Living in a Liberal Democracy- Voting for the Next Leaders in Australia

Today is the day in Australia that we decide who will form government at the federal (national) level for the next three years.

Elections in Australia are compulsory. Personally, I think this is a good thing. Early voting has been at an all time high – 50% have already voted prior to today.

So, my family and I voted first thing this morning at a local primary school. We turned up with our masks on, followed COVID protocols and cast our vote ie Linda, our two sons and myself. We formed our own little voting block – which the election staff were amused by. My daughter had already voted during the week as she is away at the moment.

I learnt a long time ago – we are all a lot smarter than our political overlords think we are – but, they know emotion can still rule the day.

This election has had the worst campaign I can ever recall. So, not that interesting and old fashioned mocking of the leaders. But, here’s the thing: there are 24 close seats out of 151 and that makes watching the counting of the votes tonight interesting.

We happen to be in one of the most marginal of those marginal 24 seats and so, I know that my vote has counted. No blue ribbon or red ribbon advantage here.

I understand politics very well. Afterall, I’m still in that world, even though I have tried to walk away from it many times.

From my point of view, I know many of the politicians fighting for their political future. I have had the privilege to work alongside them and also lobby them for key resources for many different communities.

As my former politics tutor, Paddy O’Brien said many years ago – we are so lucky to live in a liberal democracy, not just a democracy, but a liberal one. Voting is compulsory, but we get the whole gamut of candidates to choose from – and I think that’s a wonderful thing 😊

Keeping Up With The Latest Leadership Trends – Three Questions Aspiring Leaders Need To Ask Themselves

In today’s world of the post information super highway, how does an aspiring leader, or an established leader for that matter, keep up with the latest leadership trends without getting lost in all the information that is available at their fingertips?

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Information Super Highway – an electronic network that moves information around really fast e.g. the interweb, television networks and streaming services, pod casts and so on…

For aspiring leaders, discerning what to read, watch or listen to is just as important as the key decisions you make. To assist you work out the type of information delivery system that suits you, there are three questions you need to answer:

How Do I Learn?

A key to understanding ourselves is to work out how we learn

To learn is the process of how you take in information and then use it to build on the knowledge and skills you currently have. Is it through: classical conditioning by association (e.g. think Pavlov’s dog)? or is it by operant conditioning (positive reinforcement or punishment)? or perhaps it is through observation (something you have seen, heard or noticed)?

Apart from the classical methods of learning there is also social learning. Simply put: how we learn from and about other people (Frontiers for Young Minds, 2020)

Once you understand how you learn, you can then decide on the best way to receive leadership information and resources. For example, my primary method of learning is by observation. I am a voracious reader and can retain vast amounts of information. I also listen to the radio in the car: sports talk back, interviews, news items of interest. However, I’m not a big fan of podcasts, so I don’t listen to very many.

Taking my what I know about myself further, when I have something explained to me, I prefer a visual display. I cannot sit there for hours on end while someone describes what I need to know. I need to see context, for it to be interactive, and to the point. I realised early on that my success as a CEO rested on this very foundation.

Is It Important For Me To Keep Up With Leadership Trends?

The simple answer is: Yes. A good leader knows this!

A constant struggle is knowing what, or perhaps who, to keep up with. The shortest way to success with this question is to undertake the journey of “information self discovery.” In other words: do your research!

My suggestion for the aspiring leader is to “discover” four or five information sources that resonate very strongly with you based on the following delivery methods:

  • Business Journals These are magazine style publications either online or in hard copy and are published weekly or monthly or even quarterly.
  • Blogs There is a dearth of information within the 70 million or so blogs out there. However, a keyword search or hashtag will turn up what you are looking for.
  • VBlog Some bloggers have also turned to video to impart their knowledge and wisdom. YouTube makes it easy to find who they are.
  • Podcasts Recordings by industry gurus have been around for a little while now and of course they can be found on many different platforms, whether online or through a dedicated App.
  • Interactive Apps This approach is very much a generational enigma. You will either get on board with what interactive apps are and how they work, or you won’t. If they are managed well by the participating team members, they are a very effective tool re information sharing and knowledge development. Think
  • Learning Tools and Resources. There are a range of online sites that provide free resources (e.g. Businessballs) or you can have access through a paid subscription (e,g. Mindtools).
  • TV Shows/Streaming Platforms Like all those cooking shows out there on a myriad of business programs for you to watch.
  • Books by Business Authors Quite simply, the business leader who as a guru has published key insights in very long form or copy! Of course these days, you can get such books electronically. Although, every now and then I enjoy just browing through a bookshop to find what I am after.

