Nailing That CEO / Executive Role or What I Am Up to for the Next Five Years

I recently made the decision to get back into being a full time Local Government CEO. So, I thought I would share with you today part of that journey through a presentation I had to make at my interview with Council. The process I used here can be tailored made to suit your own aspirations to be a CEO, executive or senior manager. Please read on…

The brief was that all applicants had to deliver a presentation to the Shire council regarding the first 100 days as the new CEO. This included what areas of the organisation would be reviewed or audited during this time and what mechanism would be used to commence engaging with the seven towns and their surrounding communities of interest.

I summarised my thoughts at the start of the presentation by setting out what the first 100 days would consist of and then breaking these down further regarding the areas for review and what this would entail and then an overview on the community engagement process.

It’s up to you whether you have an introduction to each section of your presentation. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.

The challenge when taking over any organisation is assessing the culture, the weaknesses and threats and how you quickly mitigate these or eliminate them altogether. By using the above, you will quickly build trust and staff will start to have an open ear (mind) and start to think for themselves.

It’s all about the team(s). Individuals won’t last long into today’s workplace, regardless of where you are working: onsite, from home, remotely in another part of the world and so on.

Quickly identify all your stakeholders and let them know you have arrived! First impressions are always important and none more so than identifying who you need to reach out to in the first five days.

For local government in Western Australia, the matter of financial management is governed by both legislation and the Australian Accounting Standards, which in turn are based on the international standards. So, from the point of view of having appropriate systems and processes, this will be the same for any organisation, except we have some additional ones that are particular to local government.

The Albrecht Customer Service Triangle is so simple in its construct, but I have used it effectively in transforming organisations for many years. The above can be adjusted to suit any organisation or department (or branch) you may be responsible for.

What more can I say about good record keeping! Being open and transparent for any business is vital regarding future and ongoing success. It is also an effective way to deal with the social media armchair experts.

For those who are in the compliance game or tracking your systems and processes to help minimise risks, I have found a good tool to develop a compliance calendar. As a took it is extremely easy to issue compliance tasks and even easier for the respondent to provide an update for their responsibilities. Finally, the reporting mechanism is simple and clean – graphs in a flash.

Risk management and safety in the workplace go hand in hand. In terms of risk management, identifying those inherent risks as quickly as you can and tracking these is vital. With workplace safety, CEOs in Western Australia are now directly liable i.e. personally for any major mishap. This involves serious fines and imprisonment for up to 7 years.

So, like any customer, engaging with communities and the people and groups that make up those communities is a key challenge. Understanding social capital (trust) is critical and delivering outcomes based on quality is often difficult to sell because you are always up against “we want it now!”

The above is a classic example of a community project that was two years over due. I walked in and got it happening. The end result was a revitalised town center including commercial precinct and an internal bypass road for heavy transport. The town centre has become a safe place for all. On the bake of this success, the local government rebuilt trust around a whole range of issues.

Sustainability is a key challenge for any CEO or executive. The trick is to ensure that any strategic plan or other plan you have is based on sustainability principles. Also, keep it simple. I was able to boil down the who matter of social capital and sustainability in one slide.

The above engagement plan is based on IAP2 (public participation). The sections in yellow, orange, green and light blue highlight my thoughts on the types of engagement when.

So how did it all go? Well, as the recruitment consultant said to me, I was like Phar Lap compared to the other candidates (I think he might of been exaggerating a bit). If you’re an Aussie, you will know exactly what this means. Needless to say, I didn’t feel so old any more!

In case your wondering did I nail what I said I would do in the first 100 days? Absolutely, and then some 🙂

If you use a similar format to the above, I suspect you will come very close to realising, or you will achieve that next big step in your career. The bottom-line – make sure you do your homework.

To Lead Is To Let Go…

As a leader, when you let go, it’s going to be okay…

I remind myself of the above mantra everyday. The trick though, is to make sure I have systems and processes in place that allow me to move on, leaving key work to others, and nailing the outcomes I need to achieve.

