Spark Magazine: Culture, Innovation & Business - December 2019 "Fuel for Business"

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2 Spark Magazine is “The fuel for business”. The target audience is business people, with an interest in innovation, technology and new ideas. We provide the ideas, motivation, and inspiration for success.

50 MASTHEAD SPARK MAGAZINE Pow Wow Pty Ltd (Publisher) Level 7, 14 Martin Place, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

EDITORIAL Paul M Southwick (+61) 424 70 40 10

ADVERTISING Paul M Southwick (+61) 424 70 40 10

CREATIVE DESIGN The information in Spark Magazine is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances. In all cases take independent and professional investment, financial, tax and legal advice. Spark Magazine and all persons and entities associated therewith accept no responsibilities for loss or damage related to any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions in the magazine, or reliance on anything in the magazine. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and do not imply endorsement by Spark Magazine, its controlling entity or associated persons. Similarly placement of an advertisement in the magazine does not imply endorsement by Spark Magazine its controlling entity or associated persons. In some cases journalists writing for SPARK Magazine may consult to or provide corporate writing for companies mentioned in articles. The journalists or Spark Magazine do not accept payment from companies to cover or include them. ©2015 by Pow Wow Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. ©2019 by BSI Services Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.














The articles in Spark Magazine are of a general nature only. Always seek independent financial, investment, tax and legal advice.

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T O S PA R K M A G A Z I N E WHERE ARE THE INNOVATORS IN GOVERNMENT? Missed by most economic commentators in Australia, and the big story of late, has been the collapse in value of the Australian dollar. From 1.08 US dollars on 4 July 2007, in December 2019 we are at around 66 cents! The value of a country’s currency is perhaps the ultimate best single test of how well a country (and government) is doing. If that is true, Australia is struggling, and losing its way. The consequences will be severe. The latest growth rate of less than half a percent for the September 2019 quarter, and 1.7% annually, illustrate big problems with the Australian economy, despite natural mineral wealth. Even that wealth is under threat with the anticoal lobby and the lack of true support for alternatives. Borrowing costs are not the issue – as they are close to zero. And there is plenty of money around for the right proposition. Our problem is innovation, or the lack thereof. Despite our cosiness to the US and a similar business culture, we pale in comparison when it comes to entrepreneurial innovation. Just look at Garmin, Cirrus, or Apple as examples. There are pockets of excellence in Australia, like the BSI Group, Ryan

Aerospace, who make helicopter simulators, or soon to listed, Adelaide based, Aerometrex, an aerial photography, LiDAR and mapping specialist but our track record and performance is poor. It is the role of government to provide leadership, incentive, stimulation and example to business and individuals, especially in innovation, but they are failing badly. Innovation is the key driver of wealth creation in an economy and the path to national riches. It causes all the boats to rise. It’s time for government to encourage and lead innovation by action not words. Don’t leave it all to the SMEs. Let’s make that a New Year resolution for 2020. Innovate. On the topic of innovation, we lead with a few articles in that area in this issue. There are also a range of stories from our top regular writers, and some new ones, on the importance of people and culture. All good thought for the Christmas – New Year holidays which Spark Magazine readers fully deserve. See you in 2020. Paul M Southwick Editor

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Research from the 2019 Global Start Up Ecosystem Report identified four of the nine key components of a high performing start up ecosystem include: • Funding, • Knowledge, • Connectedness; and • Market reach There are lots of events, mentors and desire to help add value to start ups and ventures, and yet Australia’s start up ecosystems are sliding down the ranks. According to the report, Sydney fell six places from 17th to 23rd, while Melbourne fell out of the top 30 altogether.

Who do the go to - to find the money?

Australia needs to grow its Angel investor community. We are a gambling nation - Melbourne Cup for example - and yet we have not yet doing the key to connect “punters to players.” Startup economies such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, New York, China and other ecosystems around the world seems to have nailed this!


One of the biggest risk mitigation tactics for investors is to access a highly diversified portfolio. Invest in 10 - one will nail it. There is an opportunity to invest in VC funds that the “punters” can trust.

1. Inability to access angel/VC level funding,

Why are there so few of them in Australia?

2. Access to distribution channels and networks, and

What a great opportunity! I believe this opportunity will grow exponentially over the next 10 years.

3. Challenges with scaling into different marketswere identified as issues


How does a business become investor ready?

How does a business become referrable?

How does a business get access to capital, distribution channels and networks?

Can VC be an asset class that can be as prolific as property? I believe the returns can be better for the investors, the economy and the country.

ACCESS TO NETWORKS How can we connect larger business or enterprise clients, suppliers, and partners to start ups? How can we build know like and trust with each other? Maybe BBG can be a conduit to

provide larger companies with access to industry trends and the opportunity to collaborate with the start up communities and founders. Give people what they want and you will get what you want!

ACCESSING INTERNATIONAL MARKETING Founders and companies should be global and scalable. How to access international markets is a key challenge. Some solutions could include •

Austrade have launch pads, and grants

Investors have connections

Networks need to be accessed

Trade shows

International VCs

Network of professionals

Founders and unicorns that have been there and done that becoming mentors and investors

BBG building out an international network of forums

The next decade should provide an outstanding opportunity for Australian founders, the start up community and BBG www.bbg. business Onwards and upwards! Ivan Kaye, is the chairman of the BSI Group.

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by Linley Watson


Company culture is back on the agenda for leaders of small and large businesses alike. Seemingly out of favour for more than a decade, culture took a back seat as performance management and learning management systems were deployed, Lean and Agile methodologies took hold and engagement surveys ruled. But not anymore!

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he high profile business failings of recent years, adverse findings by the

royal commission into the financial services industry in Australia, and a failure to move the dial on engagement, despite billions spent on benefits to enhance the employee experience in workplaces

1. WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS IMPROVED In a new take on the adage “what gets measured gets done”, American entrepreneur and founder of GoDaddy Group, Bob Parsons, stresses the importance of measuring everything of significance.

across the globe, are just some of

In his 16 Rules for Success he points

the reasons why organisational

out that:

culture is in the spotlight.

anything that is measured and

With evidence supporting its far-

watched improves, and anything that

reaching impacts on employee

is not managed deteriorates.

indicator for many CEOs and executives, sparking a keen and sometimes “back pocket interest” in prioritising and influencing culture for the better. When it comes to the causal link between measurement and improvement, culture is no exception.

2. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT THINGS Beyond engagement surveys, leaders need to dig beneath the surface to really understand what underpins their culture. Knowing their “secret sauce” and what to reinforce is just as

engagement, customer satisfaction,

Traditionally, culture was hard

and profitability, culture is now top

important for sustaining high levels

to measure and manage. Now

of the priority list for enlightened

of performance as knowing what to

survey instruments like the

CEOs and business owners who


Cultural Transformation Tools from

understand that a healthy, thriving

Barrett Values Centre provide an

culture is no longer just a “nice-to-

objective, quantitative measure of


an organisation’s cultural health.

