This Tuesday 3 November we held our long-awaited Leadership Talk with Liz Cosson, Secretary of the Department of Veteran's Affairs, via Zoom. When our planned trip to Canberra was cancelled in March due to COVID-19, we worked hard with Liz's Office to make sure LIP still had a chance to hear from this remarkable leader, and the opportunity to ask her a few questions.
Liz is a retired Major General of the Australian Army, so it was a huge honour for LIP member and ex-serviceperson Rod Clark to be spokesperson for our session. We were treated to a presentation of Liz's leadership history, peppered with fascinating anecdotes from her career in the military and learnings from her 40 years of leadership experience.
Thanks to Liz and her staff for making this event possible. Honourable mentions also to Rod for stepping up and making us all proud and to Stephanie Hummerston for her Vote of Thanks.
On 20 October TIC held it's penultimate Dinner Meeting of 2020 at the Novotel Wollongong. Present were current LIP members Jake Pearson of Interchange Illawarra, Zahra Shahbazian of UOW and James Welch of Access Law Group, and they were joined by Bethan Farmer of RDA Illawarra. Thanks to Graham Lancaster of TIC for giving LIP a shoutout in his President's address.
The guest speaker was Dan Hunt - former NRL star and founder of The Mental Health Movement. Dan spoke with passion and conviction about his struggles with mental ill health, about breaking down barriers and the code of silence that surrounds particularly men, in that situation, and passed on some practical tools we can use to keep on top of our own mental health and that of those around us. Bravo Dan!
We were joined for another in our series of Leadership Talks by Oscar Gregory, to discuss 'Leadership Through Change and Adversity'.
This is a topic that is of immediate concern to many of our emerging leaders, and Oscar was the obvious choice to grill on the subject. Oscar has a long and storied career in the Illawarra steel industry, which has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the last 40 years. He compared what we are going through we now, with the coronavirus crisis, to the recession in the 1980s, and the GFC of 2009, when he was an executive at Bluescope Steel.
Throughout our discussion with Oscar, for which LIP members we encouraged to prepare 'searching' questions, the themes that stood out were his humility and his respect for the people he managed. Memorably, he reminded us that in a crisis "There are no bad ideas" - that sometimes the most effective strategies can come from unexpected quarters and for this reason it is crucial that the whole workforce is engaged in finding solutions. On a practical level Oscar gave us lots of great advice about cost saving, and smart reallocation of resources both human and material. But he acknowledges that it is your people that will get you through it - be transparent, be honest, be visible and nurture a culture of respect.
What were the critical items you had to made relatively quick decisions on? (Production rate, inventory, acceptable losses, etc.)?
What strategies did you use to maintain morale during this period?
In hindsight what would you have done differently?
How can leaders effectively engage their teams and staff in making difficult business decisions, and get their buy in to safely and effectively take action even when it may see them out of a job?
What do you see as being a major change to business operations that is required (now or later) as a result of Covid, and do you have any tips for helping us lead our teams through instituting such a change?
Posted by Beth
The Leadership Illawarra Program is proud to have University of Wollongong Sydney Business School as one of our partners (along with The Illawarra Connection and Regional Development Australia – Illawarra), and one of the numerous benefits of this partnership is access to the University’s teaching resources. There are three UOW Masterclasses over the two-year course of the LIP and Saturday marked the final of these for the 2018-20 LIP: ‘Community and Engagement’ with Belinda Gibbons (the other two are ‘Governance’ and ‘Leadership’ – both of which are eligible for credit points towards a future MBA at UOW).
As is customary at the moment, we congregated on Zoom (special mention here to Belinda and the UOW team for the seamless delivery across multiple platforms throughout the session, including Google Jamboard and Mentimeter).
This was an interactive, discursive class focused on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – how they align with our personal values, our organisation’s values, how the two intersect and the challenges that exist in implementing them.
On the subject of Engagement we were encouraged to think about the ‘who, what and how’ we engage in our organisations, how different organisations decide on their individual engagement strategies and most difficult to answer of all: ‘Is it enough?’
The subject of philanthropy and corporate giving was discussed, and it was fascinating to hear about this subject from the point of view of both the donor (represented by our corporate LIP members) and the recipient (our NFP members). Having established that it’s not straightforward or simply ‘transactional’, it led to a discussion on the importance of value-alignment in these relationships, and the multifarious benefits of ‘giving’ to all parties (whether that be cash or voluntary hours).
Grateful thanks to Belinda and the team at UOW who made this masterclass possible, and if you want to cheer yourself up about the state of the world, click here and complete the short questionnaire – you will surprise yourself!
Posted by Beth
When friend-of-LIP Susan Wallis put out a call for volunteers for her new employer Good360 Australia, LIP was quick to respond! The demand for packers at their Smithfield warehouse is higher than ever, because of the greater needs of communities due to COVID-19. Raychel Davis, Stacey Corbeski and Jake Pearson joined Susan on the floor to smash out a record 10 pallets of individual care packages that will be distributed to those in need.
Well done all, and thanks to Susan and Good360 for the incredible work that you do!
If you are interested in volunteering, here's how.
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.