In today’s world, leading by example is completely different to what it was visualised in the 1950s through to the 1990s. As a leader today, it is important to remind yourself not to be the best at everything, or to be the toughest or to overload yourself with more objectives than you can achieve. For instance, as much as I like watching KDramas, Chinese dramas and jdoramas, it frustrates me to watch the central leads be these superhuman CEOs that are fantastic at everything, except relationships – and maybe that’s the point?

What Might Leading By Example Look Like?

So, leading by example in the current world might look something like this:

  1. Leaving work on time i.e. the same time as everybody else, or even a bit earlier, sometimes. Ah, the boss is human afterall;
  2. Not trawling through emails or making calls during meetings, conferences and other engagements (not possible I hear you say). Staff will keep being needy if you let them. Encourage meaningful conversations at team meetings, provide clarity and talk to one another – emailing is not the same as a face to face conversation;
  3. Taking time off when you should – take those days and weekends off and holidays owed to you! It took me a long time to do this, but I finally got there;
  4. Not being heroic after a dental appointment and returning to work. Something we baby boomers tend to do ad nauseum. Refer to the answer section below;
  5. Delegating tasks once comfortable the delegate has a handle on the task. The rule of thumb is 25% of what you do can be delegated.

So, over the last week, how did I go regarding the above list?


1 = 10/10, 2 = 9/10, 3 = 10/10, 4 = 5/10, 5 = 10/10

So, yes, my one epic fail – I went to the dentist this week and had a lot of work done. I drove 125kms there and then turned around and drove back to work. However, after two hours of pushing through once back in the office and dealing with some tricky issues, I ended up leaving work two hours early as I was starting to flag in a big way. Next time – I will just head straight home 😉

At Peter’s 60th birthday party last night – a great friend (40 plus years), entrepreneur, IT guru and the 2023 Sybiz Hall of Famer (Sybiz introduced the first Windows accounting software in the world in the early 1990s)

Engaging Your Employees And Those You Work With!

Engagement: the process of encouraging people to be interested in the work of an organization, etc. (Cambridge Dictionary)

The many faces we are faced with…

The Cambridge definition is as good as I have seen regarding what employee engagement is.

Some say it’s about the emotional connection you make.

However, I believe employee engagement is beyond emotion, satisfaction and happiness.

For my mind, when dealing with the many faces of those who work for you or with you, engagement is about the promise you make to them and then using the right mechanism (tool or method) to honour this commitment. As a result, an employee in most instances will commit to the organisation that transcends the normal employer/employee relationship.

So, what are the tools of engagement that can assist you with your promise?

  • Embrace Leadership
    • Take an interest in all parts of the organisation;
    • Go beyond walk the talk – actually get the team(s) to show you how they do it!
  • Keep Employees Informed
    • Confirm how your team likes to communicate (this is about them, not you), then implement it.
    • Promote and encourage discussion around openness, trust and transparency.
  • Promote Collaboration (Within teams and between teams)
    • Assist team leaders understand the team process.
    • Encourage finding the most effective method of collaboration. Is it having a good time, working with a loose structure, or sharing a vision?
  • Implement Training and Development
    • Offer continuing professional development and base training and development on performance appraisals outcomes.
    • Match each team member with a suitable mentor.

Resilience Tip #1 – Remember to take time out for yourself

Taking a break during rehearsals last Sunday

If Your Not Living On The Edge You’re Wasting Space!

As I was heading to the Shire depot Friday morning to fuel up my car, I tuned into the ABC. The commentator was repeating what a listener had just rung in and delivered on air – the above “pearl of wisdom”…

Of course, we all had a bit of a giggle, commentators and listeners alike, but it got me thinking!

Such a saying could have a whole range of meanings:

  • Life’s too short, so do something worthwhile;
  • Go out and party every night;
  • Just do it – act now, regret it later;
  • Be innovative, create a new tomorrow;
  • Challenge yourself – undertake extreme sports and adventures.

For me, living on the edge is about being innovative, creative, embracing new ideas. That’s what I do in the professional sphere.

However, at home, it’s about finding that next great cup of tea, enjoying each others company, sitting under a tree, the simple things in life.

Then what about when I played sport – interestingly enough, it was about understanding the history of the game so that the lessons learnt could be used to turn a match on its head (which happened every now and then). Just so you know, I’m referring to the great game of Cricket here – a sport of ultimate skill, knowledge and strategy.

