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.
On Thursday 4 June we were delighted to have the company of Louise Murphy, Bushfire Relief Recovery Coordinator at Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and NSW Peer Support Coordinator at St John Ambulance. Louise is a registered Nurse and healthcare educator who brings a wealth of experience, academic research and compassion to her work. Louise joined the LIP on Zoom to give her presentation on Wellbeing and to answer some of our questions on the subject.
Louise’s presentation addressed:
Stress and managing your stress
“Good relationships with others is likely the single most important factor contributing to individual wellbeing and life satisfaction”
Thankyou to Louise and to ISLHD for sharing your time with us, this presentation addressed many issues that are of immediate concern to the cohort, in workplaces and life in general. Keep those buckets full of things that light you up!
Vote of thanks by Lee Vale.
Posted by Beth
It was a pleasure to welcome Dr David M Williams AM to our Zoom conference to present the leadership philosophy he pioneered: ‘The 7 Axioms of Leadership’.
David is an eminent leader in the Illawarra in both the business and community sectors. He is CEO of MWLP - a not for profit organisation focused on supporting youth in their personal and professional career development by assisting young people make the successful transition from school to work. He was awarded a Member Order of Australia (AM) in 2014 in recognition of his countless contributions to the Illawarra region and was the first Doctor of Business Administration to graduate from the University of Wollongong.
Developed for Dr Williams’ doctoral thesis, his studies focused on the 7 things that successful leaders must consider:
Illustrated by fascinating anecdotes from David’s life and career, he leaves the impression of a man who lives, and Leads, his most authentic life.
Following the presentation we held a Q&A with Dr Williams:
If context is critical, how can leadership thrive in uncertainty, ie COVID times?
David refers to the importance of developing foresight and asking: What are the things that I can do, how can I assist, what things do I have hidden away ‘in my box’ that I can bring out in this unforeseeable situation?
How do we make our teams feel safe and secure in uncertain times?
David gives the example of how he shouted his team a takeout meal during lockdown to lift morale and let them know that they are valued.
In a crisis why do some leaders ‘drop the reins’ or lose their way once out of their comfort zones?
David uses his tent-pole analogy to illustrate how a situation such as COVID can expose weaknesses in leadership skills – for example capability or adaptability. Some leaders find it impossible to operate outside their established way of doing things.
[referring to the Leadership Tent] David, if intellect provides the guy ropes, is it possible to provide good leadership coverage with just character and intellect?
No, I don’t think you can! The character will hold up but the guy ropes provide the support, and ultimately the supporting attributes will be necessary.
Do you think that our political leaders (or some of them) have learned to embrace their Authenticity during the COVID crisis?
No! They have to stick to the party line and it’s extremely difficult for them to express their authenticity. They risk being cast out if they step outside the party rules.
Some of our leader have blind-spots in terms of skills but are very good at surrounding themselves with people who plug those gaps, is that part of a leadership skill-set?
Yes, one of the ‘guy rope skills’ is recognising your own deficiencies and finding and trusting people who are good at those things.
Who is a leader that you aspire to and why?
I really admire Sir William Deane, Governor General 1996-2001, for his humility. “When the Olympic flame arrived in Australia in 2000 there was a crowd waiting to see it and instead of whisking it away in the waiting car, he walked among the crowd with the flame in a lamp so that the people could see it up close before handing it over to the officials. One example among many of his humility and authenticity as a leader.”
Posted by Beth
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.