But there is a big difference between

This cultural health score, which is

knowing that a healthy culture is

based on the proportion of positive

important and knowing how to

versus potentially limiting values and

achieve it.

behaviours in the current culture,

Recent research by Deloitte of more than 7,000 business leaders across the globe found that although most leaders (87 percent) think culture is important, only 28 percent believe they understand their culture well and just 19 percent believe they have the right culture. Here are three reasons why every organisation should conduct regular culture assessments to measure and help manage their culture.

can be used to measure, monitor and help manage culture over time. It is possible to measure the current culture of an organisation, and the various demographics or subcultures within, such as departments, locations or level. It can also be useful to compare results within industry sectors across the globe to understand how an organisation is tracking on a macro level. Culture is now a key performance

The former CEO of an award-winning organisation with 35 staff explained that they had 100% staff engagement and a “gorgeous” culture. As a founder of the organisation she was often asked what their secret was and what were their core values. At the time their culture was something that she took for granted and couldn’t really articulate. It wasn’t until she became CEO of a much larger organisation where she could not get the information needed to make decisions that she realised there were underlying cultural issues at play that she needed to understand and address. A values-based culture survey was commissioned to understand “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the

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current culture so they could build

culture or leave it to chance and risk

on the strengths, address the issues

it evolving in ways that negatively

and start moving toward the culture

impact performance.

they desired. It turned out that unwieldly processes were the source of much angst.

a specialist in culture transformation and M&A culture integration.

proactively determining and shaping


much time and money would likely

are the first steps towards creating

have been wasted on HR initiatives

a cultural advantage that fuels the

aimed at the wrong thing.

organisation’s strategy. Without the cultural data as guidance, leaders are flying blind.

culture survey process commented

Christopher Gomez, CEO of Barrett

that “Culture isn’t something you

Values Centre commented, “In

necessarily think about when

today’s volatile business landscape,

everything is running smoothly. But

leaders need to revise their strategies

when things aren’t right you need

more frequently. How do you know

to look under the surface. You need

if you have the right culture to not

the right tools and the evidence

just enable but ignite your new

to understand the fundamentals

strategy? Measuring your culture

of your organisation’s culture. Too

allows you to truly understand your

many people look at engagement

strengths, opportunities, and blind

and then try to influence culture. But


to really effect change, you need to understand your culture’s current strengths and weaknesses.”


Without data to show the culture you have and the one that will best serve you going forward, you are betting the success of your strategy on luck.” There is now significant evidence supporting the relationship between

Culture has an impact on everything

organisational culture and numerous

inside an organisation. And like a

business outcomes including

living organism, it has the power to

employee engagement, customer

adapt and evolve on its own.

satisfaction, sales performance and

Therefore, leaders have two choices. They can positively and intentionally influence their organisational

Peak Performance International and

dealing with the challenges and the culture needed for the future

consultants engaged to assist in the

Linley Watson is CEO of

Understanding the culture that exists,

Without a sound cultural measure,

Rosemary Fisher, one of the

About the author

ultimately business results. Measuring and managing organisational culture is simply good for business.

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by Charlotte Rush

INSPIRE INNOVATION What does it take to be a leader who inspires innovation success? Should managers focus on doing innovation and leading by example, or is creating a supportive environment where roadblocks are removed, and efforts rewarded the more effective approach?

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any organisations

researching innovative companies

job engagement and employee

now recognise not

showed that senior executives from

job performance. Employees that

only the importance

the most innovative companies do

scored highest on performance and

of innovation but

not delegate innovation. Instead,

engagement had leaders who were

are also investing in training and

they do it themselves. Leaders at less

narcissistic and humble. Humility on

developing their workforce to

innovative companies see innovation

its own led to employee performance

champion innovation from within

as something to delegate or a

dropping significantly.

the organisation. However, training

process to oversee.

people in ‘design thinking’ and

Show a little humility

experimentation methodologies is not enough to create a successful

When thinking about the leaders

army of intrapreneurs.

that you seek to emulate, do you

Here are three strategies to help you become an effective innovation leader:

lean towards the humility of Nelson Mandela or the arrogance and brash self-assuredness of Steve Jobs? The best option may be both!

The researchers argue that the positive aspects of narcissism (persistence, confidence and risktaking) are an important ingredient in successful leaders. The additional presence of humility (i.e. admitting limitations, highlighting the contributions of others) can temper the potential negative aspects of


In one study of information and

narcissism (i.e. arrogance and self-

technology firms, leader humility


Over the last week, what tasks did

resulted in higher levels of

you personally work on and what

information sharing. Information

did you delegate? Chances are, the

sharing is important for promoting

tasks that you delegated were of less

team creativity. But high leader

If you have invested in training your


humility only prompted greater

employees in innovation tools, you

information sharing in teams with

are probably wondering how you

low power distance (i.e. where

can best support them to then put

team members desire more power

that training into action. So, what do


you focus on - cheerleading from

Delegating innovation to other people sends a strong signal about its importance. Research based on teams from an US information


the side-lines and boosting their

technology company indicates that

Teams with high power distance

leaders who are confident in their

(i.e. members expect leaders to be

creative abilities are also more likely

dominant and take charge) did not

to have teams who produce more

benefit from a humble leader - these

creative ideas. This is likely because

team members are more likely to see

Longitudinal research looking at

those who are more creatively

humility as a weakness.

trainees who voluntarily attended

confident are likely to value and

Beyond humility on its own, the

encourage creative output, being less conformist and more receptive to new ideas. Results from a six-year study

combination of narcissism with humility can have positive effects on followers. One study measured perceived leader effectiveness,

confidence? Or, reinforcement and rewards? Research shows that your approach should change over time.

statistical workshops found that trainees who felt confident in their ability to apply new skills were more likely to make initial efforts to apply that training to their job. In contrast, motivational factors (whether you

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approach to innovation.

feel committed to applying what you have learnt) predicts the transfer of those skills over time. As such, leaders should focus on building confidence between the end of training and initial application of the skills. In the long-term, leaders should focus on techniques to boost employee motivation to apply the tools. Adopting the above tips will help ensure that you are leading your people towards innovation success.

About the author Charlotte Rush is the Head of Learning at innovation consultancy, Inventium. She is an Organisational Psychologist and has worked across Asia, the United States and Australia to support organisations in embedding a sustainable and proven

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people by Nigel Adams

THE KEY TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION The characteristics of digital natives are clearly different to those of more mature organisations. Their ability to innovate and scale rapidly, generate new revenue streams, organise around small, self-directed teams, and pivot with ease is a source of great envy. Add disintermediation to this and, it’s no surprise that digital transformation has been a hot topic in recent years.

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owever, with the major

re-allocate a sizeable portion of

consulting firms citing

the investment pool and trim the

success rates below 30%,

operating budgets of the Run Team

digital transformation

(those responsible for delivering

is not for the faint hearted. It also

day-to-day services) to fund the

comes at a cost: a recent Harvard

change. It is this approach that

Business Review study found that

sows the seeds of division, which

69% of the $1.3 trillion spent on

will eventually undermine the

digital transformation last year was



communication but by binding their role to the transformation. The Change Team will still need a small number of external hires to anchor the new skills and mindset. Their role then is to train and coach existing staff in these “new” skills to demonstrate that they aren’t as foreign as they appear.


Finally, the Run Team must learn

On the one hand, the new hires

help fund the transformation and

typically find the pace frustratingly

ready to lend their subject matter

slow and the mindset and culture

expertise to the Change Team. It will

more constraining than empowering.

also create enough time for them to

They struggle to understand “how

learn the new skills and prepare the


things get done around here” and

groundwork for the transformation

may conclude that the bureaucracy

by unpicking the tangled web

is designed to impede progress. They

of processes through a: “Stop,

blame the Run Team.

Consolidate, Standardise, Simplify”

The root of the problem is that

The Run Team, on the other hand,

agenda. Easy to say,

mature organisations must digitise

feel overwhelmed as they are

but is it achievable?

before they can become digital.

expected to do far more, with

Digitising an organisation goes to the

far less. They must innovate with

very heart of how an organisation

minimal investment. Customers will

creates and delivers value and then

not wait for the Change Team to

turns it on its head. After decades of

finish. Their best people are being re-

corporate evolution, delivering value

assigned to share their subject matter

today is dependent on thousands of

expertise with the Change Team.

process fragments stitched together

They assume the new hires are being

by a tangled web of legacy systems.

paid far more even though they

This brings up the dilemma: do

don’t deliver. New ways of working

companies train existing staff who

increase their workload, absorbing

understand the organisation but

far more change, more frequently.

lack the new skills and experience

And if that’s not enough, when it’s

of working in a digital native? Or,

over, it’s the Run Team that will bear

do companies hire external staff

the brunt of the job losses. They

with the new skills but limited

resent the Change Team.