In recent years, I have finally done something more concrete re playing the guitar. As much as I like playing a song the way it “should be,” I much more enjoy the process behind playing a tune and then playing it “our” way.

A recent view of Rob and Tony from the electronic drum kit, preparing for our rehearsals.

So, do I waste space? Sometimes. And, I think that’s okay. We all need down time. It’s a case of working out what works for you in this regard.

What does living on the edge mean to you?

How to deal with Ephemeral Behaviour

To be ephemeral, is to last a short time. In the time of myth, ephemera might be a fairy, born at dawn but expiring with the setting sun

Ephemeral in today’s context is an object or an event that is fleeting, typically lasting for one day at the most.

As a behaviour it can be highly disruptive.

In terms of what is happening around us, it drives the 24 hour news cycle.

With the arts and culture it can be the theme that encapsulates a “ground hog day” experience.

In nature, it can be the humble caterpillar emerging from its cocoon to be become a beautiful butterfly or a humble moth. Or, it can be, like the fairy, a mushroom or toadstool.

The issue

So, how do we deal with that momentary disruption?

If it’s a colleague who comes barrelling into your office, don’t be afraid to ask them to sit down and wait or take a deep breath until you can deal with them.

What if it’s the boss? Acknowledge them. Ask if you can finish what you are doing or offer to go and see them as soon as possible.

Then there is the customer or client who suddenly drops in. The simplest thing you can do is let those on the front line (or alternatively those assisting you) know what your movements are. In essence, they can run interference.

If the customer is demanding, making a ruckus, or is down right rude – stop what you are doing, go and settle them down and let them know you will get back to them as soon as you can.

In case of something that requires urgent action on your part, take a deep breath, orientate yourself and then do what you need to do.

Remember – taking that deep breath, giving yourself five seconds to get your bearings and projecting a calm exterior will allow you to take control of the situation 😉

In that delightful story “Enlightenment,” Doctor Who comes up against the “Eternals,” immortals in time and space as opposed to the Doctor and his companions who are considered ephemera.

Back At The ESA New Norcia Site (Yarawindah) – The Bio-mass Project and The Space Race

In a previous post I posted about my involvement in the European Space Agency site and it’s expansion at the New Norcia locality in Western Australia. On Tuesday, some of my staff and I revisited the site to receive an update on key projects

The New Norcia site is responsible for two of the most important projects happening in the world right now. The first is calculating the amount of carbon the trees and shrubs on the planet as a whole can sequester in the battle against climate change and the establishment of settlements on the Moon and Mars.

L-R in front of the Bio-mass antenna base: Angela, Kim, Wayne, Rob, Silvio and Yours Truly

Rob and Angela are been responsible for the civil works across the ESA New Norcia site. Wayne, is the station contract engineer and one of the world’s foremost experts regarding the construction of space antennas. He is a West Aussie and respected the world over. Kim and Silvio are two of my key staff as the community development officer and the Manager Works and Services respectively.

Silvio peaking out from the top of the base of the bio-mass antenna

The bio-mass antenna will download data from orbiting satellites used for recording the planet’s vegetation. The results will be reported to the United Nations on a regular basis regarding which nation is clearing vegetation irresponsibly and hold them to account accordingly.

A view south east from the top of the bio-mass antenna base
Crushing the rocks across the bio-mass site. It’s important to get any rocks less than the size of a fist so that they won’t cause magnetic interference once the antenna is operational
NNO1 – In the upright position. The largest dish of its type in the world. It is used for a range of space missions including the tracking of deep space missions
L-R on the observation deck of NNO1: Kim, Wayne, Me and Colin (Acting Station Manager). A few moments later I was standing on the very edge of the observation deck when the dish changed position. It gave my pause for a second or two 😅
A view from the observation deck of NNO1 over the NNO3 site – where the next deep space antenna will soon be constructed at a cost of $68M
Some of the models of the rockets used by the ESA in the conference room at New Norcia. The Ariane 5 is about to undergo its last mission, where it will then be replaced by the Ariane 6. I would like one of these for my office 😉

2024 is going to be a big year regarding starting to understand the actual vegetation that is being impacted on Earth and the race for Space…

Should There Be Fun In The Workplace?

