Women in the commercial seafood industry - Part 2​

Margaret Stevenson, a Queensland-based commercial fishing industry leader, has been active in the industry  for 30 years. In the second article of a two-part series, Eric Perez talked to Margaret about her leadership pathway and Margaret shares her advice for women leaders in seafood.Eric Perez: I have had the great fortune to work and learn from outstanding women leaders in the Queensland and broader Australian seafood industry. This article explores the leadership path of one such leader, Margaret Stevenson. In addition to her work in a commercial fishing business, Margaret is the Queensland Director of the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) and a deputy coordinator of the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) net fishery committee.EP: Tell me about your journey to being the deputy coordinator of the QSIA net fishery committee?Margaret Stevenson: I had attended a number of different consultation meetings with fisheries and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as well as QSIA and WINSC. I had expressed my views a number of times on various issues affecting net fishers and seemed to have gained some respect as someone who was able to express myself fairly well and who understood a lot about the industry in general as well as some net fishery specific issues. I had been nominated as the Flood Recovery Officer after the 2010-11 floods in Queensland and had conversed with many different fishermen throughout the state in that role.As a result, I was encouraged to submit an expression of interest to be a member of a group to attempt a new format of industry representation for the net fishers. From there I was invited to be a participant on the new net committee and was voted as chair. After a year I stepped aside and nominated a younger member of the committee as chair and became one of two deputy chairs. EP: What do you think are some significant barriers to female leadership in seafood?MS: Initially, I think the men lacked confidence in women’s understanding of day-to-day fishing but I feel like that is changing. I now get phone calls and messages from fishermen asking me my opinion about some issues so my opinions now seem to be respected more.On the other hand, in spite of governments’ supposed inclusiveness towards gender equality I think they play politics in speaking with females rather than necessarily taking their comments seriously.The first time I ever spoke with a fisheries minister I was in attendance at a meeting, in a supportive role to my husband, on dealing with the issue of the announcement of a ban on netting for spotted mackerel. In spite of the fishermen in attendance, the minister pointed to me and said, “I want to hear your story” and showed no interest in what the men had to say throughout the entire meeting. I was thrown in at the deep end in being a spokesperson for the fishermen that day. Fortunately, I had done my homework and knew the issue inside out. I had prepared a folder of evidence supporting our arguments and claims as I anticipated that my husband would speak on the issue. Therefore, I spoke with sure knowledge of the issue almost as if I had actually been on the boat myself for years. At least that is what the men said afterwards! I felt that the minister expected me to not really know much and to stumble and complain about how I could buy Christmas presents for my children due to the ban. However, if that is the case, the minister did not get what was expected.In the eyes of the public, I am not sure what the perception of women in the industry is. People have told me in person that I explain things well on Facebook and that they support me and want me to keep going with it, even though they do not necessarily say so in comments on social media itself.EP: What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?MS: Having a seafood industry to lead. It is very evident that unless the public actually start to speak up for their own seafood supplies it will not be long before the public will not “own” their seafood or fisheries resources any more.EP: How do you manage work/life balance?MS: With great difficulty at times, especially when another discussion paper is released hot on the heels of a previous one as has been happening almost constantly since I became involved almost twenty years ago. It was especially hard when I had young babies to care for as well as normal work responsibilities such as bookwork, business activity statements, wages and purchasing. I felt it interfered severely in our personal lives simply due to the amount of time required on a constant basis to deal with so much additional paperwork.I found I concentrated best late at night when there were no other distractions and interruptions but that then interfered with my sleep habits and contributed to health issues from such prolonged stress and pressure and sleep deprivation. The worst of it seemed to be required of us right when our children also needed greater care and attention. I find these days, I sometimes have to walk away from the computer and work in my garden for a few days to find some balance and restore some feeling of sanity, peace and clarity However, this means I lose touch with what is happening for a short time.EP: From your experience, what advice would you give to female leaders in seafood?MS: My advice would be:Prioritise your family and relationships and, for the sake of your relationships, face industry challenges together.Listen and learn as much as you can so you can get a grip on processes, practices and procedures so that you can discuss these issues in any situation.Join industry or sector groups and encourage your family to do the same.Do not be afraid to volunteer for roles within industry organisations as early as possible.Participate in various networking opportunities.If at all possible, attend the annual conferences. I have gained much at the ones I have been to and wish I could have attended more.Try to do better than I have done with balancing life with work by delegating set times, if possible, to work on fisheries issues.Be patient with yourself and others. We are involved in another huge social story and the personal, financial and social impacts on individuals and families are all too real and heart-breaking.If you would like to contact Eric or Margaret please send an email to AustAgLeaders@gmail.com.Eric Perez - MBusResearch USC, BCom GU, BBehSc GU For more information about Eric, please visit his website.E-mail: AustAgLeaders@gmail.com, Mobile: 0414 841 532Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Elena Gosse