My favourite sources of information based on the above list are: The Harvard Business Review (journal), MiddleMe by Kally (a blog) and key books that changed my understanding on organisational effectiveness: Ricardo Semler (Maverick), Peter M Senge (The Fifth Discipline) Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke (Service America and its subsequent updates). Of course each author has also produced a vast ongoing series of work.

How Much Information Do I Need?

The trick is not to take on the latest fad of the week. It will drive your team nuts!

Despite how your leadership style evolves over time, there are key (core) traits you tend to keep. These are the foundation of what, or who, you are as a leader. In essence, the information, tools, skills and knowledge a leader needs should build on the foundation of their core self.

This means not trying out, on those you lead, every single suggestion you come across. If you do, you will drive them to despair, which is even more counterproductive than providing no leadership at all.

By way of explanation, many years ago, a head of department I worked alongside with was completing an MBA. Now this should have been cause for celebration. However, on those mornings when I popped over before work to visit this person’s teams, I would find them moaning and groaning. In particular, they would be complaining about how they were being subjected to the latest leadership technique covered at university the night before. It proved to be a big distraction and also demotivating.

Remember: less is more 😊

By way of contrast, my approach at that time was much more subtle. I picked out a couple of simple leadership techniques I had read about in the Havard Business Review: using thank you notes and team members holding up red cards when they wanted to speak during meetings.

Using the former example, I would stick a Post-it note in a prominent position on each team member’s desk or monitor after work on a Friday. This involved personalising each note regarding what I considered they had done well during the week.

What this meant was, by the time we got to the staff meeting on Monday morning, even the most demotivated team member was jumping out of their skin. In short, I discovered this approach had far more better results than any performance appraisal could deliver.

The challenge for you in today’s world is finding something that will work as effectively as a Post-it note did for me – then again you might just want to use them anyway – sometimes old school methods still work 😊

The Last Word

So, to conclude, once you have identified the four of five go-to leadership information sources you enjoy most, you can start looking forward to the updates they provide. Then you can begin to discover those topics that resonate very strongly with you and begin to absorb them without burning yourself out trying to read, try or watch everything that is out there…

Team Members as Leaders – In 4 Easy Steps

In today’s post, I thought I would revisit and share with you Bruce Tuckman’s model regarding teams, however, this time from an approach of encouraging team members as leaders…

For those who don’t know, Bruce Tuckman (Smith, 2005) was an educational psychologist who came up with a model regarding small groups (teams) that I believe makes perfect sense when it comes to understanding what you need to do regarding better team leadership and how to resolve conflicts that may occur.

Alhough there is a wealth of information out there regarding team development. Tuckman’s model is, in my opinion, still the best. His model makes it easy to understand what is happening with your team, explaining to your team why this is happening and what to do with such a hurdle.

Tuckman’s Key Advantage – Keeping it Simple

One of the key advantages of Tuckman’s model is that as a leader, you can make it as complex or as simple as you like regarding your situation. For my mind, keeping it simple is key.


When pulling together your team for the first time, or even if you are trying to reinvigorate your team, help the team members develop a set of rules regarding the team’s purpose, how it will function and the outcomes required.

Teams generally get through this stage very quickly. However, what happens in the next stage is the tricky part. However, you have already instilled in some team members a key leadership skill for the future.


Usually, teams hit a roadblock or two early on in their development. In essence, this is about one or more team members “bucking” againt the rules. To help the team get past this stage, call them out together as a team and teach them the very basics of conflict resolution. Remember, keeping it simple is best, so use things like revisiting the team rules, stressing the importance of win win outcomes and what it means to work as a team (we embrace our differences).

Your aspiring leaders have now seen how to resolve conflict, effectively.