What happens when you actually take the time to find out what your workers think about how the workplace should be?

In developing what we call here the “workforce plan,” I used a tool called Culture Shaper. This is about assessing the climate of the organisation, and the sense of belonging and performance that staff have. In otherwords, who is the best fit for the outcomes you need to achieve.

One of the interesting outcomes in the report I received yesterday regarding the culture fit of the organisation was a very interesting statistic.

Do you want to know what it is?

Well, quite simply it was this: 50% of the organisation enjoy having fun as they work while the other 50% want to get on with their work without interruption and follow the rules.

Now as a CEO, this is an interesting result. So, who has it right in terms of how the workplace should be? Is it Google or is it Amazon?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: make the effort to understand the culture where you work. Even if it is a culture that you have set, like I did. There is clear scope for including a fun approach to work for those who need it and for those who don’t.

Make sure your directors, managers, supervisors and team leaders understand this. Afterall, they are the ones who will need to adjust the environment in consultation with their people to meet the outcomes.

Understand your people, your teams, your executive, your board.

I was in the historic town of York today for a meeting of the Avon Midland Country Zone…

Making Sense Of 2023 – Keeping It Simple

So, the first month for 2023 is all but finished. Now you need to plan for what comes next (or do you?)…

Whether it’s 2023 or some other time period going forward, there are three things to do to keep your hectic working life (or life in general) simple:

  • Implement how you will get the work you need to do underway in 2023. If you haven’t done this as yet, it’s not to late. See my post on how to do this here;
  • Focus next on your commitment to your family, friends and other pursuits, hobbies and interests you like to do. In otherwords, get a better handle on interacting with those closest to you and those things you enjoy. Markus and Micah seem to do this well. Visit their blog here;
  • Give yourself room to breath. It really is a myth you have to work around the clock, non-stop to achieve key outcomes, but we all do it. As fellow blogger Vanya pointed out in her recent blog this is what you really need to do each day. Click here

Australia Day 2023

So, last Thursday was Australia’s national holiday. Many events happen on such a holiday: the recognition of the Australian of the Year, the holding of citizenship ceremonies and the recognition of the citizen of the year in every local government around the nation, awarding of national honours, communities celebrating far and wide.

For those who don’t know, I had the responsibility for the Australia Day event this year in the Shire of Victoria Plains. Anyway, here is a video of yours truly opening the grand water slide at the Bolgart Sports Club…

Heading Home – Saying Goodbye to Tasmania

Waiting at Launceston Airport before flying home.

We have had a fabulous week with my sister and brother-in-law. So, there will be more photos to follow.

Platypus, Echidnas and Cataract Gorge. An Update On Our Travels This Week

On Wednesday we went to Beauty Point to the Platypus House. It was our intent to look for platypus in the local rivers, however, it’s still a bit tricky negotiating some spots after the October 2022 floods…

But first, Cataract Gorge

Cataract Gorge, Launceston – originally a spot full of alluvial gold. The water level re the recent floods was almost up to the ski lift height – about the height of the building in the middle of the picture in amongst the pine trees
The entrance to Cataract Gorge – you can take a ski lift across it and view it from the air
Walking down the entry slope
Walking along the southern side
A shot moving onto the suspension bridge
Looking west of the suspension bridge
A view to the north
The Faux Bois Shelter – an amazing piece of craftsmanship
The story of the Faux Bois Shelter
Heading back east to the entrance. Imagine standing here under raging flood waters…

Platypus House…

At Beauty Point, heading into Platypus House
Diane the Platypus. Her partner, Jupiter is in the large open air tank on the other side of this enclosure. Males tend to have a harem of up to 20 females in the wild 😝
Big Thomas, the Echidna. Australian anteaters live up to 30-40 years in the wild and up to 50 years in captivity. They eat 20% of their body weight each day. When we lived in Wyalkatchem many years ago, we had an echidna that would turn up and rummage through our front yard and then go to sleep every morning.
Big Thomas is a real character. He is happily lapping up his bug slurry
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