve inclusion. Many diversity programs, often well-meaning, are too peripheral. They lack strategy, follow-up and depth. They aim to tick a box, or impress consumers and peers, rather than grapple with difference.
11 May 2017 By Noel Murphy
Image credit: Cotton On Foundation
Deepest darkest Africa’s human crucible is probably not the first place you’d expect a major fashion retailer to pour its proceeds.
But superstar Aussie rag-trader Cotton On is doing just that and rebuilding lives in one of the most dirt-poor, AIDs-ravaged places on Earth -- southern Uganda.
For the past decade, the Cotton On Foundation has tipped life-saving cash and personnel into the village of Mannya, and five others. The multi-faceted project is breathing hope and new life into them all, with clean water and healthcare, with schools and agricultural projects, finance, after-school education, university and vocation training.
11 May 2017 By Noel Murphy
Image credit: Sovereign Hill
A pretty 12-year-old girl in a pale yellow 1850s dress and bonnet sidles up to a crusty banjo-playing street musician as a clutch of Chinese, Indians and Japanese come at them armed with cameras, phones, videos, selfie sticks and iPads.
The babel of tongues, clicking of shutters and mass of wide grins in this little exercise is everyday stuff at Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill, back-to-back winner of Australia’s Best Tourist Attraction award.
Francesca, at just 12, is a friendly chatterbox and a striking drawcard for young children, especially little girls entranced with her costume and her delicate Asian features. She scratches at the street musicians’ fiddles and mandolins, pokes at their piano accordions, just as any curious kid her age might have done back in the Roaring Days. During the week, she’s a normal grade six schoolkid.
7 May 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: The Intern
If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, millennials are from a galaxy far, far away in the future and older workers are from, well, Earth. Twentieth century Earth.
Most workers under the age of 30 are comfy with social media platforms like Snapchat that are barely known to older compatriots. Most workers over the age of 50 have barely scrambled aboard Facebook.
There's never been a more urgent need to bridge the generation gap. Millennials already outnumber Generation X, they're about to become the most important retail demographic, and they will occupy 50% of the workforce by 2020.
So it’s little wonder organisations have embraced reverse mentoring, where a junior employee enters into a ‘professional friendship’ with an elder to exchange skills, knowledge and insights.
30 April 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: Diversity Australia
In the modern workplace, nurturing diversity improves adaptability, customer service, innovation and employee loyalty. It is profitable. Diversity is a pragmatic choice.
But our decisions are subject to unconscious bias; prejudices we don’t know we have. Without being aware of it, we judge people by age, weight, skin colour, gender, educational level, disability, sexuality, accent, social status, and job title. We limit diversity.
12 April 2017 By Will Brodie
Image source: latitude-resource.blogspot.com.au
Is it a way to find out the amount of madmen in a society?
A means of finding nerds dedicated to eradicating inches and yards from the world?
But neither are they instruments of mental torture as many people may believe.
10 April 2017 By Will Brodie
Change is the constant in today’s working world, and adapting to it means leaders need support for their ideas. They need ‘buy-in’.
Here's how Simon Dowling, author of Work With Me: How To Get People To Buy Into Your Ideas sums it up.
“You achieve better results when people go along with your ideas because they want to, not because they have to… It's not about using power and authority, it's about building support and commitment to your ideas and initiatives.”
5 April 2017 By Will Brodie
Theresa May. Image by newstatesman.com
Is there a national leader in the developed world facing tougher challenges than British Prime Minister Theresa May?
She supported remaining in the European Union while Home Secretary, but now administers Great Britain’s complex retreat from Europe.
Scotland wants a second referendum on independence from Great Britain; the Great Repeal Bill involves re-tooling thousands of regulations; there are concerns about the rights of individual British and EU citizens; the financial cost of the exit will be at least 30 billion pounds; and, if all the above is negotiated within an exacting two-year timetable, the whole package may still be rejected by the divided UK parliament.
27 March 2017 By Will Brodie
Image Credit: Tina Rowden/AMC
Have you ever met a female astronomer? A woman working as an industrial engineer? A girl coding?
Not many of us have, because the gender gap in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is immense, and growing.
Halt and Catch Fire, an engaging US drama about two women running a gaming company in the 1980's, is bringing this subject to the fore. The show is based on fact; there were more females working in computer science 35 years ago than there are today.
21 March 2017 By Will Brodie
Image credit: heraldsun.com.au
These days, there’s fewer fire and brimstone speeches, more talk of delegation and empathy.
Nobody typifies this evolution to nuanced man-management more than Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley.
A driven perfectionist as a player and captain, Buckley still insists that working harder brings better results, but his take on how to do that has undergone a revolution.
15 February 2017 By LV
Constantine Oscuchukwa doesn’t lack leadership. He’s the Anglican priest at St Paul’s Bakery Hill Ballarat after all.
But Constantine sought mentorship through the New and Emerging Communities Leadership Program because he says leaders “never stop learning”. Specifically, he wanted to improve his business skills.
Leadership Victoria paired him with local businessman Mike McCaw, a connection crucial to the establishment of the inspiring One Humanity Shower Bus project.