Elena Gosse on authentic leadership​

Manufacturing sector leader Elena Gosse explains how being authentic to herself and to others is what makes her a better CEO. As CEO of an innovative and successful company I am often asked to speak at business events and share the ‘secrets’ to my success.Having undergone a dramatic career transformation since moving to Australia 23 years ago, I love sharing my professional and personal experiences with people, particularly other women.Prior to arriving in Australia I had a very successful entertainment career in Russia. It was quite an adjustment to start a new career, particularly in the largely male-dominated water disinfection industry.I believe that authenticity has been a big part of my success. Authentic leadership is a term that is bandied about regularly but I firmly believe that staying true to your values, being open and honest, and even a little bit vulnerable has helped me greatly in my career.For many years after arriving in Australia and when I was still learning the English language, I was worried about showing weakness or making mistakes. I thought it would make me look incompetent. I thought that I had to act one way at work, and another at home. I now know that honesty is a very powerful tool.One example of this is when our company had a significant number of orders over an already typically busy Christmas season. We were waiting for some parts to arrive and I was worried that we would not meet all the orders on time.I shared my concerns with my team and worked hard to lead us to success by personally coordinating deliveries and production, and regularly communicating with our staff and suppliers. The AIS team showed its true spirit and all the orders were completed.Some days after, at our staff Christmas lunch I thanked everyone for their great work. To my surprise, I burst into tears. At that moment, I was worried that my emotion could be perceived as a sign of weakness, however I now know that this expression of honesty, vulnerability and gratitude was highly valued by every staff member in the room.Since I have accepted and adopted my more creative ways of thinking, and used it to focus on innovation, our business has never been better. Although I understand the complexities of water science and how our products work I have left the qualified engineers and scientists to concentrate on what they do best.Another part of my authenticity is that I am not afraid to ask questions. One thing I have learned is that it is OK to admit that you do not know something. You will gain much more respect by being authentic and I find people are always happy to feel included.My team is always happy to provide me with technical presentations or material. In fact, one of my sons-in-law works as a technical advisor with AIS and attends presentations and meetings with me. This is because I value his feedback but also because he is a great support when it comes to the more technical side of water science.As a proud Australian citizen of Russian heritage, I am a passionate person and not interested in being the most politically correct person in the room! I lead with my heart as well as my head and am not afraid to show my emotions. I think honest communication is critical to achieving successful outcomes. Of course, this means communicating professionally, respectfully and with empathy too. Authenticity means believing in yourself but not for the benefit of your own ego or money. It is about achieving goals for the benefit of all.It is not about acting. Never underestimate the intelligence of employees, suppliers and customers. They can spot an imposter a mile away!On a personal level, I think it is very easy for women to ‘lose’ ourselves and our sense of identity. Of course, this can apply to men too but it is my observation that women play so many roles and devote so much time to each. We are mothers, grandmothers, partners, wives, carers, sisters, aunties and friends.Outside of work I have reignited my love affair with dancing and singing. I have learnt to say ‘no’ to things that no longer serve me. I surround myself with family and friends who are positive and authentic. I try and take care of my physical and emotional wellbeing. Being authentic, to myself and others, is what makes me a better CEO.Elena Gosse is CEO of Australian Innovative Systems. Elena is a regular guest speaker and panellist at the Women’s Leadership Symposiums. Her Brisbane based company designs and manufactures water disinfection technology for salt, mineral and fresh water commercial and residential swimming pools. For more information about AIS’ products and services visit the AIS website. Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Lower Mardoowarra - Fitzroy River