To achieve this stage, introducing the concept of shared leadership to the team is a must. Shared leadership is where team members influence each other and share responsibility for tasks, rather than the concept of a team being led by a specific leader (Fowler, 2019). In essence, you act as a coach to help team members develop some leadership skills so that they can in turn, lead the team through aspects (actions) of the task, project or service they have direct responsibility for.


More often than not, the norming stage is where teams settle. However, if you want to open the door on the team jumping out of its skin and achieving more outcomes on a consistent basis, then empower the team to use the peer approach (Nasif, 2021).

Peer leadership is really mentorship in action within your organisation. In essence, this is where team members are encouraged by you to turn and to connect with others outside the team who can share their knowledge and experiences regarding how to solve certain problems. However, note that peer leaders aren’t just a resource for addressing problems — they share tips and strategies for those looking to grow professionally as well.

Your role as leader then becomes more focussed on the strategic work ahead.

Adjourning (Mourning)

Tuckman about 12 years later added a fifth element to his model: adjournment. This is what happens when the team dynamic is disrupted due to the team losing one or more members. This is a topic for another time, but essentially, the team needs to regroup and start the team cycle all over again.

A Short Example

About five years ago, I was conducting a training program to 20 elected members (local government councillors or aldermen) from five local governments regarding their roles and responsibilities. During one of the sessions on meeting procedures and debating, I was asked a question by a number of councillors as to why there was conflict amongst their respective councils.

As this was a buring question, I stopped the training session and asked the group if they wanted to understand more about team dynamics. Of course, there was a unanimous response. So I quickly explained Tuckman’s model and asked each group where they saw their council in the team cycle. The majority quickly said “the storming phase.”

As a result, I was able to give suggestions on how to break out of the destructive pattern caused by going around in circles. This included the need for them to revisit and understand the rules in place for each council (how we do business), weathering the storm through active listening and how to “norm” their behaviour through applying greater levels of due diligence (making more of an effort to understand the reports before them when making key decisions).

Further Reading

Kelly Palmer and David Blake (2018). ‘How to Help Your Employees Learn from Each Other.’ Harvard Business Review.[ Retrieved: 13 April 2022]

Fowler, A. (2019). ‘Shared leadership: Fundamentals, benefits and implementation.’ [ Retrieved: 13 April 2022]

Nasif, N. (2021). ‘Want a more inclusive culture? Consider the power of peer leadership.’ Chief Learning Officer.[ Retrieved: 13 April 2022]

Pushfar. (2021). ‘Mentoring vs Coaching: The Key Differences and Benefits.’ [ Retrieved 20 April 2022]

Smith, M. K. (2005). ‘Bruce W. Tuckman – forming, storming, norming and performing in groups, the encyclopaedia of informal education.’ [ norming-and-performing-in-groups/. Retrieved: 13 April 2022]

Julian Lennon Performs ‘IMAGINE’ for Global Citizen’s Stand Up For Ukraine w/Nuno Bettencourt

I thought I would share Julian’s public performance of his Dad’s truly great, beautiful and moving song from earlier this week...

What Julian Says About His Moving Performance on His YouTube Page

“The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy… As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could.

So today, for the first time ever, I publicly performed my Dad’s song, IMAGINE. Why now, after all these years? – I had always said, that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘IMAGINE’ would be if it was the ‘End of the World’…

But also because his lyrics reflect our collective desire for peace worldwide. Because within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time…

The song reflects the light at the end of the tunnel, that we are all hoping for…

As a result of the ongoing murderous violence, millions of innocent families, have been forced to leave the comfort of their homes, to seek asylum elsewhere.

I’m calling on world leaders and everyone who believes in the sentiment of IMAGINE, to stand up for refugees everywhere! Please advocate and donate from the heart.

#StandUpForUkraine” —Julian Lennon

I can only imagine what John would have to say right now about what is happening in the Ukraine…

The Three Attributes of a Good Leader – VLS

There are three qualities I believe a good leader should aspire to achieve before all others

The people we work with are human – never forget that. They deserve your trust and respect. The best way to value them is to make them feel a part of what is happening and to give them a sense of purpose. By developing these three attributes, I have found most will start to respond positively in a very short period of time 😊

Have a Vision

Develop a clear picture of the purpose to be pursued. Whether this is your personal vision or that of the team’s you have developed together, it must be short, clear, quantifiable and easily understood. Using a picture or a diagram helps 😉

“By Easter 2023, we will have a new series of promotional videos on the three attributes of leadership in place.”

