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What we need is leadership

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Recently I have made two speeches, which have influenced what I’m about to write. The underlying motivation for what follows is a reaction to the frustration of wanting more out of the leaders who are supposed to be leading the country.

Sure, the hung parliament has made leadership hard — a government with a clear majority would have dumped Craig Thomson and cast him adrift, the Greens might have been managed more effectively and the independents would have been ignored.

Who knows, maybe the Prime Minister might have chosen not to break her promise on “no carbon tax” and we would have had more respect for her, but history has put more pressure on Julia Gillard than she would have liked and unfortunately, looking at her popularity, she has not measured up.

Taking a walk

John Maxwell, the author of the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership once told me that if you think you’re a leader but you turn around and no one is following, then you’re not a leader — you’re just going for a walk!

The backbone

In a speech I did for a small business group in Brisbane, there was not widespread bleating about wanting governments to do something for them but there was a general sense that they didn’t want their leaders making business life harder than it needed to be.

I feel as though Labor in Canberra have underestimated the role of leadership and the connection with the so-called “backbone of the country” — small business. I know these guys aren’t engaged because there is a new Small Business Minister, Brendan O’Connor, and he has not even tried to get exposure in my columns on the Yahoo!7 website, my Weekend Australian column or my own websites — or

I suspect he hasn’t contacted me because he has nothing to say and that’s really sad. Even if he thought I was biased and anti-Labor, and I’m not, he should be trying to connect with his constituency, who he’s supposed to be leading!

Business tips

The other speech was for a business graduates’ ceremony at UTS where I was asked to do the occasional address. I reckon what I said has relevance for both business employees and business owners and so I would like to share it with you.

This is what I said:

This is a very important day in your life and the lives of your families. You have attended one of the best universities in the country. Your faculty has a wonderful reputation within the business sector and your highly respected teachers have taught you the one important gift that a university education bestows — the ability to ask questions and find answers to solve problems.

Along the way you have learnt the secrets of success. We know that because you’re here today — graduating.

So what now? It’s time to take these secrets and build not just a successful career, but importantly a successful life that will bring you, and the people you care about, sustained happiness.

But of course, there are many secrets of success and so let me share with you the ones I have learnt from over 30 years of talking to and learning from the greats in business, from Virgin’s Richard Branson, Aussie Home Loans’ John Symond and even racehorse trainer and entrepreneur Gai Waterhouse.

I think the important ones include:

  • Dream big — have a big vision
  • Create a plan and enlist giants in your life
  • Be committed to your vision and the plan
  • Have a fanatical interest in self-leadership
  • And do it for others — your family, the people who work with you and those who come along on your business-building journey.
Dream big

On dreaming big, the founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Nabi Saleh had the vision to be a globally significant coffee business when he started with two outlets in Sydney. He says when you set high goals for yourself, even if you don’t get there, where you end up will be huge.

Talk to experts

On giants, Dr. Fiona Wood created the plastic spray-on skin that helped the Bali bombing victims and that product was the basis of a publicly listed company, of which she was the first CEO.  

When I asked her how she did that with no corporate experience, she said she surrounded herself with great people and quoted the great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, who once said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. Get people in your life who will show you stuff to build up your competitive advantage.

Get committed

On commitment I love the Paul Cave story. He fought governments, public servants and trade unions for over a decade to put Bridge Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All successful entrepreneurs are never part-timers — they live and breathe their dream 24/7 but they still can be ‘normal’ for family reasons.

Lead yourself

On self-leadership, Maxwell says he was shocked when his mentor — see, he had a giant  — asked him what his plan for self-improvement was and he was embarrassed when he admitted he didn’t have one. The greats in business are objective about themselves and either strengthen up their weaknesses or get others to lend a hand where they need help.

Final point

Finally, the greats don’t do it for money but money follows like applause for a job really well done. Sure, they like money and they can use it but it’s about making the dream come true for themselves and the people they love and serve.

And by the way, these people aren’t just family and friends, it also includes the people they work with and develop.

Be committed to a big dream

The greats in any area of success from the law to business to the arts to sport develop a deep conviction about their dream and Muhammad Ali really nailed it when he said: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen!”

Be committed to a worthwhile, BIG dream. Believe in it and make it a deep conviction and things will happen.

This is where governments of all persuasion miss the point. They have to become mentors of the nation — giants if you will — not political pygmies driven by self-interest, fear and survival.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Published on: Wednesday, June 06, 2012

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