Collective Wisdom for the Modern World​

Dr Anne Poelina, Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated, discusses her life and work.My Australian Indigenous heritage is Nyikina Warrwa. We are the traditional custodians, guardians of the Lower Mardoowarra (Fitzroy River) in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. We were given the rules for Warloongarriy Law from our ancestor Woonyoomboo. These rules guide how we as guardians manage our local areas of land and living waters in a deep relationship with nature between human and non-human beings. This is our first law!As a young Indigenous person I was taught that to be a leader you must first be a leader of yourself. You must have values and ethics that support cooperation, unity, organisation and the inclusion of multiple world views in order to see and act in the world from multiple perspectives, thereby encouraging collective wisdom and participatory democracy. Moreover, it is important to be a lawful person by obeying the laws of the land.From these teachings we are taught to be brave in order to be a 'good human being'. In order to be brave you must 'stand', which means be accountable for what you say and do both privately and publicly. Importantly, you must strive to reach your full potential as a human being, and in everything you do, you must do it to your best capacity.This for me has meant two things. Firstly, having a hunger to learn as much as I can. Hence I originally began a career in nursing and shifted towards education. I believe education is a great tool for personal empowerment and community capacity building. I have gone on to acquire master’s degrees in education, public health and tropical medicine, and social policy with the completion of a doctor of philosophy. I am currently completing a doctor of health science degree. Secondly, we learn that we have a responsibility to help others to reach their full potential and to open doors and create opportunities for others to learn and share their learnings with others.My current challenges include being a Director of 27,000 square kilometres of Nyikina and Mangala Native Title lands and waters. This work explores 'new economies' opportunities for Indigenous people in relation to green collar jobs in diverse science, culture, heritage and conservation economies. This requires championing the need to include traditional ecological knowledge and the rights of nature to the solutions for planetary health and wellbeing.Dr Anne Poelina is Managing Director of Madjulla Incorporated. Dr Poelina is a Peter Cullen Fellow and Adjunct Research Fellow with Charles Darwin University, Northern Institute and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow with Notre Dame University Broome. Dr Poelina is a Nyikina Traditional Custodian from the Mardoowarra, Lower Fitzroy River, and Director of the Walalakoo Prescribed Body Corporate. Her current work explores the entrepreneurial opportunities for Indigenous people along the National Heritage Listed Fitzroy River in relation to green collar jobs in science, culture, heritage and conservation economies.​ Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Author Jan Thomas

Can the words caregiver and ambitious be in the same sentence?​

Professor Jan Thomas takes a look at how society can move away from tacit assumptions about caring and ambition to champion diversity for all.We all rehearse the narratives around the benefits of diversity in the workplace. How often have women looked to other successful women for tips and tricks, or for sheer inspiration? How many functions do we go to where we seek out other women for support and camaraderie? Not that there is anything wrong with these things – I have actively supported such events all of my life and know they have significant value.Despite all the hard work of women the world over, and despite the considerable legislative inroads in countries like Australia and New Zealand, there remains a tacit social assumption that women will be the fall back, the ‘go-to’ people who care for others. The historical roots of this social phenomenon – that of paid work, paid less for work, and attributes necessary for hard physical work – all make this understandable. It also leads to an assumption of socialisation into the ‘caring roles’. However, in countries like ours, should these hold true in the twenty first century?Rather than focus only on efforts to enable women to care and work, we should also be focusing on the question: “What is inhibiting male workers from reaching their full potential as carers alongside their work aspirations?” In sectors such as education, men frequently have access to similar leave entitlements for caring responsibilities. If a workplace does not have this, they should be asking themselves why not? However, I observe that men frequently do not take that leave. I fear the social constructs of male image equates ‘caring leave’ or part time work either with having no ambition or with not working sufficiently hard. When men do not access leave provision, part time work or flexible arrangements, the role of primary carer falls to women. Until the gender pay gaps are closed, and we can use the terms ‘ambitious’, ‘hard working’ and ‘working flexibly to accommodate caring responsibilities’ in the same sentence, the good efforts of all those who champion diversity will be in vain. We need to be mindful of how we describe workers generally. We need to focus on outcomes not hours. We need to celebrate men who swim against the tide as carers for children and relatives and not see these activities as mutually exclusive to ambition, hard work and success.Professor Jan Thomas is Vice Chancellor of Massey University in New Zealand and has previously held various senior executive positions at Murdoch University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Delegates at this years Melbourne Symposium

