Friday, 21 July 2017

Leadership - In Everything We Do, All Of Us

It struck me recently how it is unfortunate we learn more Leadership, Corporate and Life lessons from the negative than we do from the positive.

I was reading an  article via LinkedIn by Marty Stowe, a North Carolina based VP of Client Services for TriNet.

He recounted a story when working as a sleep deprived over worked first year graduate auditor, of the behaviour of a Senior Partner towards him and his equally sleep deprived colleagues. The Senior Partner displayed a lack of empathy and an almost demeaning manner.

Marty Stowe vowed that day he would never do this if and when he became a Leader, and claims his subsequent success has in part been due to never wavering from the learnings of that day.

But what about Marty’s colleagues who were subjected to the same behaviour? I wonder what became of them?

Given we are inclined to copy the behaviours and examples of those in authority or who we perceive as being successful, it is reasonable to assume the majority of those exposed to the Partners behaviours that day reacted counter to Marty.

Given the above assumption is reasonable, the poor or negative behaviour by the Senior Partner form part of the legacy and behaviours of the majority of young professionals in the conversation  and therefore will magnify many times over as they too progress to roles of influence.

There is not much we can do about these people now.

There is much we can do, to better influence others.

Whether we like it or not, we are all in leadership roles. Some may be more obvious or formal by way of the careers we pursue and the titles we achieve. In many more cases, it is the role we have as Parents, as Partners, as Siblings and as Sons and Daughters. It may be in sporting teams, service clubs, charitable activities and as volunteers.

In all roles in life, it is easy to criticise, it is better to comment constructively; it is easy to point out what is being done incorrectly, it is better to help another or show another person the better way to do it; It is easy to tell, it is better to teach.

We all lead, we all influence.
We can do so constructively or destructively.
We can change the world around us, a hundred at a time.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Gender Reporting - It Has to Change

I wonder just what progress we have made these last 50 plus years.

Before I continue, I must first say I don’t think I have ever watched an episode of Dr Who.

I do know there is a time travel machine and I it is called a Tardis.

My understanding is the Doctor is not human as such and has an assistant who provides interpretation of Human behaviour for the Doctor.

I am broadly aware that the Doctor is able to, and I think needs to, “resurrect” from time to time. My take on it too is the Doctor can resurrect to any earthly being.

I get there are Doctor Who fanatics and each new Doctor announcement is the subject of much speculation and excitement followed by passionate discussion as to how the new Actor will uniquely interpret the role.

Jodie Whittaker was announced this week as the Actor to interpret the Doctor in the next series.

I would like to think we have progressed to a point where the subsequent discussion concerned acting skills and ability and the qualities likely to be brought to the role. However, I do fully understand that the discussion is dominated by matters of Gender and I reluctantly accept we are not yet at a point where Gender is not relevant.

Progress has been made in matters of Gender equity. We do have Women as leaders in industry, politics, sport and the arts, be it a less than proportional representation.

Despite this, or I fear because of this, there is still much every day violence inflicted upon women and severe suppression continues in some cultures.

Sexual violence continues at alarming levels and domestic violence towards women seems to be increasing.

Women are exposed to levels of objectification that Men cannot comprehend and this is perpetuated in our media and popular culture.

A simply horrible demonstration of the mountain society still has to climb in the way we behave towards and represent women, was the reporting of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor Who by the United Kingdom’s Sun Newspaper.

The Sun went through Whittaker’s movie and TV catalogue and extracted still photos from her work – photos of scenes in which she appeared naked, and published these photos.

What possible relevance can this have? 
Are we not meant to be living in an increasingly educated, understanding, equal and tolerant society, or is our civilisation actually declining?
There is much more I would like to say but a combination of disappointment, despair and anger leaves me speechless, for now.

In the meantime, I felt this to be an insightful article about the matter.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Creating Change in Academia

I attended the Graduation Ceremony for The University of Queensland Law and Business Faculty today.

It was a fully ticketed event and a crowd primarily of Family packed in to the UQ Centre.

Queensland University takes great pride in its standing in the world referring to itself as being a Top 100 University and a Top 50 University for those with 10,000 students or more.

Its traditions are further on show by way of the quite stunning sandstone buildings.

However, I was both surprised and impressed with the overt ceremonious nature of the Graduation Ceremony.

It was just a little bit “Royal” although there was no playing of the National Anthem.

The University Senate paraded in full regalia and took up their places on the stage with the Chancellor taking centre stage in the “big chair’.