Always Listen

Turn off your agenda! Be quiet. Seek input from others, ask questions. Say what you need to say at the end. This is not easy to do and takes discipline. However, once you start to master this requirement, those around you will feel encouraged to participate far more positively.

“What are your thoughts regarding our new vision?”

Share What You Know

Embrace the light. Don’t keep those around you in the dark. I have said this before – what you know, others must know. However, sometimes we need to adjust the level of what can be revealed.

“The CEO has responded positively to our new vision on the three attributes on leadership. She wants an in person update to the executive team each quarter on the progress of their development.”

What are effective leadership qualities you have developed and/or used?

We have green sea turtles for Sean! — Markus + Micah

After being away for the last week and a bit on the road (catching up with clients), I thought I would share with you today a post by Markus and Micah who are involved with turtle advocay regarding the pag-asa pawikan protection and conservation center – a wonderful conservation initiative for one of the planet’s most amazing creatures. Markus and Micah are not just community advocates, but community leaders in my book. As part of this project, I have contributed in a very small way, but the outcome has been truly amazing! Read on and then link through to their post…

Some exciting news: Sean’s nest adopted for his grandson Leo surprised us by revealing themselves as the endangered green sea turtles. This is the first time we saw these babies at the hatchery. Aren’t they the cutest thing ever? We got the news and photos this morning and I could not wait to share it […]

We have green sea turtles for Sean! — Markus + Micah

Leaders Say What We Cannot!

Photo by Pixabay on

I am going to share a single thought with you today: leaders say what we cannot! The greatest leaders form words that not only define a generation, but guide us through the echoes of time. Sometimes, the significance of these words are lost. However, it is always up to the new generation of leaders to not only remember these words, but to act on them! Who knows – even some of these new leaders may say something to inspire others for many years to come.

Churchill said: “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to change often.” 

Lincoln said: “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

The Duke of Wellington said: “All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don’t know by what you do; that’s what I called ‘guess what was at the other side of the hill’.”

Eleanor of Aquitaine: “Trees are not known by their leaves, nor even by their blossoms, but by their fruits.”

Julius Caeser: “It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.”

Is there a modern leader who inspires you?

The Legacy of Greatness – Vale Bacchus

In the space of a day, last Friday, Australian sport and the cricketing world lost two giants of the game – Rod Marsh and Shane Warne. My story is about one of those legends – the colossus known as Bacchus!

Rod Marsh aka Bacchus (Iron Gloves )

He loomed over my earliest cricket memories like a colossus – well, a short and stumpy colossus, crouched behind the stumps, leaping spectacularly to take catches like some Swan Lager-consuming ninja.

Stephen Vagg – Roar Guru

Some of my earliest memories are at a friend’s house where we talked about how much we liked the Australian cricketers Rod Marsh, Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee. We didn’t like Ian Chappell too much – he was grumpy, surly, but he could bat and wasa good in “slips.” The fact that these great cricketers, who were very young men themselves at the time, made such an impression on a group of little boys said something about what was to come.

In our minds, Rod Marsh was the best wicketkeeper of all time. Rod was born in my home town. He rose to fame quickly through first grade cricket and then the Western Australian state side. When he finally received the tap on the shoulder to play for Australia, he had a shaky start, dropping a number of catches, where he quickly acquired the name “Iron Gloves” form his skipper: Ian Chappell. His on field relationship, after that dubious start, with Dennis Lillee became legendary – the best bowler/wicket keeper combination ever. Not only that, Dennis was another homegrown great and to my mind the best fast bowler of all time. Without him as an inspiration, the West Indian quicks would not have risen to the prominence they did under Clive Lloyd.