When I grow up I want to be just like her​

Cara Stewart reflects on two inspirational days of learning and career development at the Women’s Leadership Symposium in July 2017.I am fortunate enough to work in an organisation with a strong female leader. One of the perks of working in such an organisation is that we are not only permitted but encouraged to attend events that will inspire and challenge us. Recently I attended one such event in Melbourne – the 2017 Women’s Leadership Symposium.There was an amazing line-up of male and female presenters. As the first morning unfolded, rock star after rock star graced the stage. When the first speaker, Tammy Medard from ANZ, finished I found myself thinking, ‘When I grow up I want to be just like her.’ Then Katherine Teh-White, the Managing Director at Futureye, spoke of her inspirations and challenges as a woman in a leadership role and I thought, ‘Oh, I want to be just like her.’ The final speaker of the morning, the CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria, walked out accompanied by her dog, the gorgeous Willow. Suddenly…I wanted to be just like her! (Karen Hayes the CEO, that is, not Willow the dog.)These were just the first three presenters! These women and all who followed were strong, passionate, resilient and hardworking. They have built careers that they love, often overcoming great adversity to do so. I wanted to be like all of them when I grew up.So, there are a couple of issues here. Firstly, I am 38 years old, so perhaps by now should really have gotten to grips with the fact that I am already well and truly a grown up. Secondly, while my admiration was genuine, I had perhaps been so busy fan-girling over the achievements of these speakers that I had not been paying enough attention to the actual messages they were sharing.Walking away after that first day, I began reflecting seriously on all I had heard and noted down. One of the key themes of the two-day symposium was that of authentic leadership. An authentic leader is confident of their own path and does not fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others. It occurred to me that maybe I needed to reframe my thinking.Mentors and role models can be inspirational but my goal should not be to model myself on anyone else. Instead I should be motivated by the impressive examples set by these successful women to find my own way to lead, to inspire and perhaps even to eventually become a role model myself. As mentioned many times throughout the symposium, an effective leader is true to themselves and leads according to their own principles and priorities.If I truly think about it, as much as I admire and am inspired by these women, I will never be – nor do I actually want to be – CEO of an organisation, or owner of my own business. That is not where my passion or my abilities lie. What I want to do is use my talents, skills and experience to make a difference, to have a genuine and lasting impact on the world, no matter how great or small.The challenge now lies in developing myself into the leader I want to be so that when I grow up (whenever that might finally happen), instead of wanting to be ‘just like her’, I can confidently create my own path to success.Cara Stewart is Marketing & Communications Manager at Chorus Executive.Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Dare to Bare!

My palms are sweaty and there is a roar in my ears – I realise it is the sound of my heart pounding. My legs feel like I have climbed 1000 steps and I can see my hands are shaking as Irene Green is calling my name to come up on stage. I turn and look at the audience, the room is full but I take a deep breath and walk up onto the stage smiling and feeling outwardly confident.I know that it may come as a surprise to you that I still get nervous before any presentation, however, this time I was at my most nervous. I was the closing keynote speaker at the 2017 Harcourts conference and the story I was about to tell was a very personal one.There has been so much written about leadership and vulnerability over the years, I have read books by Brene Brown who says that vulnerability is actually the courage to show up and be seen.As a female leader in a male dominated industry – often referred to as the boy’s club – it is much easier to have my “shoulder pads on” than to be vulnerable, because they provide me with a level of armour.Like many women, I often have that voice in my head that tells me, “show vulnerability and you will be judged”.Being labelled is about being judged. I have been labelled as too hard, too soft, over confident, irrational, lacking emotional intelligence – the list goes on. But it’s not anything other women haven’t faced.Not long after I took on the role of CEO within the Harcourts Group, Bryan Thompson took me aside and said, “they need to see who I see, who your friends see”. Those words have stuck with me over the years and often remind me to drop the amour, to be authentic and vulnerable.Well Bryan, you missed it. Here I am about to step up on stage and potentially give my harshest critics more labels to throw at me, or, I was going to gain a deeper connection with the people I lead, because I let them into my life just that little bit more.I told my story - the up’s and down’s, the divorce, the break down, the work I do in Fiji and my journey to becoming my strongest self. I made it to the end and I got an unexpected standing ovation.By allowing myself to be most vulnerable and authentic on stage, I had forged respect and connection across the group that over time will only get stronger.The fear most of us have when we are vulnerable is that people will see us as weak, that it is going to make us feel uncomfortable and it may get messy. However, it is perhaps the most accurate measure of courage you can have. We are most vulnerable when things are going wrong, when we feel helpless or we have major challenges to overcome. But when we admit this, we are at our strongest and most courageous – and this is what people connect with.As leaders, we are often required to make unpopular decisions, to take a tough stand on issues to ensure that policies are being adhered to. Being vulnerable shows you are human.The truth is that I don’t do vulnerability well and I am sure that many other women don’t either. I have had to be strong, smart, constantly proving my worth, trying to fit into various moulds, not to show too much emotion and always show confidence in the decisions I make.At a recent Amy Cuddy workshop I became self aware of my body language, how I naturally stand in a power position from when I wake up in the morning to addressing the network, to sitting at a board meeting. What I find interesting is that until I heard Amy Cuddy I didn’t realise that was what I was doing.I often have to make unpopular decisions, ones that I know I will be criticised for, and when the calls start coming in if you face each one with dread you will not, as Cuddy says, be presenting your authentic best self. I have learnt that this means letting people tell you how they feel about decisions, to allow myself to be criticised however still have the quiet confidence, not arrogance to back my decisions with facts and figures. It does not mean there are times when I would rather curl up into a ball, and there are many times I ask myself “why am I doing this job.”What I have learnt however, is that strength and vulnerability are actually two sides of the same coin as such. You cannot have one without the other. As a leader it takes great strength for me to show who I am. Despite my fears of not being liked or accepted, of accepting my failures, of not knowing the answers and acknowledging that from time to time, I will be judged and labelled.I have become very self-aware of my impact on others and have found that by revealing “my journey”, I have created long term connections and have built trust. I believe that is where the power lies – in your femineity and the style of leadership you bring to the table. Amy Cuddy’s research shows that when you feel powerful you are naturally optimistic, have a greater sense of self, see challenges as opportunities, think clearly and you are more creative.Vulnerability is not something we can “nail” as leaders, it is an ongoing journey of learning how to get better at it all the time.Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Women in the Commercial Seafood Industry - Part 1