Every speaker "tipped their lid" to the Chancellor prior to speaking. Very traditional indeed.

I am not necessarily one for such overt Pomp and Ceremony however, the speeches were all of a digestible length and all delivered a message that was practical, relevant and respectful.

The graduating students' were the stars of the show and were definitely made to feel they were a part of something special. They had good reason to be proud of their achievements’, University and Alumni.

A quintet provided a musical interlude and the programme concluded with an exit parade by the Senate.

I suspect the ceremony we witnessed was very much as it would have been some 100 years ago.

I did however find myself being just a little amused by the new marketing theme of Queensland University which is “Create Change”.

But not in the Law and Business School.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Being Green Should Be Easier (and Red or Blue too)

Larissa Waters was born in Canada where her Australian Parents who were then studying and working.

She left as an 11-month-old baby and has never again set foot on Canadian soil.

At age 21, she had the choice to take up Canadian citizenship and did not exercise this choice, effectively confirming her “Australianism”.

Her parents were of the opinion this was all she needed to do in order to be considered Australian, and at the time of her birth, it was. Canadian Citizenship law changed a week after she was born.

In good faith, on behalf of the Australian Green Party Larissa Waters stood for election to the Senate in 2011 and was successful. She was again successful at the 2016 election.

She resigned today having discovered that at age 21, instead of simply not taking up Canadian Citizenship, she should have formally denounced it.

The eligibility rules for Federal Parliamentary Candidates are clearly defined as part of our Constitution. They even make sense, although arguably less so now than when they were drafted over 116 years ago.

Larissa Waters should not have stood for election without first denouncing her Canadian dual citizenship.

However, I don’t think anyone is suggesting her nomination for election was in anything other than Good Faith.

Despite being ineligible, her Senate vote has been cast in literally hundreds of cases (in good faith) and will stand.

The Greens will wear criticism over her situation, particularly as it is their second such case in a matter of days. Their Federal Parliamentary Leader Richard Di Natale, has already said the Party will revise its Governance processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

In my opinion, the Australian Electoral Commission should be charged with confirming the eligibility of all candidates before they appear on a ballot paper. No candidate should be able to present to the electorate seeking our vote without first being independently confirmed as eligible.

At the last election, former Australian Democrats Leader, Andrew Bartlett was in second position on the Greens Senate ticket in Queensland. It would be reasonable to assume he would have been in first place had Waters been discovered as ineligible. Given the low appeal former Australian Democrats have when running for office under the banner of another Party (think Cheryl Kernot), I doubt he would have attracted the vote Larissa Waters did.

We have had two Green Senators resign within a week, both because they were ineligible to stand in the first place. Both have served terms in excess of 6 years and had significant influence on the floor of the Senate.

Laws have been passed, Bills amended and reforms rejected on their vote.

This is too important to leave to individuals to understand the nuisances of the citizenship details of their country of birth.

The Australian Electoral Commission needs to assume responsible for confirming the eligibility of all candidates and resourced accordingly so they can do so.

We, the Electorate, deserve nothing less.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Tie Debate - To Wear or not to Wear?

The humble necktie.

There are several opinions as to the origin of the tie including ‘blaming’ China’s first emperor, Shih Huang Ti for its existence.

The popular theory is the tie as we know it dates back to the French King, Louis XIII and the time of the 30-year war (1618 – 1648).

Sales of ties in the United States peaked in 1995 at US$1.8 billion but have since steadily declined with sales now struggling to top US$400 million.

One of the bastions of proper dress standards is Investment Bank JP Morgan. They relaxed their dress code in 2016, allowing employees to use their best judgement depending on their daily activities, who they were meeting with and where.

It is fascinating in a way that JP Morgan has even seen a need to continue until now with a dress code. After all, they delegate responsibility and authority to individuals to make decisions on behalf of clients and owners worth tens of millions of dollars a day, but haven’t trusted them to select the correct clothes to wear while doing it.

For perhaps the last 10 years, I have not been required to wear a tie in my day to day employment. However, I have elected to keep wearing my colourful piece of silk and have done so for several reasons.

I have never found wearing a tie to be uncomfortable. Since primary school, wearing a tie has been a daily ‘thing’ and besides, it allows some expression of personality and individuality in a male business wardrobe dominated by dark blues and greys.

More so though, I have always been amused by those who routinely do not wear a tie, except for certain meetings. (I exclude client meeting where a tie may be decreed mandatory by the employer).

