Tuesday, September 01, 2015


In my town there had been a long running dispute between the city and a major local body. Nothing moved. In response, I wrote this piece and was about to offer it to a local newspaper when, wonderfully, something happened. (The only addition to the original is the last line.)
It is to be hoped that the something, the seeming breakthrough, lasts and that both parties keep to their commitments.

here it is:

Leadership has been a consuming interest of mine much of my adult life. Here are some of my favourite definitions.

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists and when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves." Lao-Tzu

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” Walter Lippmann

“The essence of leadership is the acceptance of responsibility,” General Peter Cosgrove

“The best leaders know when to lead and when to follow,” Jon Doust

And now let’s take a look at a hypothetical example and imagine what an active leader might look like.

Let’s say, for example, in your local community there is a major dispute between an important group, like a major festival committee, and the local shire.

This dispute has gone on for years and the two central figures are men who don’t like each other and can often been seen and heard yelling as though the volume, or the consistency, will change the mind of their opponent.

It never works, just like it never works when you yell at your teenage son or in the face of someone who doesn’t speak your language.

In this situation, if one of them had a solid understanding of leadership he would approach the other and say: “You know what, Fred, we’re looking like a couple of boofs with no brains. What say we find a neutral space, go into a room, just the two of us, lock the door, and we sort this mess out. Time we took the bulldust by the horns, threw out the bath water, and came to grips with the meat and gristle. What do you say?”

And Fred, because his leadership gene has been challenged, responds positively. The two boofs go into a room and come out four hours later changed, transformed, with renewed vigour and the community celebrates and moves on to more pressing issues.

Yes, I know, it seems like a dream, but I have seen it happen.

OMG, I think it just happened again.