Margaret Stevenson, a Queensland-based commercial fishing industry leader, has been working in the sector for 30 years. Eric Perez talked to Margaret about her leadership journey.Eric Perez: The commercial fishing industry has been part of the Australian story for generations and was built on the ingenuity and hard work of commercial fishing families. Australia’s fisheries are built on the work of family run, micro and small businesses. This article is part of a series of interviews with leaders in seafood.I have had the great fortune to work and learn from outstanding women leaders in the Queensland and broader Australian seafood industry. This article explores the leadership path of one such leader, Margaret Stevenson. In addition to her work in a commercial fishing business, Margaret is the Queensland Director of the Women’s Industry Network Seafood Community (WINSC) and a deputy coordinator of the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) net fishery committee.What prompted you to take on leadership roles?Margaret Stevenson: From the time we married, my husband Graham and I have worked as a partnership in our own business. As various fisheries management changes rolled around, it seemed unprofitable for him to take time off work to do submissions especially when he attended meetings on behalf of other fishermen and was on the subTrop MAC. Since his work was the income generator it made sense for me to work on submissions and allow him to continue to create the income we needed to provide for our large family. I had close associations in primary industries in my upbringing and understood basic economics. I had accounting training and had been an early childhood and primary school teacher. I began to understand more and more about fishing and fishing issues and realised that, like myself, the general public needed to know much more about fishing.I started attending QSIA meetings and met more industry people. Then, I joined WINSC upon its establishment and, due to an initial lack of numbers, took on various executive roles in our local Queensland Branch. During meetings with WINSC and QSIA, I found I often had thoughts that no-one else seemed to verbalise so I started contributing more. I found people seemed to like the outside-the-box way that I thought about issues and that I expressed concepts that some others had not previously considered but liked.WINSC gave me opportunities to attend and speak in various forums. I visited schools, attended Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Stakeholder consultation groups, and had the privilege of attending and speaking at the 2nd World Small Scale Fisheries Congress in Mérida, Mexico in 2014. In each situation, I found people would say to me that they had never previously thought about some concepts and aspects of commercial fishing in the way I explained issues. My comments changed their perceptions and sometimes moderated proposed actions.My confidence grew as I discussed issues further and researched to understand more. It seemed evident that I had knowledge and perspectives worth contributing and, hopefully, added a sense of balance to consultation processes. While Graham taught me about commercial fishing, he found it difficult to express his thoughts on various issues in public settings even though he had taken on leadership roles. Graham felt it was important that someone do so and it concerned him that too few were willing to step up.EP: What encourages you when you face challenges as a leader?MS: I think of other leaders who have done hard things and keep the overall objective in mind - saving the public’s right to have access to their own seafood and saving the jobs of those who catch the seafood. I would find it difficult to live with myself if fisheries were wiped out and I had not done everything within my power to make a difference. I do not want to let down my husband, my children, other extended non-angling family members, and other fishermen and their families for whom I have great respect.These people deserve the best effort to help them in their plight with the state of flux the industry has been in for nearly twenty years. If I can express concepts in a way that might have a positive influence then I ought to do so. I also think of the younger generation who deserve a chance to be involved in commercial fishing, if they are so inclined, and I want to help ensure that they get to do so. So many times you hear people encouraging their kids saying they can do anything they want to as a career but these days there is an implied, “except commercial fishing”. There ought not to be!I also think of those who have faced long-term persecution in the past - and appreciate their hardships. That helps me to keep things in perspective to some degree.EP: What challenges have you faced in becoming a leader?MS: It takes a huge amount of effort and time that I would rather spend doing something else. It is certainly difficult when facing very limited overall success. Sometimes it is difficult to work with fishermen who seem to prioritise their own personal benefit over the needs of industry and the community at large.EP: Do you have a leader as a mentor?MS: My father is still a police volunteer at the age of 82. He had also been involved to a certain extent in politics and was a member of the local council. He advised me before I met the fisheries minister for the first time. His advice helped me to be confident and not be intimidated by the minister’s position of power while striving to also show respect for the minister’s role. I think that also helped Graham to feel a little more comfortable in the situation than he might otherwise have been.I have also admired others within the industry and WINSC who have demonstrated great examples of service and leadership skills. Elaine Lewthwaite, Leonie Noble, Anne Whalley, Martin Bowerman, John Olsen, Michael Gardner, Kevin Reibel, Mary Howard, Donna Cook and many others have all been mentors in their own ways although they probably were unaware of their influences on me. I learned from them by being involved and witnessing first hand their commitments, efforts and sacrifices on behalf of industry.EP: Tell me about your journey to being the Queensland Director of WINSC?MS: I follow in the footsteps of Anne Whalley who was Queensland Director for many years. Anne was passionate about industry and about WINSC. She valued opportunities for women to have a voice in political circles, network, up-skill, and showcase themselves in the industry.Anne’s family was already grown whereas mine were still very young when I first became acquainted with Anne and watched her tireless efforts to attend meetings and participate in forums, conferences and activities. She was always very supportive of any effort I made to be involved in spite of the constraints with my children. I felt for Anne as she was Queensland director for year after year and no-one seemed anxious to relieve her of the duty. In the end, she and her husband retired and I was one of a small band of Queensland members of WINSC left to carry the torch. Anne encouraged me to nominate as Queensland Director saying she felt I had a lot to contribute so I agreed and was voted in.Margaret’s leadership journey continues next time. If you would like to contact Eric or Margaret please send an email to AustAgLeaders@gmail.com.Eric Perez – MBusResearch USC, BCom GU, BBehSc GU For more information about Eric, please visit his website. e-mail: AustAgLeaders@gmail.com, mobile: 0414 841 532Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​

Leadership: Achieving through others

I was catapulted into my first management role in 2008, a mere two years after graduating from the safe (and blissfully ignorant) world of undergraduate university. I heard about a unique opportunity to set up an innovative in-house physiotherapy service for a local government in the south of England, so I jumped on a plane eager to see the world. During the interview (scheduled the day after I landed in the country), I was desperately hoping that the recruiter would not notice how jetlagged I was - or look too closely at my date of birth! I still remember my surprise, and elation, when I received the phone call informing me that I had been successful for the role. And then I truly learnt the meaning of the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it”! Or in my case: ask lots of questions, learn as quickly and widely as possible, put in the hard yards, and trust your judgement (though that does not quite have the same ring to it!) I was very fortunate to be able to work alongside some influential leaders during that time, and as a team we achieved great success for the organisation.Fast forward nine years and one of the main differences between that first management role and my approach now, as I lead a large team of allied health professionals, is that I have learnt some of the fundamental differences between being a manager versus being a leader. This is by no means a new phenomenon but, in many pockets of the professional world, I am not convinced we have mastered the art of striking the correct balance between these two concepts. Like the transition from child to adult, it takes a series of individual behavioural choices by a manager, along with experiences and feedback from others, to ultimately shape the leader that emerges. I am sure I did a perfectly fine job of transactional management in my first leadership role but, in hindsight, I was merely scratching the surface in the areas of influencing and developing others, shaping a team culture, building resilience in the face of adversity, and understanding the true importance of holding fast to a vision for making a positive impact in the workplace. I have also learnt that leading others can be an incredibly humbling process, as it forces self-evaluation and personal growth as we adapt and respond to the varied and unique needs of the people we lead.For me, some of the key ingredients for true leadership - but also some of the hardest to develop - include the following:PassionAuthenticityResilienceCourage PassionI was asked in an interview once to describe myself in a single word and, without letting myself think for too long, I replied with the word that jumped into my head: “passionate”. As an extrovert, I have a natural tendency to throw myself into tasks with fervour. However, passion can be displayed in many forms and through many different approaches and personalities. As leaders, part of our purpose is to awaken this zeal in the people we are leading by encouraging them to consider how their own personal and professional goals fit into the bigger picture for the department, organisation or wider industry. I recently had the privilege of being able to coach one of my direct reports to discover her potential as a professional and the process has been immensely satisfying. The deliberate choice she has made over the past six months to inject increased motivation into her approach to work has transformed her from a ‘9-5’ or ‘treading water’ employee to someone who is engaged and clearly deciding each day to offer the best version of herself and work at the top of her skill set. For this, she is reaping the rewards of increased respect from other team members and managers, better job satisfaction, improved results with her customers (in this case, hospital patients), and recently, a successful promotion.Throughout my career to date, I have discovered that the best way to awaken, and sustain, motivation in our professional lives is to play to our strengths. A few of my own strengths that often emerge in character strength tests* are persistence, optimism, love of learning, and ‘big picture’ leadership. I am in my element when I am involved in projects or tasks that combine these elements. On the flipside, I try to ensure I have people in my team who balance my development areas (or whatever we are calling our weaknesses these days!), which include prudence and caution.*For a ‘brief strengths test’ and other questionnaires, the University of Pennsylvania is a useful resource.Join Amy next time as she explores authentic leadership.Amy Bach is the manager of a department of allied health professionals within a large private healthcare group in Melbourne, Victoria. A physiotherapist by background, she has extensive experience in both clinical and senior management roles in the healthcare system in Australia and the UK and is currently completing an MBA at Melbourne Business School. Amy is passionate about making a positive impact in a workplace, shaping team culture and staff engagement, and helping to facilitate and empower women to achieve senior leadership positions. She has presented at a number of healthcare conferences on the topic of leadership and staff engagement.Tell us what you think on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.

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Do you have these 4 leadership weaknesses?​

Leaders are often thought of as extremely strong and capable men and women – visionary and leading their people to success. Think Michelle Obama who inspired a nation with her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign or the women leaders who are working tirelessly to reduce gender gaps here in Australia.What we often forget is leaders are also human beings with their own failings. You are likely to have an idea of your leadership strengths, but have you ever considered what your leadership weakness traits are? These may be stopping you from being more successful in your career.This article talks about four common leadership weaknesses and provides practical tips on how to deal with them, especially useful for women working in male-dominated industries.Weakness #1: Being overly focused on wanting to be likedWhat happens: You are constantly defending or rationalising your point of view and are extremely focused on wanting to be liked by team members. You are a people-pleaser.Outcome: Your need to be liked or proven right overtakes your ability to be an effective leader. Because this is how you feel validated, it can actually signal a lack of self-esteem.Weakness #2: An inability to share a clear goal or vision with your team or colleaguesWhat happens: You are detail oriented and often feel accomplished when you are ticking off tasks on your list.Outcome: You lose sight of the bigger picture because you are so focused on to-do lists. You have difficulty articulating any sort of strategy or vision to your team. Your employees will feel more valued and engaged when they understand the purpose behind ‘why’ they are doing certain things.Weakness #3: Being too directiveWhat happens: You often use directive leadership – ‘telling’ rather than showing your team what needs to be done – as a way of satisfying a need to stay in control. At its core, you may lack some self-awareness, self-belief and trust if you are too directive.Outcome: This is a do as I say rather than do as I do style of leadership that can lead to distrust and demotivation from within your team.Weakness #4: Lack of emotional intelligenceEmotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use and manage one’s emotions in positive ways to reduce stress, communicate better and understand where others are coming from.When used well, it can help to solve challenges and conflict. According to researchers, women are often perceived as having this quality in abundance. However, in male-dominated industries it can be seen as a weakness, as it may not be found, understood or practised by people in charge.What happens: If you lack some emotional intelligence you may blame others for difficult situations and rarely take responsibility for issues affecting your team members.Outcome: Conflict often interferes with how well a team works. This could impact the productivity of your team or colleagues, with those working close to you not feeling like they are being listened to or supported.How can you deal with these weaknesses as a leader?Find out exactly which trait you need to work on before you start ‘fixing’ what may be wrong with your team. For example, if your communication style tends to be autocratic rather than collaborative then that is what needs to be fixed first.Being aware of your communication style and knowing what needs to change is the basic issue. Once you have fixed this fundamental weakness, team culture can then be addressed.Leaders often believe there is nothing about them that needs to change. Instead, many feel that the team members are the problem, so that is where the focus is placed. However, it is the leader who ultimately breaks or makes a team so change has to begin at the top.Here are seven tips to help you become a stronger leader:Identify and meet the needs of your team before yours. This is what makes an ideal leader.Show what it means to succeed rather than tell. Demonstrate the right set of behaviours at all times.Have the vision in mind to keep your team motivated and understand why they are working on a particular project. Avoid being too detail-oriented.Understand your self-worth and what drives your decision making process and behaviour.Do not be fearful or egoistic when it comes to recognising what needs to change within you.Seek and listen to feedback from your boss, peers and team members. Be open and curious about what you need to work on personally.Be willing to learn and grow. Have a proactive attitude and change your circumstances if needed. Don’t wait for things to change, be the change you want to see in your team and organisation. Did you identify with any of the four leadership weaknesses mentioned above? Have you been at the receiving end of a manager’s weakness? If so, how did you deal with it?Tell us what you thought on social media. Share your comments with us on Facebook, tweet us or share on LinkedIn.Melita Ferguson is Research Manager at Women & Leadership Australia. For more about Melita, visit: www.linkedin.com/in/melitaferguson​

Kelly Rothwell

What are the biggest career challenges women face today?

What skills do female leaders need most in the workforce? Can women really have it all? We wanted to speak with someone who was at the forefront of all things women in leadership, so we talked to Kelly, Head of School/Director at Women & Leadership Australia to find out her views on these questions.Kelly, tell us about what Women & Leadership Australia does and what your role in that is?WLA, as an organisation, is all about our vision to increase the presence of women in leadership roles in business and the wider community. Organisations realise that greater diversity (especially within leadership teams) not only positively affects their bottom line but also increases agility and innovation, among other things. So really, it simply makes good business sense to invest in female talent and find better ways to attract and retain such talent. That is what WLA is all about.Currently, I am the Head of School/Director for WLA. What this means is that I develop all our leadership programs while leading a team of exceptionally talented leaders who deliver leadership development and diversity programs (for females at all career levels) and run events that celebrate women in leadership, such as our upcoming That sounds like an incredible position. Can you tell us a bit more about how you got there? What’s your background?I am a registered psychologist by trade, so over the course of my career I have become a specialist in large-scale culture change programs, especially those underpinned by psychology and neuroscience. In particular, I focus on executive leadership and high-potential leadership development within organisations. In terms of industries that I have worked in, prior to having my daughter I worked predominantly in mining and related heavy industries around the world. As you would expect, I often worked only with males. While I enjoyed working in those industries, I really noticed the gender bias that was prevalent and how it impacted on decisions, but more importantly, how it affected what was considered ‘leadership.’I joined WLA because I wanted to help individuals and organisations drive awareness of gender bias and further provide development for competent and passionate female talent in leadership. It is clear to me that the differences we bring to the table are all equally important, yet not enough female representation in leadership teams means we miss out. This has occurred for too long and it is time things changed.Given everything you have seen, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in business today?Well, unfortunately I think many women still face similar challenges to what we did a decade or two ago - for example, the ability to integrate all of our needs and wants from a professional and personal perspective, integrating work and life. We are also often faced with challenges in finding career and role opportunities that can satisfy these needs.Then there is gaining equal pay. Are things getting better? A little bit, but we are still paid on average 16 per cent less than our male counterparts. This is compounded (in the aggregate) by our apparent reluctance to apply for a job at the next level up, though there is the fact that we are not often seen as having the greatest potential for success in higher level roles. This all comes down to unconscious bias and a society and culture driven by expectations of how females should behave.Although these challenges all sound daunting, I am proud to say that at WLA we have tools and techniques to assist with all of these challenges.Do you believe women can ‘have it all?’Definitely. I think something to be mindful of with this question is firstly that what ‘it all’ is to me may not be ‘it all’ to you and vice versa. Also, who said we could not have it all? Why would we listen to them anyway?And lastly, you mentioned that WLA has regular events. How do you think women can benefit from attending your events?Firstly, the atmosphere at the events is incredible. Energy levels are always high with speakers who offer knowledge and inspiration around women and leadership. In addition, there are short development sessions focusing on offering tools to address the challenges noted before.Of course, there are also the great networking benefits though, for me, our events go deeper than networking. We know from research that developing strategic networks is beneficial from a connectedness perspective and that key protective factors of our ‘fit, functioning and growth’ include working with other women. Often, as we move up in organisational hierarchies we tend to find a decrease in the number of peers who are female.WLA events offer you the opportunity to surround yourself with these peers from all industries and sectors while benefitting from our leadership development expertise. They are the perfect place to strategically network and accelerate your growth potential.Want to attend the next WLA event? You’re in luck! WLA is hosting the  in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Darwin and Hobart this year.


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