Some Reflections on Leadership – By My Former Staff!

Today, I thought I would share with you some of the insights my staff had about me when I was the CEO at the Shire of Lake Grace. These insights are taken from a book that the staff compiled and presented to my family and I at “our” farewell. I hope you don’t find this post all that narcissistic of me!

Excerpt From: From the staff of the Shire of Lake Grace. “TO SEAN.” Apple Books.

Comments by Lee Ann

The covering photo to the book presented by Shire of Lake Grace staff. The photographer is Jeanette who was my PA when I was CEO at the Shire.

“Conversations with Sean –

‘Those ‘blanks’ within your conversations were for staff to exercise grey matter and use initiative – that ‘Can do’ attitude.

Those ‘pauses’ before a conversation were a preliminary warning that the conversation had more ‘you will do’ or ‘this needs to happen’ theme.

Those ‘sitting back in chair with raised eyebrows look’ were a sign of not liking what you have just heard or been challenged by.

Those ‘silent moments’, sometimes very long, were signs of frustration and/or thinking and a self-assurance of making sure you chose your words very carefully.

Those discussions while sitting down in the lounge chairs in your office were signs of a serious nature but also a sign that views were to be shared and respected.

Those times of unpacking the staff ‘gift boxes’ ready for distribution, unleashed the ‘child’ within.

Those times when taken to lunch were signs of an unspoken, ‘thank you’

Observations of Sean –

You do relax – you play the guitar (I have witnessed this on a late night shopping evening otherwise I would not believe it)”

“Your ‘forever thinking’ mind has elevated the Shire of Lake Grace into being known as a ‘progressive shire’

Your strategic planning is second to none – however take care not to make it work against you

Working with Sean –

A challenge – a direction – a journey – a choice”

Comments by Jeanette

The Shire Office – Lake Grace

“Sean … Its been such a privilege to work with you and be on board alongside you on the journey that has seen this Shire grow as an organisation and at this point in time be very well positioned for the future … we have come such a long way from where we were 3 years ago when you first arrived. ”

“Before you even arrived you told me how you liked to be organised and that you had no time for any nonense … how true were those words … your organisational skills on all levels never cease to be a stand out for me and your no nonsense approach is great to work with.”

“Your leadership reminds me very much of these words …

Can you mediate emotional issues without taking sides or picking favourites?
Can you breathe freely and remain relaxed even in the presence of passionate fears and desires?
Are your own conflicts clarified?
Is your own house clean?

Can you be gentle with all factions and lead the group without dominating?
Can you remain silent and receptive, no matter what issues are raised?
Can you know what is emerging, yet keep the peace while others discover themselves?

Learn to lead in a nourishing manner.
Learn to lead withour being possessive.
Learn to be helpful without taking credit.
Learn to lead without coersion.
You can do this if you remain unbiased, clear, and down-to-earth.
… Lao Tzu

Your style is a perfect fit for all of those things and we have been so lucky to have you here to show us how … thank you so much.”

A Final Thought

As a leader always look up, scry far and wide, but never ever look down on those who are working with you and remember to embrace the pillars, the diamonds within your organisation!

In some respects, it is easier being a leader than a manager. They are two very different things. A manager is concerned with the technical side of the operation – the doing, the widgets. A leader is concerned with the well-being of those who work for them and providing a pathway regarding achieving endless possibilities!

Both managers and leaders need to be transparent in their actions. I was never perfect, but I always made sure I listened or came back to, and ensured, what was required regarding an uncomfortable or serious course of action.

Photo by Pressmaster on

I have been very fortunate throughout my career as a CEO to meet and work with the most amazing people. The one thing I practised day in and day out at the most senior level was leadership. I had executives, managers and supervisors to manage everything else 😊 If I can do it, you can too!

19 Comments on “Some Reflections on Leadership – By My Former Staff!”

  1. Such an amazing tribute! I love what they said about your forever thinking mind… you are a true wise man indeed & people can sense it even online… we are also happy to “meet” the non-CEO side of you… Keep inspiring people, Sean!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s so clear that you left the place and the people better than you found them, and that they loved working with you. ❤️ Thank you for sharing!! I feel like I somehow got to work with you vicariously, a little bit, reading their tribute! 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, KFG for such wonderful comments. I am still in contact with some of them to this day. The staff even made a presentation to go with the book. The opening comment was “I am not a people person.” that was the first thing I said to all staff when I first arrived and they never forgot it – it became an in-house joke. When I first got there, the turnover rate was almost 40%. Within 12 months I had reduced it to 16% and so on.

      It was an amazing time, and we did great things together. Managing one town or city is difficult enough, but it was four towns and we made a difference. The communities even gave me a gold plate and so on (just like the ones you see displayed in the office of many a k-drama).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see how your open remarks would have left a deep impression, especially since you strike as quite the people person – just with a very organized and systematic mind to go with! 😃

        The tale of 4 towns and a gold plate! Sounds like an intriguing drama title right there! 🤣🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      • Love the name of the drama 🤣 We do have what is called the gold plate awards for the best restaurants over here! The great thing was I actually had a wonderful cook on staff. She made the most amazing meals which allowed me to entertain dignitaries and others who always said they had a great time and would come back (and they did) 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so cool! It’s wonderful to see the details of what your staff appreciate about your leadership. I must admit I cracked up a bit picturing the “sitting back in chair with raised eyebrows look,” but still, it’s a gentle yet clear nonverbal feedback!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Greetings from Florida in the USA! What an amazing way to be sent off after what sounds like a successful and rewarding career in leadership. I truly agree with you that leading in a ¨nourishing¨ way always makes for a better team and a deeper connection with your followers and employees. What would you say is the one most important habit you practiced as a leader to your employees?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greetings to you too! Nice to have a visitor drop by from Florida. For me the most important habit I practised was inclusiveness. The old command and concrete jungle style of leadership was so damaging because many were excluded. Knowledge was seen as power. So, as I went through this (and I am amazed there are some organisations still like this), I vowed never to have mushrooms work for me. What I know, they know (excluding certain sensitive matters of course). When presenting the budget and strategic roll out each year I made sure they understood what was in the pipeline, where they fitted in, and that I and the organisation could not achieve anything without their contribution. When staff made presentations to the executive, I made sure this process was as non threatening as possible (again I know what it’s like to be shot down before you even start!). There are so many ways inclusiveness can be undertaken. Each organisation I ever lead was different, so I always tried to discover the right “vibe” and then work on an inclusiveness strategy from there.


  5. When I was teaching, I had some really great principals who made teachers feel like we were all on the same team. A couple of others were autocrats. The type of leader in an organization makes a huge difference in job satisfaction and the success of the organization. Your post tells the story of someone who knows how to lead!

    Liked by 1 person

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