I am sitting here trying to decide on the title of this week’s blog because I am sure that I am not the only one of Australia’s two million plus small and family businesses whose frustrations continue to rise over the state of government across Australia and the abject lack of leadership irrespective of which party you care to consider. Current leadership, irrespective of where they sit on the political spectrum, seems “hell bent” on “here and now” politics. As a nation we are lacking a clear vision and leadership focused on our future, however if you believe we do please let me know as I have missed it.
On November 8, the day after the Melbourne Cup, economist Peter Switzer offered a positive economic scorecard. Last Tuesday the National Australia Bank’s most recent monthly survey provided further evidence of our economic strength, “Australian businesses are in the midst of the best economic conditions in two decades, with rises across all industries including retail.” Yesterday the Consumer Sentiment Index dropped back to be fractionally below 100 again. Where is the plan, any plan let alone a clear one, to capitalise on our economic strength?
Disappointingly, both political parties are, in my view, lacking leadership. If we define leadership as the ability to Shape a sustainable future, and have the capacity to inspire and rally people to work together to want to take action then I am not inspired by the current behaviours displayed by our political leaders.
If we consider the attributes contemporary leaders require today, I think our country’s leaders fall well short. Let’s take a look at what McKinsey, Harvard Business Review, Forbes et al suggest today’s leaders need in order to be effective and impactful, irrespective of the sector they lead, and apply them to our political parties:
- Be a Role Model. Demonstrate confidence, be respectful of others at the same time not being afraid to be you, be humble and willing to acknowledge challenges and mistakes, set a path that encourages others to follow.
- Be Future Facing. Identifying trends, and building new skill-sets for this nation to ensure long-term viability and competitiveness. Lack of competitiveness is overcome through innovation and multiple-horizon critical thinking.
- Curiosity and Learning Agility. Develop deep insights, and the ability to adapt, respond, correct, and change quickly.
- Culturally attuned. See strength in valuing diversity, communicate through multiple channels and be able manage demographic and values shifts.
- Take a collaborative approach. Heroic “Follow Me” leadership is dead because of volatility, uncertainty, speed of change, ambiguity and complexity.
- Willingness to challenge the status quo. Take calculated risk to drive improvement.
- Ability to lead across generations. There will be four generations in Australia’s workforce by 2020.
- Embrace sustainability. Heightened awareness by a leader of the long-term consequences of their decisions.
I cannot give any of our current political leaders a pass-mark on any of these dimensions; maybe you can so I would be interested in you sharing your perspective.
In the meantime can our political leaders dispense with the infighting, sandboxing, one-upmanship, gesturing and short-term thinking, and get on with governing this country so we can capitalise on developing our economic wealth before the opportunity is lost, yet again, PLEASE!
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