Fast forwarding slightly, another vivid memory is being on a school bus during an exercusion where we all sang the song recorded by the Australian Cricket Team during the 1972 Ashes series: “Here Come The Aussies.” It was a song designed to stir up the Australian public and take on the “Old Enemy” – England. The Ashes were on the line, and we hadn’t been doing particularly well for a little while. The result: a two all draw, however, it meant that England retained the Ashes. There is not another trophy like the Ashes, apart from perhaps, the America’s Cup. It has this amazing history and tradition, steeped with the greatest players of the game (three out of the top five), all rolled up into a firey history that saw Australians and Poms at each other over what was referred to as Bodyline! It was that serious there were even communiques between prime ministers and the parliaments.

I first saw Rod in action as a little boy down at the WACA. Dad took me to the second Ashes test against England at Perth in 1974/75. We sat on those very uncomfortable wooden benches, being baked in that formidable Aussie sunshine. Bacchus was “keeping” to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson. The bowling, as it was during the first test in Brisbane – was fearsome. To appreciate what I mean by this, here is the trailer to Forged in Fire – and even to my eye now, I wouldn’t be too keen being out there in the middle:

During his international career, Rod came to epitomise everything that was great regarding the game: talented, unrelenting, tough as hell, feared, sporting, innovator and a traditionalist. For a number of years, he was viewed as unsportsmanlike by a number of opponents and their fans. However, this perception changed when during the 1977 Centenary Test at the MCG, Rod insisted Derek Randall be recalled after the England batsman was given out to a catch that Rod thought he may have collected on the bounce. The significance is this – the match hung in the balance.

In a second incident four years later back at the MCG, Rod was very clearly the vocal and visible voice of dissent when his captain, Greg Chappell instructed younger brother Trevor to bowl underarm against New Zealand. At the time, underarm bowling was still legal and I can say many of us were disappointed with Greg’s decison too. Rod was a wag too – famous for drinking 44 cans of beer on a flight from Australia to the UK. You can’t do that now.

The Lillee Marsh Stand – WACA

As with all champion players, the WACA named the Lillee Marsh stand after this formidable duo. My good friend, cricket team mate and captain, Laney (a formidable batsman in his own right) and I used to train at the WACA during winter. Anyway, back in the good old days, before we set the local cricketing scene on fire 😂, he and I were watching Merv Hughes tear apart the West Indian batting line-up from the safety of the Lillee Marsh Stand during the second test at the WACA. Apart from Merv’s great performance of 13 wickets for the match, the only problem was, Viv Richards carved Australia up to the tune of 146 runs and thus we lost the test.

Rod was considered a true mastermind of the game. He was a noted tactician, cricket captain, coach and administrator. So much so, he was the administrator not of just the Australian Cricket Academy, but in England too. His approach developing the future generations of elite cricketers transformed the game. He was also, until 2016, Australia’s Chairman of Selectors.

From a personal family perspective, my nana was a good friend of Rod’s aunt. They played lawn bowls together. My uncle knew Rod quite well and Dennis too. Last Friday, as I was getting my hair cut, Steve my barber and I reminisced about the good old days regarding Rod. You see, Steve had been Rod’s barber back in the day and if he ever wanted to get a rise out of Rod, all he had to say was “how’s it going Iron Gloves.”

Rod’s brother Graham was a champion golf player both home and internationally. In fact, he is also a renowned designer of golf courses throughout the world. I was involved as part of the city team regarding the initial stages when he designed the Goldfields Golf Course in Kalgoorlie.

Rod and his good mate Dennis were also investors in that Paul Hogan movie Crocodile Dundee. They had the last laugh, as it made them more than a little bit of money.

Vale Bacchus – a true icon of the game. A colossus who would have said of such a description: “knock it off mate.” Have a drink on us as you mosey down to watch the other greats in action regarding that great cricket pantheon in the sky.

Rod Marsh – The Keeper of the Test Cricket Flame – The Australian

In 96 Tests Rod Marsh scored 3,633 runs at an average of 26.51 including three hundreds. He took 343 catches and made 12 stumpings. He also played 92 ODIs. He spent much of his career standing back to the Aussie quicks – 95 of his catches were off Dennis Lillee

On his retirement from test cricket, he and Dennis had the same number of dismissals – 355

The Monster Who Painted Themselves Into a Corner – Can Tyranny Be Given A Way Out?

What happens when a monster paints themselves into a corner? The problem is this: when you have painted yourself into a corner, the way out is the opposite to how you got there.

