Down here in Australia they are as apathetic to politicians as we Brits are. But 100% do have to vote. Even if sometimes the voting system means they vote for all 99 candidates in sequence and some weird guys get in – apparently even the Monster Raving Loony party could get seats in Victoria!

Our Chief Customer Officer Forum ended its 10th year in Australia with a flourish. Key note speaker Jeff Kennett is a controversial figure. But even his opponents like what he did to take the state of Victoria from dwindling to top of the tree. As Premier he slashed and burned to reduce a massive deficit, then he put Melbourne on the map. Taking it to the most desirable place to live in the world, with major events such as F1 and the tennis open leading the way.

It’s some time since his shock loss of 3rd term. Since then he has run a successful Aussie footie club and built a major charity, Beyond Blue, aimed at depression. Before politics he was a successful entrepreneur. With local, state and central government, duplication abounds. So for a population only approaching 20m in total, across a vast geography,  you’d be forgiven for thinking “The best politician is no politician”. But Jeff came over as better than that…..

So what is his view on leadership success regardless of environment, private, public, commercial, not for profit?

Jeff described it in 5 fingers:

1) Vision – a long term point of view and where you are going in it. A vision is an imperative. Something that means something, that changes lives. Something that matters personally.

2) Team – assemble the team of people to deliver that vision. Teams deliver, not individuals. Don’t recruit clones, you want people who challenge and feedback. Select for ability – of them and their combination in the team.

3) Strategy – is what the team develops to achieve the vision. It is not what you tell them it is. You test and learn, test and learn to develop strategies.

4) Consistency of emphasis – being continually on message counts. Reminding people of the what and the why. Not confusing people, but keeping the focus on execution of the strategy.

5) Reinforcement and reward – that we have and we are achieving what we set out to do. and the personal satisfaction that comes from that. It’s important that people see and believe that the leader was right, if they are to follow further.

All simple messages and easy to remember. Self evident and obvious points to some, but insightful and incisive to all, including experienced leaders.

Melbourne even has emergency pie shops
Melbourne even has emergency pie shops

And to add a twist, Jeff also emphasised the need to be selfish about something: your own health matters. And if you are selfish about that, taking time for it, you will become genuinely interested in the health of those around you. Being fit, not over tired, sharp – it is part of being a great leader. Would you follow a knackered, grumpy leader?

A fascinating session from someone who took the short term pain to get the long term gain. Take a look at the top ten cities here that Melbourne now beats as the best city in the world.


PS I was going to add a note of consolation, re better weather, to those in New South Wales but since it’s rained all afternoon as I write this in Sydney, I won’t!





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