The usual non-tie wearer will make an assessment as to the relative importance of the meeting they are going to and decide if a tie is needed, then remove it on return and proceed to their next meeting.

What does this all mean?

Perhaps if the tie on, tie off person meets with you and does not “tie up” they are inferring you are not important to them.

Alternatively, does it reflect their lack of self-esteem and confidence that they feel a need to put on what is essentially a false persona by wearing a tie to the CEO discussion or Board Committee meeting?

If only everyone would be authentic in the work place. To my fellow Males, wear a tie or don’t wear a tie, but whatever you choose, do it always and by doing so, you will be respecting yourself and all those you work with.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Prioritising the Environment and the ABC - Liberal/National Party

In the interests of transparency, I make the following declaration:

I am an avid listener to the various incarnations of ABC Radio including Radio National, News Radio, Local Radio, Classical FM and Triple J.

On the rare occasions I watch TV, it will most likely be one of the ABC channels or SBS.

The various range of ABC Broadcasting services appeals to me for more than just the lack of advertisements.

My perception is the ABC produces content devoid of commercial bias. There are no financial or advertising revenues to consider when reporting or investigating a matter.

There are constant accusations of political bias however given that all sides of politics make this accusation from time to time, I tend to be amused more than concerned by it.

My view is, the so called 6 cents a day per tax payer that funds the ABC is money well spent.

I also understand and respect there are alternative views and I certainly see their merit.

Until yesterday, I had not realised what a huge and pressing issue Federal funding of the ABC is to Queenslanders.

This weekend, the Liberal/National Party held their Queensland State Conference. I assumed this to be a conduit for informed and robust discussion contributing to policy positions always with the best interests of Queensland at front of mind. I also assumed the agenda would reflect the big State issues.

In addition to the essentials of Health and Education, I would see items including Public Transport Infrastructure, Conservation of the Barrier Reef, Sustainable Primary Production, Power Generation, Regional Employment and Roads and Ports as being big tickets items. There are only two days so concentration was surely on matters Queensland.

Not quite.

My understanding is the Conference debated a motion that the ABC should be privatised. It failed.

But there was a backup motion (as I understand it) that funding for ABC and in particular ABC News be withdrawn. This also failed.

Fortunately, attention then turned to matters of the climate and environment.

Queensland does have several pressing environmental matters requiring attention so this is a topic worthy of proper policy consideration. The two that come first to mind are the Adani Mine proposal and the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. If time permits, throw Coal Seam Mining in to the mix too.

But no.

Concerning matters environmental the motion was that Australia should withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

Seriously, the weekend Liberal/National Party conference debated and voted on a motion for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

Again, I preface my comments by saying “as I understand it” the motion was defeated only after two past Party Presidents each declared they are Climate Change Sceptics however encouraged a “no” vote because to vote yes would embarrass the Prime Minister.

A yes vote may have embarrassed the Prime Minister, but not nearly as much as it would have embarrassed the Liberal/National Party in Queensland and dare I say, embarrassed many Queenslanders and Queensland residents.

And in less than 12 months’ time the LNP will be presenting to the Electorate as the alternative Government.


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Eggs and Chickens - Universe or Consciousness

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

A question as old as can be, and as relevant today as it ever was, if in fact it has ever been relevant.

We read about, hear about being truly open so as to allow the “Universe to Deliver”, but what or who is the Universe?
I am in the process of developing several concepts, some or all of which will go to market.

Accordingly, I am challenged to expand my horizons and my sphere of thinking, to understand my market and position a product or service in such a way its value is also be perceived as “value”.

With this at front of mind, it has been fascinating, if even a little eerie how many times appropriate subject matter has crossed my path.

And crossing my path in the usual or traditional manner and also in almost random or freakish ways.

For example, I received an offer of a free one-month on-line trial to a quality newspaper and I decided to accept. The number of articles being featured that are relevant to my current activities is quite amazing.  

Some recent blog posts were shared on Twitter attracting several new followers some of whom I followed back. Some of their content and links posted have been inciteful, interesting and relevant.

I flicked the radio on during the week at a time I would not usually do so and, a highly relevant interview had commenced.
My Medium daily recommended articles has also contained an extraordinary number of relevant topics.

And there are several other similar examples.

However, are these examples of the Universe Delivering or is it simply my conscious awareness being more attuned to this subject matter because of its relevance at this point of time? Would it always have been there, just not noticed by me?

So, is it the chicken or the egg, the Universe or heightened consciousness of subject matter always available?

Maybe it is both, with one simply following the other.