Photo by Dmitry Demidov on

In a time long forgotten, there lived a monster who was delusional. The monster had formed the belief since childhood that they could do anything they wanted at the expense of everything and everyone around them. Over time, the monster found itself in control of their community. A leader it would seem for the ages, but this promise soon turned to dust. However, that didn’t deter the monster from moving forward, because their childhood belief helped minimise the fear that was at the heart of their soul. They knew the only way to manage their fear was to control all around them.

Sadly, as a result of this fear, the monster one day found themselves painted into a corner. The monster’s beliefs had become so palpable they had promised their friends a grand empire based on taking over the neighbouring communities – a measure designed to keep the creeds of all “outside” communites away and one that was designed to ensure there would be immense spoils for the friends to share in, for ever more.

Like a self fulfilling prophecy the monster felt they had to keep that promise. After a few days of trying to take over the neighbouring community, the monster stared out from the corner. The friends were snickering – “gives us more.” “I will,” the monster replied. Irrational thoughts formed of how to crush those to make this happen.

On the sixth day of the conflict to dominate the surrounding communities (which wasn’t going to plan), the monster while trawling through the Interweb to verify their level of success, came across a post that asked the question: “Have you painted yourself into a corner?” Suddenly, the final words in this post rang out like a beacon across the monster’s soul:

I will say this—whatever corner you’ve got yourself painted in to, it is absolutely possible to get out of it! It will take some objectivity (to be able to see what you’re really doing), some vulnerability (to admit your role in your situation) and some courage (to allow yourself to do things differently), but it can be done.

Kate HANLEY – have you painted yourself into a corner?

Shortly after reading the post, the monster took a call from a friend. Well, it was someone they had an uneasy friendship with, but they knew underneath it all, this friend held a lot of sway. After taking the phone call, the monster decided they needed time out. Suddenly, while sipping on a luxury brand, sitting in a luxury exchangeable fur, other calls came in from leaders in faraway communities. The leaders said firmly, but fairly: “Your behaviour cannot be allowed to continue, but if you are interested, we can help you address your fear.” The monster grunted each time in response, but the knot in their stomach began to ease. The monster and the hangers on began to see what their actions had really done – so much hurt and terror to others, just to ease their own pain. The Monster then boomed out across the developing wasteland: “I was wrong, please help me.”

Allies, friends, member communities and those impacted by the Monster’s actions stopped for a moment. The door opened in the corner of the room the monster had painted themselves into, and without thinking twice, the monster stepped through it.

The Ukraine Playbook – A Failure in Leadership

One leader cackles with glee. Another leader puts on a brave face. The remaining leaders are playing poker.

What we are seeing play out right now regarding the Ukraine is, sadly, from a well worn playbook. Even sadder, is the time taken by others who can stop such aggression.

A diplomatic solution is always the preferred option, but diplomacy was taken off the table some years ago. Sanctions are pointless too when initiated well after the event.

What we are left with then, is a win/lose outcome.

From a systems viewpoint, the West and perhaps others, have no other option but to escalate a rapid response.

The push into the Ukraine is the means to an end. It’s about a leader who wants to exact revenge on others who contributed to the dismantling of the Soviet Union.

You would be forgiven for thinking: “but, isn’t the devolution of the Soviet Union irrelevant, it was so long ago?”

Obviously, a certain individual doesn’t think so.

Do we really have to go back to the time of Churchill to understand what is required to be done here?

Well, quite simply, yes.

What leader right now has spoken with any authority, as Churchill did. All Churchill had for a long time were words, but such words that meant everything to many people, that rallied them and key leaders, and in turn, bit into the heart of the aggressor.

Who is going to come out tomorrow and instead of talking about sanctions, make it clear the aggressor is going to be stopped dead in their tracks?

Like Putin used the Zulu “horns of the bull” strategy on the Ukraine, those who support this beleaguered sovereign nation, need to work out how to beat this tactic – in short: use words through one mouth piece that unite many, aim at those who support the aggressor, pin the aggressor down and through such action make Vladimir realise his behaviour is futile.

Unfortunately, it will also mean using a united and blistering array of power to bring the message home.

%d bloggers like this: