After a few days of leave labouring away on a renovation (another story – most probably not for this blog…) I was able to attend two leadership events in one day – nothing like a nice breakfast and lunch to ease you back into the working week… More importantly was the insights given by Sam Walsh (CEO of Rio Tinto Australia) and Michael Chaney (Chairman of NAB and Woodside) – two very different people – but both leaders in their own rights. What impressed me was the potential for the likes of Sam and Michael to influence the next generation of leaders into focusing their efforts on better outcomes for the state.
Both men had very different styles of talking about leadership and some of the issues that face the state at the current time – however this may have been in part due to the different nature of the structure of WA Business News and CEDA events – the former having a much larger audience (and therefore somewhat more formally presented), and the latter much more open and interactive in a discussion format.
Enough about event styles – what did these two events add to our focus on the development of the state?
Firstly the primary focus for Sam was having a vision or a goal to achieve. This sounds simple – but it harps back to much that I have raised before in relation to leadership here in WA – especially political leadership. In the politics at a state (and even more so at a federal level) I have seen a lack of long term vision and thinking about where we are heading as a community and a state. Here in WA there I have to say that Colin Barnett has some of this ability – and with his level of current popularity I think there is room for him to provide greater leadership and vision… something that this state needs.
We keep on hearing about the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ here in WA – but what we do require is a well articulated vision for everyone to understand and be able to latch onto… no mean feat – but I believe this is what is needed.
The one major thing that I took away from hearing Michael talk was the importance of using the same opportunity to diversify the economy here in WA so that we are more resilient economy for the future. This is not exactly an element of leadership; however it is important to hear the same messages that I have been talking about being repeated by some of the senior leaders within the country.
Now we have to start the process of helping set the agenda and direction for the leaders here in WA to follow… so who should we start with first?