Much of the research has focussed on communication and engagement as a primary, explanatory variable. But a successful digital transformation requires more than just town hall meetings, executive presence, newsletters and FAQs.

organisational knowledge and hope they learn quickly? The language associated with the new skills is so “other-worldly” that building in-house capability appears as a daunting task. Hence, the more common route to transformation is to establish a Change Team based on new hires. The next step is to

SQUARING THE CIRCLE The key to success is to reconcile the

how to do more with less. This will get them back in control, proud to

WHAT WILL IT TAKE? There are three steps to make this possible: 1.

The executive team must acknowledge that the Run Team is equally critical to delivering the transformation and should enjoy the same level of executive attention, recognition and reward.

2. The Run and Change teams must develop a shared understanding of each other’s roles, learn how to communicate and work effectively together and embed joint accountability for delivering the transformation. 3. The Run Team must implement

differences and allow each team to

an operational excellence

play to its strengths.

program to control their

The Run Team must be brought into the transformational tent, and not just through extensive

workload and enable the simplification agenda. This people-oriented approach will

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not only make the transformation more achievable but will deliver benefits along the way. And it will be genuinely engaging.

About the author Nigel Adams is a thought leader in operational excellence and has led large, multi-award-winning teams spread across many countries. He is the author of “Match Fit For Transformation – Realising The Potential Of Everyday Heroes”. For more information visit

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boost by Dr Amantha Imber

ENGAGEMENT BY CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE APPROACH WORK Increasing employee engagement is a permanent fixture for the focus of most human resource professionals. And for good reason. Research from Gallup has shown the companies with employee engagement scores in the top percentile were 22% more profitable than those with engagement scores in the bottom percentile. Customer loyalty is also 10% higher in the highly engaged group. Engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile and are also less likely to leave a company.

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e know it’s important, yet most companies are


unable to achieve

more than single digit gains over the course of 12 months (reference). This is despite introducing initiatives that are specifically designed to boost engagement, such as recognition programs, career development strategies, team building, and so on.

energy that individuals in a team run on, otherwise known as their Chronotype. According to chronobiologists

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport

Martha Merrow and Till Roenneberg,

suggests that because of the

approximately 14% of people are

distractions technology imposes

Larks. Their peak time is in the

on us, we spend the majority of our

morning. At the other end of the

time doing Shallow Work - work

spectrum are Owls (around 21%

that is non-cognitively demanding.

of the population) who come to

Because of the constant distractions,

life at night. Everyone else falls

Research conducted by innovation

employees have forgotten how to

into the “middle birds” category

consultancy Inventium in

truly engage in Deep Work - that is,

and are somewhere in between in

collaboration with the University

focused thinking where they make

terms of energy peaks. [Complete

of New South Wales, found that

meaningful progress on their most

this assessment to determine your

focusing on traditional engagement

challenging but impactful projects.


Because many employees have

By structuring the workday around

boosting activities might not be the best way to go.

been conditioned into fitting

people’s Chronotype, performance

The research examined the impact

bits of Deep Work around lots of

lifted due to aligning work tasks with

of a six-week initiative called the

Shallow Work, people often find it

when energy was at its peak. People

Workday Reinvention program.

hard to spend large chunks of time

also experienced less stress through

The program was designed to help

focusing. The Workday Reinvention

not having their natural circadian

knowledge workers (re)learn how to

program educated the group on the

rhythms be out of sync with their

do deep, focused work and reduce

distinction behind these two modes

workplace’s office hours.

how reactive they were to digital

of work and helped them create


strategies to prioritise Deep Work.

Not only did the program increase productivity by 22%, but it achieved huge gains in employee engagement within just a six-week period.


Compared to pre-program, at the

THEY BATCHED EMAIL AND MEETINGS Many productivity experts talk about batching emails. But batching meetings can have an equally big

end of the six weeks, employees felt

Most workplaces are structured

impact. Research from Ohio State

9% more absorbed in their work,

around the hours of 9am to 5pm.

University has shown that when you

job satisfaction was 10% higher, and

While workplaces are increasingly

have a meeting coming up in the

energy levels had increased by 24%.

claiming to have flexible working

next hour or two, people get 22% less

policies, working hours still default to

work done compared to if there was

nine to five.

no upcoming meeting.

biggest impact on not only their

The problem with these hours

The Workday Reinvention program

productivity, but also their happiness

is that they may not align to the

educated participants on the impact

at work.

natural peaks and troughs of

of batching both email and meetings.

Here are the strategies that participants reported having the

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This led to people feeling more in control of their day and enabled them to assign large chunks of time to engaging in Deep Work.

THEY ELIMINATED DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS Six minutes. This is the amount of time people can stay focused on a

About the author

task before succumbing to email

Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder

or messaging apps, according to

of Inventium, Australia’s leading

research by Rescue Time. After

innovation consultancy and the host

analysing 185 million working hours’

of How I Work, a podcast about the

worth of data, the research revealed

habits and rituals of the world’s most

that people check email or instant

successful innovators.

messenger every six minutes, on average. The research also found that employees only spend 2.8 hours per day doing “productive” work. Given the average American works 47 hours per week, most are spending less than a third of their working hours doing focused, impactful work. The program taught people several strategies for eliminating the digital distractions (email, Slack, Instant Messenger, social media) that invade workdays and make it almost impossible to engage in large amounts of deep, focused work. So when planning engagement boosting activities for next year, remember that it may be as simple as changing the way people approach their work, as opposed to changing the work itself.

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by Megumi Miki

HOW ORGANISATIONS WASTE talent Over the past few years, LinkedIn has estimated that between 45% and 60% of its more than 400 million users waste talent. Some recruiters believe these so-called “passive jobseekers� now comprise up to 75% of the overall workforce. Gallup surveys have shown poor engagement for a while now, with percentage of people who are actively engaged at 31% in the United States and 14% in Australia/New Zealand in 2017.

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Quiet/softly spoken



Action oriented


leadership failures



despite billions of






here are continual

dollars being invested in leadership development.

Poor leadership is showing up at organisational, political and social levels, locally and globally. We seem to have a mismatch between the types of leaders we want, compared to ones we have or are appointed. Diversity – in whatever category you look at - is not reflected in leadership within organisations and society and progress is slow. It’s not to say there aren’t any good leaders out there, but we should ask ourselves: •

Are we selecting the right people for leadership positions?

Are we overlooking and wasting real talent?

Below are five ways in which organisations and leaders may be overlooking and wasting real talent.

if the frameworks are balanced, interpretations vary and some elements are given more importance, disadvantaging people whose strengths are in the lower priority elements.

When a person makes a positive first impression, we may miss warning signs while we may disregard people who make a luke-warm first impression.

If you were to choose one to promote between people who

Worse still, we let some leaders

have the following qualities into a

get away with abusing their power,

leadership position, who would you

either because we believe they can


do no wrong, or because we are too

Whether we realise or not, we tend

afraid to call them out when they

to value the left-hand column more


than the right. The qualities on the right column can be perceived as not


leader-like, even though they can be leadership strengths.

We have unconscious biases and stereotypes not only based on more


visible attributes such as gender, ethnicity, LGBTIQ+, physical abilities but on less visible attributes such

1. BIASED LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORKS AND INTERPRETATION Some leadership frameworks are skewed towards certain qualities, others are more balanced. Even

A phenomenon known as the

as personal styles and perceived

‘awestruck effect’ has been


researched and shows that we are

These biases are unconscious or

often mesmerised by charismatic

denied such that some organisations

leaders such that we lose our

and leaders claim that they have

capacity to think rationally and


become easily manipulated.

True meritocracy is difficult to achieve as “privilege is invisible to

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those who have them,” as Professor


environment favours some more

Michael Kimmel says.

Performance or talent assessments – Talented people

than others and adjust.

4. RESULTING BIASED SELECTION/PROMOTION/ ASSESSMENTS Even if organisations use blind CVs as a way of limiting unconscious bias based on names, the traditional recruitment/selection/promotion approaches still makes it difficult, if

get overlooked despite all their

The cost of wasting real talent

achievements, quality output, strong

cannot be ignored, as people who

relationships and influencing skills –

are overlooked lose confidence, give

because they don’t ‘fit’ the expected

up, disengage, burn out or leave.

leadership style.

Rather than a war for talent, we


not impossible, for some talented

should wage a war on wasted talent.

About the author Megumi Miki is a leadership and

people to get through the hoops.

For some talented people, the

culture specialist and founder of

Personality profiling –

working environment does not

Quietly Powerful. Megumi helps

Unconscious bias against some

harness their strengths. Open

individuals, leaders and organisations

personality traits still exist. For

plan offices and brainstorming are

to unlock their hidden potential.

example, I have heard of an

examples of environments that

She is the Author of upcoming book

organisation that eliminated

reduce creativity and productivity

‘Quietly Powerful: How your quiet

introverts from their talent pool.

for quiet professionals. Leaders may

nature is your hidden leadership

Interviews – Interviewers may not

lack the skills to adapt to different

strength’ (Major Street Publishing

be attentive or skilled enough to

needs of people, intentionally or

$29.95) and ‘Start Inspiring, Stop

uncover real talents. Expertise and

unintentionally forcing people to ‘fit’

Driving: Unlock your team’s potential

substance of some talented people

the mainstream approaches.

to outperform and grow’ (Baker

may require better questions and listening.

Leadership assessment centres – Many assessment centres focus on group work, speaking up, thinking on your feet and preparing presentations quickly, often biased

Street Press $24.95).

MINIMISE TALENT WASTE For more information about For organisations to minimise the waste in talent, you may wish to consider: •

talent and leadership, both on

against people who prefer to prepare well, read, research and reflect.

Referees – Referees are usually

paper and beliefs. •

minimise bias, stereotypes and

leadership effectiveness is rarely, if

awestruck effects in selection/

ever, assessed by their team, such well can be preferred over good

Reviewing and implementing processes and systems to

someone more senior. Candidates’

that poor leaders who manage up

Expanding the definition of

promotion/assessments. •

Checking whether the working

Megumi visit

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by Ross Judd

ACHIEVING A great CULTURE HR Directors are asked to implement culture programs as a key business imperative, which begs the question, what is the potential impact of improving culture and what’s the most effective way to get a great result? Conversely, what is the impact of a poor culture? Larry Thompson, the US Justice Department–appointed monitor after the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, stated ‘there was a corrupt corporate culture at Volkswagen … it was not a culture marked by honesty and openness.’ It’s an extreme example but he suggested it contributed to illegal and scandalous decisions which cost VW billions.

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n 2015, the manufacturing

what that means for them as a team.

One word, the catchier the better.

division of Viridian Glass, that

The beauty of this approach is that

The point is to get people talking

runs Australia’s only glass

leaders are not discussing “culture”

about the attitudes and behaviours

manufacturing “floatline”,

which is gets a negative response.

they need to adopt to deliver

implemented a culture program.

When people hear that word, they

the purpose and strategy of the

They wanted to engage their

roll their eyes, take a deep breath,


workforce to support process

and dig in to “wait out” this latest fad.

improvements. Two years later they had achieved a 9% improvement in production which almost doubled their profit. It was an amazing result.

HOW DO YOU CREATE A GREAT CULTURE? Start by defining culture as “the attitudes and behaviours people unconsciously adopt to fit in with the expectations of the people around them.”

Once people are talking it’s then a

A leader engaging with their team to

matter of “A - Assessing the current

discuss why they exist and how they

culture,” “P - Planning” a process to

help deliver the company purpose

bridge the gap and “T - Transforming”

is another story. It is so different,

the business.

people will wake up and take notice! The next step is to “D - Define a target culture.” Leaders engage in a discussion about the attitudes and behaviours needed to deliver the purpose. It’s a rich and motivating conversation that also engages people in the purpose and strategy of the business. How would your

MAKING IT WORK To make this work leaders need to be accountable for culture and willing to engage in conversations with their people. For many of them this means a different style of leadership. They will need to listen, facilitate, and guide conversations to reach a group

This gives a clue to the simplest,

organisation perform if every team

and most effective way to create a

was thinking about the attitudes and

great culture. Make it conscious. A

behaviours they needed to adopt to

Leaders have the role of providing

common mistake is to define culture

support the company purpose?

guidance on the conversations in

as either “the way we do things

Imagine the alternative. Too many

around here” or “shared values,

companies are imposing culture on

norms, and traits.” They describe the

their people. They are effectively

outcomes of culture but don’t help

saying “you will have this culture

leaders understand what they are

and we will measure it using this

A great culture is a fantastic place to

dealing with.

survey.” It’s an approach that

be. It inspires people in ways you can

Culture should be a conscious

builds resentment, cynicism, and

only imagine and it’s only possible

and simple conversation. Leaders

defensiveness, which is a shame

if your leaders have genuine and

that talk about the attitudes and

because everyone wants to be part

authentic conversations with their

behaviours they demonstrate, and

of a great culture, even your most

people about the culture needed to

expect from their teams, are more

cynical and jaded people.

deliver your purpose.

likely to achieve great results. Just this simple step can make a huge difference.


The best thing you can do is Define a target culture in one word. Yes, one word, or two at the most.


A.D.A.P.T. and the support, coaching, training, and development needed to make this happen. When you do you can create something magical.

About the author Ross Judd is a cultural engagement expert and founder of Team Focus International. He is the author of

The idea is to make it simple,

‘Cultural Insanity ($19.95). For more

memorable, and something that will

information about how Ross can help

A.D.A.P.T. is an acronym you can use

get people talking. Don’t make the

you build a great culture visit

to guide leaders in the conversations

mistake of over complicating things

they need to have with their teams. It

with a series of values with expanded

starts with “A - Align with Purpose”.

definitions that people can’t

Leaders engage with their teams to

remember. Make it something that

discuss the company purpose and

will actively stimulate a conversation.

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behind by Kate Engler

THE BUZZ WORDS OF BUSINESS Jargon, industry speak, weasel words or just plain BS‌. The business world seems full of words and catchphrases that people throw around with reckless abandon, but what do they really mean, and how observable are they?

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recently attended (along with

these fields what these words mean

leaders have never been taught

thousands of others) Brene

to them, and how we can work to

to lead. The people promoted to

Brown’s Dare to Lead event

have them be more observable in our

positions of leadership in many


businesses are those who’ve excelled

in Melbourne. Having followed

at being a practitioner in the

Brene for over a decade, I have all her audio books on loop, so I am

The words I hear most often are

business, so they seem the obvious

quite familiar with her material. But

leadership, resilience and boundaries

choice for a more senior ‘leadership’ position. Sadly, this often fails which

there’s something about standing only two feet away from this beacon

Let’s start with one of the biggest

only serves to demotivate the team

of my respect and admiration,

in this group – Leadership. I think

and set the newly appointed ‘leader’

hearing her messages ‘live’ that really

the world became somewhat

up for failure.

had them land with me in a different

more focussed on this word and


how observable it can be when we

“Leadership can be defined as what

watched the way Jacinda Arden

gets you going, management is what

And I think one of the key things

reacted to, and led her country

keeps you going. However, most

I really ‘heard’ (or perhaps heard

through, an unthinkable act of

people in leadership positions are not

differently) was when she talked

violence in 2019. Her actions

leading at all, in fact they are barely

about values and how these need to

brought into sharp focus how other

managing,” Rob says.

be observable in your life and indeed

countries’ elected officials perhaps

your business.

fall (sometimes considerably) short of

According to Rob who has studied

the ‘leadership’ mark.

leadership at various levels for over 30 years, including with the

Observable. Interesting huh? As in you get to SEE it when people DO it/ LIVE it/ BE it or ACT in a certain way that clearly demonstrates to you via their actions what their words are saying. I’ve always been big on ‘walking my talk’ yet the way Brene described the notion of values being observable got me thinking. So, I pondered on some of the most popular ‘buzzwords’ on the business landscape at the moment and asked a handful of experts and leaders in

LEADERSHIP But the word ‘leadership’ has been slowly taking hold in businesses across the country prior to these events in Christchurch, with mixed results. Rob Hartnett, a former world champion sailor who now runs the Rob Hartnett Advisory Group specialising in high performance leadership, explains that sadly, most

global leadership development organisation, The John Maxwell Team, a leader sets the agenda, inspires a collaborative vision while a manager implements someone else’s vision. Both are necessary skills to have in business, however Rob warns: Confuse them at your peril! Many people do not understand that leadership is also situational. “Anyone can lead and frequently we

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see leadership in action every day by

by example so that your team – all

talk, which sadly, many people (in life

people without leadership titles. This

of it, grows and raises their individual

and business) try to bluff their way

is inspiring and demonstrates true

bar of standards,” George says


leadership. “Leadership means modelling the way, taking the lead, creating a vision of possibility, challenging the current thinking and setting the tone for success no matter in which arena – life, relationships, family and business,” Rob explains.

“Those that believe that they can lead with a ‘do as I say and not as I do approach’ are not only letting their team down but far more importantly the company will then not have the right culture or approach to be of the best service to its clients.

In the ‘bluffing’ vacuum, leadership will always be a casualty. Part of ensuring a ‘bluffing vacuum’ doesn’t become the norm is having good boundaries. Again, harking back to Brene’s words, she explains boundaries quite simply.

“He believes Australia needs more

“Truly great leaders are inspirational,

Boundaries are what’s ok and what’s

transformational leaders who

supportive and don’t need to

not ok (for you or the organisation).

operate from a position of possibility,

ridicule their subordinates to elevate

And when boundaries are viewed in

empathy and hope, and not the

themselves. They aspire to grow

this way, they really aren’t the big

opposite which is transactional

their team and if the company

scary thing some people make them

leadership based on managing by

can’t offer them the right position

out to be. What’s ok, and what’s


or opportunities after that growth,

not ok is devoid of judgement or

they will assist them to grow further

blurred lines. It’s an uber-simple

Another leadership specialist who

elsewhere with their absolute

explanation, making boundaries

completely agrees with Rob’s view of

blessing. Through this approach,

something to be embraced rather

modelling is George Mavros, a serial

the company gets a team that knows

than shied away from.

entrepreneur who created his first

management is there for them, and

product and business at the tender

then they in turn, will be there for

Brene made a very interesting point

age of 11, and now runs a successful

the company and their company’s

about boundaries though. She

business coaching and advisory

clients,” George explains.

said that those who struggle with

service, ETSI Consulting. George’s

boundaries value being liked over

view on leadership can be summed

So, whilst these men are using

up simply.

different words, the sentiment is totally in line with what Brene was

their own self-respect/self-worth. Just let that sink in for a moment.

“It’s not about telling people what

saying – what you say, especially in

to do, how to think or behave. It’s

leadership, needs to be observable.

Those who struggle with boundaries

about showing, guiding and leading

To be blunt, it’s about walking your

value being liked over their own self-

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And Rob agrees.

the trenches experience, and now

“Boundaries in business means

helps women to grow their resilience

Slippery boundaries are a fast-track

deciding what is acceptable and

through her Motivating Resilient

to suddenly ending up with a client

not acceptable in a business

Women Coaching business. Tracy

who takes advantage of you, or

about dealings with customers,

says that many people mistakenly

waiting on an invoice to be paid

stakeholders and staff for example.

believe that resilience is something

that’s over 90 days late, or a staff

As an example, Sir Richard Branson

that you’ve either got or not. She’s

member who starts off with a few

has boundaries he sets (like most

quick to debunk that notion.

sick days and then is more away than

multi company owners) on what

“Resilience is not an attribute you

they are at work.

his board members and senior

are born with. It is a skill that you can

executives can and cannot do.

improve with patience and training.”

Whilst extreme, the ‘boss’ in the

Other organisations have boundaries

“Anyone can learn to grow their

above examples may value being

on what can be accepted from

resilience capabilities and like any

liked more than they value having a

suppliers and providers. In small

skill, learning resilience is something

company that runs efficiently with

business boundaries might be set

that you can do at any age, from

staff who respect the work being

around credit terms, customer

any background, no matter your

done, and because of this need to be

discounts, use of company vehicles

education or family relationships.

liked, no one (not staff or clients) are

and company credit cards.

It is something we can teach our

held accountable for their actions.

Whatever your size, boundaries

children, our team members and

are critical to brand reputation and

especially ourselves,” Tracy explains.

This is classic ‘lack of boundaries’

business success,” Rob says.

She’s also quick to point out that


So, with boundaries and leadership

being resilient doesn’t mean the

all sorted, the road ahead should be

person doesn’t feel the intensity

George Mavros explains that being

clear sailing, right?

of the event or problem. Instead,

respectful of boundaries of those

As every entrepreneur knows,

it just means that they’ve found a

with whom we interact is important,

business can be like the tide – rising

pretty good way of analysing it, and

but not as important as respecting

and falling.

bouncing back from it faster than

our own personal boundaries about

When considering the challenging

other people, and in helping others

what’s ok and what’s not ok.

times that all businesses inevitably

around them do the same.

face, another ‘buzz word’ comes to

Tracy points to relationships as one

“Maintaining your own internal

mind and it’s used a lot across all

of the key factors in assisting people

compass will help you avoid shady

areas of society now.

build their resilience muscle.


“Powerful factors in determining our

deals or compromising ethical dilemmas. If you can’t live with


levels of resilience proofing, is our ability to emotionally connect with

yourself then you can’t live with anyone else either, so being clear on

Tracy Tully, a former high school

others, physiological strength, our

boundaries is fundamental to human

principal who had to develop her

ability to adapt and our flexibility to

and business success,” he stresses.

own super-sized resilience tools

think creatively.”

during her career, has learnt from in

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“Positive relationships with our

they are grateful for or that went well

to deal with stressful situations at

spouse, children and friends, help

for them. This simple act of taking a

work as well as improve connections

us to feel bonded and provides

pause to reflect on what there is to

between colleagues and teams,”

support and the encouragement

be grateful for is having a profound

explains Hugh.

that helps us to keep going. Those

effect in our community and in our

relationships can offer alternative


It’s in mastering the ‘buzz words’

suggestions for how we can view

“Over the last few years there has

and finding ways to put them into

challenging situations, the most

been an increasing demand for

practice in business and in life, that

appropriate ways for us to act and

presentations in the corporate

the richness of life and all it offers

help us to reframe situations with

world because there has been the

can truly be enjoyed.

less emotion.”

realisation that a person’s mental

“Resilience is not about ignoring what’s happening or pretend that everything’s ok, it’s about being courageous enough to share what’s going on with those around us, so they have permission to offer a different perspective which can help our resilience to grow,” It is perhaps the relationship with

and emotional wellbeing will directly influence their performance in the workplace. “Everyone is placed somewhere on the mental health spectrum and no matter where you find yourself, it’s important that we all work on our mental health so that we can function more effectively - both at home and at work.

self that holds the greatest key to developing resilience however, and

“We have found that by focusing

for this, my ‘go to’ organisation is

on gratitude, empathy and

The Resilience Project, founded by

mindfulness, as well as touching on

Hugh van Cuylenberg.

other wellbeing factors including

The Resilience Project works with

emotional literacy, exercise, social

schools and corporate groups

connection and living with purpose,

and holds public talks around the

everyone can make simple but

country each year. Their focus is on

effective changes to their health.

gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Rather than these words adding to

“These are not complicated or

the esoteric list of buzz words that

convoluted concepts, but change will

often have little firm, actionable

only occur when we integrate these

ways to develop these things,

concepts into our daily lives. These

Hugh and his team have developed

changes will not only positively

a gratitude journal which allows

affect an individual’s day-to-day

people to reflect daily on the things

wellbeing, but they will assist people

About the author Kate Engler has revolutionised the way publicity is harnessed by businesses, giving them access to thousands of dollars of free media exposure without using the traditional PR agency model. With her help, Kate’s clients are regularly featured on some of Australia’s biggest TV shows including The Project, A Current Affair, The Today Show, Mornings, Sunrise and ABC News 24. Her clients have been interviewed on numerous radio stations including 3AW, 2UE, 6PR, ABC Radio around the country and 4BC. And her clients have been featured in the nation’s biggest circulating newspapers including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Courier Mail, The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph as well as many local newspapers.

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38 by Kate Engler



It’s dark. Really dark. And often in these times we think, the darkness will never end. But it does end, and often, like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, the bi product of this darkness, these hard times, is nothing short of inspirational.

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nspirational, not only because it rose from a dark place deep inside another human, but

inspirational because it shows others

foundations of your life, it can also lead to rebuilding life with a change in perspective,” Dr Lavalle explains.

people begin being grateful for the ‘small things in life’ or look at their priorities and have redefined what they see as important in the wake of tragedy.

just what the human spirit is capable of and reminds us that this possibility

She says it’s common when thinking

lives in us all.

about grief, to think of the big

“When you grow from grief you may

moments of grief: death, tragedy,

discover the strength you never knew

As I write this I am in New Zealand,

a relationship breakdown that all

you had. It can help you to redefine

spending my days on Cardrona

result in the person feeling they’re

meaning in life and develop a sense

mountain with my two boys – skiing

trapped in a world of darkness. But

of knowing, that no matter what life

and snowboarding respectively.

she believes growth is possible but

throws at you, you will cope.

What we have witnessed this week

also stresses it doesn’t mean the grief

at Cardrona has been squad after

doesn’t hurt.

“Some people decide to take that first step in doing things they have

squad of Paralympic athletes skiing faster and more gnarly than us all.

“To make it clear, growing from

always wanted but were too worried

Each time I witness another of their

loss does not mean that there is an

about what other people would

amazing feats, I am awe-struck (and

endpoint to grief, or that suddenly,

think. When you think about it, what

completely humbled).

the pain has ended, and you are

else can you lose, you’ve already lost

blissfully happy.

that special person in your life, so this might be just the opportunity you

Grief expert and clinical psychologist, Dr Olga Lavalle says

“A person’s growth can occur while

need to take steps to really honour

this rising from the ashes to make

feeling pain from the loss of a loved

them,” she explains.

something wonderful from the

one or that special person who was

darkness is far more common than

in your life. When you face your pain,

One such person who literally

we think, and not just showcased on

there is also a chance for personal

changed his life in the face of grief is

the Olympic coverage.

growth to occur,” Dr Lavalle says.

former AFL footballer, Tom Allwright. Having had his AFL career with the

“As grief can make your world fall apart and break the

Dr Lavalle has seen personal growth

Geelong Cats cut prematurely short

from grief start off small – where

due to recurring knee injuries, Tom

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set his sights on another challenge.

“It was something that my friend

he told us how much he loved his

Whilst devastated by the end of his

Matt had understood, as two years

life in Australia, and especially his

football career, he rose again to find

prior we’d hiked Kokoda in Papua

family. Characteristically, he was his

a new way to find meaning in his life.

New Guinea together. Throughout

laughing jovial self.

this entire hike, Matt and I were In early March 2017, Tom was with

brainstorming ideas of what could be

“Faced with Matt’s condition, my first

a group hiking to Mt Everest Base

possible with a new way of packaging

thought was that we’d descend to a

Camp. The group had been hiking

up ‘adventure travel’.

small nearby village, where we could

well and there was no reason to think that this trip was going to

spend some time acclimatising and “Our brains were firing!

change his life, let alone give him

then head back to meet the rest of the group. We never made it to that

the purpose he needed to recreate a

“At around 3:30am I got a knock on

new dream to be fulfilled.

the door. It was Matt’s roommate,

small village.

saying Matt was struggling to

“Matt passed away in my arms at

“Throughout the hike I’d been

breathe. After assessing his condition,

4:15am, less than an hour after we’d

discussing the opportunities I’d

we decided it was best for Matt to

departed our lodge. We were only

seen throughout my time of leading

descend where the oxygen was going

one day away from achieving our

groups to places I like to call

to be thicker. We weren’t able to call

goal to Base Camp,” says a sombre

paradise - Kokoda, Everest Base

for a helicopter as it was dark, and we


Camp, Kilimanjaro and the European

had to wait until sunrise before they


could fly in,” Tom explains.

“My thoughts were based around the

Tom says his group departed in the

situations; the realisation that life

idea of not having to ‘rough it’ and

middle of the night with only a small

is precious, and it can change in an

to provide inspirational adventure

team of local Sherpas to guide their

instant. “It’s very common for people

experiences without the so-called

path back down the mountain to find

to have a bit of a wake-up call in

‘character building’ mantra which

thicker air for Matt.

these moments and realise just how

Tom had a moment that Dr Lavalle explains is common is such tragic

was really just industry speak for

insignificant many of their small

doing it really rough and on a

“Matt was an incredibly funny and

problems are,” Dr Lavalle says.


loving person. Just the day before,

Tom realised that living a life of

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purpose is a far greater outcome

beginning of a shared vision. We’d

than any financial success was going

been inspired by one another to see

to be.

something that others couldn’t. It’s a feeling that’s impossible to put into

“I’d experienced every Australian

words,” Tom explains.

childhood dream playing AFL for

Tom’s ‘phoenix’ is Adventure Abroad,

my favourite team and I’d taken

and it was created to motivate

people around the world in pursuit

people to do things that inspire them.

of their goals, but it wasn’t until after dealing with the months of grieving

“To get people to believe that the

to follow after Matt’s passing, that

way we live is only limited by our

I’d work out what my ‘why’ was, the

imagination. There doesn’t need to

answers to the questions what was it

be boundaries or roadblocks. I wasn’t

that truly made me happy? What was

going to do this by sitting in an office

my purpose of being?” Tom says.

or building someone else’s dream, the best way for me to communicate

The months that followed is hard for

that was through unique adventure

Tom to put into words. Dr Lavalle

experiences without the ‘character

says this is common.

building’ mantra and ‘roughing it’ expectations,” Tom enthuses.

“I’m a bit of a closed book when dealing with emotions and my grief

Today, Adventure Abroad runs over

was not only difficult for me, but

15 unique tours per year to exotic

also for those closest to me who

places like the Arctic, Norway, Africa,

just wanted to help, but didn’t know

Mont Blanc, India, Mt Everest and

how,” Tom says.

Patagonia while tailoring unique experiences upon request for people

“It would have been like trying to

who want to get out and explore the

squeeze water from a rock in a hard

planet beyond David Attenborough’s

place. There was no moment or

amazing documentaries, whilst still

spark that suddenly gave me the

experiencing the finer things in life.

purpose I needed, but it was a period of time in my life where I was able to

Dr Lavalle explains the significance

gain a clear consciousness amidst a

for Tom each time he embarks on a

mess of rubble and prioritise what I

new expedition.

needed. “For Tom, this business is about “In my head, Adventure Abroad

legacy. Not only the legacy for

began the moment Matt lay next

his friend Matt, but also to create

to me in the helicopter on our way

a legacy for every person he takes

back to Kathmandu. It was an hour

with him on any one of his trips. His

flight together in utter silence, no

purpose is discovery and helping


people do that across the globe is

“I could feel what it was. It was the

what drives him,” says Dr Lavalle.

Both Dr Lavalle and Tom agree that finding one’s passion doesn’t have to come from a dark moment. But if a dark moment does befall you, then their advice is to look for the inspiration once the pain starts to subside. Discovering a passion in the darkness can be the very thing to assist in turning on a light.

About the author Kate Engler has revolutionised the way publicity is harnessed by businesses, giving them access to thousands of dollars of free media exposure without using the traditional PR agency model. With her help, Kate’s clients are regularly featured on some of Australia’s biggest TV shows including The Project, A Current Affair, The Today Show, Mornings, Sunrise and ABC News 24. Her clients have been interviewed on numerous radio stations including 3AW, 2UE, 6PR, ABC Radio around the country and 4BC. And her clients have been featured in the nation’s biggest circulating newspapers including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Courier Mail, The Australian, Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph as well as many local newspapers.


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by Michelle Sales


disconnected TEAM


ighly disconnected and

curious? If you don’t invest the time

organisational performance,

disengaged employees

in really getting to know them?

collecting data from more than

don’t feel part of anything, have low

commitment and are usually only at work to do the bare minimum and collect their pay. Yet unfortunately, these individuals are common in organisations and teams everywhere today. When people lack emotional connection to their work, they usually take more sick days and there are performance and behavioural issues, with extreme cases leading to purposely causing harm and disruption to the entire business.

Being curious about your people as individuals allows you to coach and motivate them using strategies and tools that are right for them rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. This also means that great leaders are much more interested in listening to others than listening to themselves; to learning, to leveraging the talent

5,600 people in 77 organisations. She concluded that:

Out of all the various elements in a business, the ability of a leader to be compassionate, ‘to understand people’s motivators, hopes and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be’, had the greatest correlation with profitability and productivity.

and different strengths in the team.

Employees feel greater trust with

You simply can’t do this if you aren’t

leaders who are compassionate.

curious about what your people

Harvard Business School’s Amy


Cuddy and her research partner have shown that leaders who project


warmth before establishing their

their work, their leader and their

The governor of the Bank of

those who lead with toughness and

peers. They want to work with

England, Mark Carney, claimed in

skill. This is due to the trust that is

others, which means collaboration

2018 that humility is one of four

created with warmth, kindness and

happens and performance thrives.

essential leadership traits in this era


of disruption. Leaders who exhibit

When trust is built; strong

On the flipside, engaged employees feel a real sense of connection to

A study by Gallup revealed that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share and even recovered at a faster rate from the recession. In addition, people

humility listen to their people and invite them to share their ideas and to challenge the status quo in order to improve and grow.

competence are more effective than

connections are created. This is when you move beyond just engagement and start to achieve real commitment and results from your people, both

who feel connected to their leaders

Part of the process of genuinely

internal and external to the business.

are more likely to remain with their

connecting with your people and

organisations and act in ways that

being able to be humble is letting

About the author

support the overall vision.

go of your own excessive ego,

Michelle Sales is a speaker, trainer,

insecurities and concerns about

coach and author who helps senior


leaders and their teams to build

This means that as a leader, you are responsible for moving your

confidence and maximise their

people from feeling disconnected to

Humility in leadership allows you

connected – something that is not

to have an accurate perception of

always easy. It takes focus, energy

your strengths and weaknesses and

and emotional courage to do this.

to understand the needs of others.

She is the author of the new

Here are three ways to help.

It allows you to recognise the

whitepaper The Connection Deficit:

contribution of others, which in turn

Why leaders must bring both head


means people feel valued.

and heart to work to build trust,

Being curious and interested in your


people is critical to building strong

leadership and performance by consciously connecting with others.

lift engagement and accelerate

connections. As a leader, how else

Christina Boedker of the Australian

do you understand what drives and

School of Business researched

motivates your people if you are not

the link between leadership and

organisational results. Visit www.

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by Andrew May

YOUR ideal WORK WEEK We all have the same number of hours in the week (168 to be exact). So why does that time look - and feel - vastly different to some people? Many people are scrambling, like the proverbial hamsters on a wheel, we never feel like there’s enough time and are never able to run fast enough to keep up with it all. Then there are those people who seem to have more space, achieve more professionally, fit in exercise, socialising, sleep and they don’t even seem to break a sweat.

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hat’s their secret? Many of the world’s most successful people schedule

compare it to an Ideal Day (utopia).

Include permanent meetings

At the very least, meet me halfway

and bookings but remember that

and start taking control of your time,

your goal is to strip out some of

energy and attention.

these to free up capacity.

their time with military precision –

Start by adding three or four simple

like Bill Gates whose long days are

activities to your morning routine.

to plan your Better Week – if you

carved into “five-minute slices, with

These can be as simple as a glass of

find you’ve forgotten activities,

every meeting and handshake timed

water with a squeeze of lemon, a

for instance, or not allowed

to the second”.

quick walk before work, a break for

yourself enough time. It usually

morning tea. These will then become

takes a few goes to get it right.

There is no need for us all to be this rigid, however a little planning can certainly help us move from the feeling of treading water to forward

performance habits – beneficial actions triggered automatically in

Don’t worry if you find it difficult

Once you’re happy with your Better Week, open your diary

response to contextual cues.

and book in the relevant training

momentum and regaining control

Once you start to self-regulate and

sessions and so on for the next

of our lives. As a result of this, we

feel momentum from your new

three months. When the dates

not only work smarter and improve

behaviours, add a few more. Then

are in your diary, you’ll be more

our wellbeing, we create space

some more. Keep building upon

motivated to stick to them.

to recharge and reconnect with

this process over a period of weeks

ourselves and those we love. This

and you’ll be surprised at just how

enables both our productivity and

much better your day can be. Once

the quality of our performance to

you know how much more time and


energy, clarity and connection you can create in a single day, it’s time to

WRITE IT DOWN Start by considering what your ideal

Review and update your Better Week plan every quarter to ensure that it stays meaningful and relevant.

Acknowledge that you will need

build a better week. This incorporates

to be flexible as you strive to live

accountability and sets a clear vision

your Better Week but aim high –

for the future.

there’s no point admitting defeat before you’ve even begun!

day would look like and write it

Will it be ideal, even perfect? No.

down. Be specific.

It’s called life and ‘stuff’ invariably

Your Better Week won’t happen

happens. But will it start to feel

perfectly and completely. But if you

better? Absolutely.

can regularly achieve 70%, you will

Include everything from the glass of water you drink upon waking up, to coffee breaks, time for exercise, how you will spend transit time (listening to a podcast? Reading? Thinking?),

feel more content and in control.


when you would read your emails,

About the author Andrew May is a leading strategists on workplace performance and

Prioritise what is most important

wellbeing. He presents keynotes

you will spend time with friends or

to you. This might be family time,

around the globe and is the author of

family. Consider how and when you

or recovery time, or exercise – it

the newly released book, MatchFit.

would incorporate each of these

depends on your what you want

Andrew is coach and confidante

elements into your day: Specific time

to achieve.

to several Australia’s leading CEO’s

Stop reacting to other people’s

and executives, elite athletes and

demands and take control by

performing artists.

how you will wind down and how

to move; fuel; recharge; connect; think and play.

The process of writing down your

locking in the activities that are

ideal day gives you a framework and

most important to you. And

a vision. Think about your current

remember to plan some time

day (non-controlled chaos) and then

alone for yourself.

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by Alan Manly


to avoid

AUSSIE CASE STUDIES Business disasters come in all shapes, sizes and industries. There are many famous examples – think Enron, Blockbuster Video and Dick Smith. Businesses can be vulnerable to disaster at any stage, but start-up and expansion phases are particularly risky.

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hile the failure of a

The Lesson: Once the product is

The lesson: Naturally entrepreneurs

business is a disaster

launched the clock is ticking. If the

fall in love with their idea be it a

for those involved, it’s

customers have not accepted the

service or a product. The actual

a great learning opportunity for

new product then patiently waiting

product itself can become the

other entrepreneurs. Here are three

might be understandable but an

centre of attention. Stepping back

business disasters to avoid.

urgent revision of the assumptions

would reveal that an entrepreneur

behind the KPIs would be wise. Even

must always remember that it is the

successful entrepreneurs have learnt

business model that’s important and

to accept what the market says as

the business must pay its way.

1. STARBUCKS IN AUSTRALIA Despite being well established in the



United States, Starbucks’ expansion into Australia didn’t go so well.

2. PIE FACE All start-ups could do with a bit more

Aussies love their coffee, so surely the Seattle-based company would

Founded in 2003, Pie Face is a chain

money behind them. But imagine

be welcomed with open arms.

of pie and coffee retailers which

starting a business, effectively a

The decisionmakers at Starbucks

experienced rapid growth in Australia

start-up, with a whopping $3 billion

certainly thought so, with nearly 90

and overseas. Unfortunately,

in funding. That’s essentially what

Australian stores opened from 2000

mounting debts forced it into

Masters did, launching into the

to 2008. Gartner’s Thomas O’Connor

liquidation in 2014, resulting in

Australian market like a runaway train

put Starbucks’ Australian failure

the closure of most of its stores.

before its new board chair slammed

down to a rushed expansion.

Franchisees were overspending

the brakes on.

on rent to occupy CBD hotspots, “When they launched, they launched

putting extra financial pressure on

According to the Australian Financial

too rapidly and they didn’t give the

them to break even. The company

Review, the expansion was “strangled

Australian consumer the opportunity

owed money to its landlords. Pie

by a hard-headed new Woolworths

to really develop an appetite for the

Face is a lesson in what happens

board led by Scotsman Gordon

Starbucks brand,” O’Connor said.

when entrepreneurs turn a blind eye

Cairns, who simply couldn’t stomach

to cash flow problems and ignore

tipping any more funds into the

mounting debt.

Masters hardware chain, after $3

They saw scaling as the panacea

billion-plus had leaked into the drains

for success – and being a global company with plenty of cash, they

Cash flow is something a business

outside its 63 stores across Australia.”

could afford to absorb the losses,

owner simply cannot ignore, and

which only kept them hurtling down

one of Australia’s most famous

Critics pointed to the Australian

the same disastrous route.

entrepreneurs is known for being

market being different to the US,

obsessive about it. As referenced in

and suggested Masters had stocked

Either Australian customers were too

the book Murdoch: The Making of a

too many products Australians didn’t

slow to realise what they needed in

Media Empire, Rupert Murdoch was

want to buy from hardware stores,

coffee (unlikely), or Starbucks should

“interested, above all, in cash flow”.

including washing machines and vacuum cleaners.

have launched fewer stores and listened to their customers before

While it may sound a little soulless,

scaling up. In 2008, Starbucks was

by taking a leaf out of Murdoch’s

Its early marketing and store designs

forced to close 70 per cent of its

book, you can avoid the humiliation

were deliberately aimed at women,

Australian locations. An avoidable

of a Pie Face-esque collapse.

alienating hordes of tradesmen


who stayed loyal customers at

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Bunnings. Had Masters spent more time understanding what Australian consumers wanted from a home improvement store before investing billions, perhaps this disaster could have been avoided.

The lesson: Persistence can sometimes be confused with ego. Having committed to a business model, with everyone who knows you watching, can unwittingly lock you into a dismissive response to any pragmatic suggestion of a major rethink. Be bold and learn to listen. Not every business will end up like these but to avoid disaster, you’ve got to be smart and pragmatic. As American comedian WC Fields said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

About the author Alan Manly is the CEO of Group Colleges Australia, one of Australia’s largest private education institutions and recently launched the private MBA school, the Universal Business School Sydney. From high school dropout to successful entrepreneur, Alan is a disrupter in the private education space. He is the author of two books, The Unlikely Entrepreneur and When There Are Too Many Lawyers There Is No Justice.

To find out more about Alan visit

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by Gihan Perera




A few years ago, one of my friends told me he wanted his son to be a bricklayer because “at least that job can’t be outsourced to India or China”. But last year, Perth company Fastbrick Robotics announced the release of its one-armed robot bricklayer Hadrian X, which can build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, in half the time of a skilled brickie.

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spark magazine



he robots are coming for some jobs. In Australia, the report “Australia’s Future Workforce” predicts

about 40% of jobs could be lost to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the next 10-15 years. But there’s a positive side as well. According to technology analyst Gartner, AI might destroy 1.8

time for your people. At a more sophisticated level, AI can handle more complex tasks, such as reading and interpreting contracts and legal documents. This is already being used in industries such as law, banking, insurance, and mortgage broking to simplify these timeconsuming and repetitive tasks.

million jobs, but it will also create 2.3

AI can also help you attract, choose,

million new jobs, and many more in

and keep the best people. There

the long term.

have been some stories about AI

You don’t have to completely automate your operations with robotics and automation – that’s risky and costly. The biggest benefit comes from AI working with people, rather than replacing them. According to Dell, most leaders expect their employees and machines to work as “integrated

making controversial hiring and firing decisions, but it doesn’t have to be this intrusive. Deloitte reports one-third of HR teams globally are

meetings. Outsourcing this work to smart software frees up valuable

instantly providing intelligent advice about that customer to a sales assistant.

Most leaders expect AI to play an increasingly important role in the workplace, boosting productivity, efficiency, and safety. If you haven’t already started integrating AI, it’s not too late – but don’t wait too long!

can listen to sales calls in real time,

monitoring performance for early

and either offer immediate advice to

warning signs of potential problems.

the salesperson or suggest areas of

workplaces with sensors that

transcribing conversations in

as they walk into a retail store and

and development. For example, it

to AI assisting them in their work.

reminders, and recording and

software identifying a customer

assisting with reporting, and even

Things (IoT), can create “smart”

scheduling appointments, sending

world: Imagine facial-recognition

job advertising, filtering candidates,

most employees are looking forward

administrative tasks such as

model will also move to the physical

Finally, AI can assist with learning

AI, together with the Internet of

For example, AI can do simple

complex interactions. That online

using AI in their HR functions – in

teams”. And Adobe research says

Think “Humans and machines – better together.” Find ways for AI to simplify and automate boring and repetitive tasks, assist people to do their jobs better, and provide intelligent information to improve your decision making.

over control to a human for more

constantly monitor patterns of behaviour to create safer, more productive, and more effective work environments. CSIRO research suggests robotics and automation will reduce physical workplace injury by 11% by 2030.

improvement to their manager. It can also integrate with online learning tools to monitor progress and guide employees to improve their learning.

About the author Gihan Perera is a business futurist, speaker, and author who works with business leaders to help them lead and succeed in an uncertain but exciting future. He is the author of

In customer-facing operations,

“Disruption By Design: Leading the

you’re probably already familiar

change in a fast-changing world”

with online chatbots offering help

(RRP $33). For more about how

when you visit a Website. These sales

Gihan can work with your leaders

and customer service chatbots are

and teams, visit

increasingly being powered by AI software, which engages customers in simple conversations, and hands

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58 by Dr Amantha Imber



“I wish I had more meetings”, said no one, ever. The average executive spends 23 hours per week in meetings. Yet few obsess over how to reduce this time and ensure it is time well spent. With a bit of planning, some creativity, and quirkiness, some of the world’s most successful leaders have reduced time spent in meetings by over 50% and infinitely improved the time they do still spend in meetings. This is how they have done that.

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spark magazine





At 1-800-GOT-JUNK, CEO Brian

To reinforce the structure, Hallas writes up one, three, one onto a whiteboard for all her meetings. “I do it to remind everyone how

Scudamore has a strict rule for

Meetings often litter calendars in a

to frame things. That’s also how I

any meeting that goes in his diary

scattergun pattern. But what impact

set out meeting agendas. It forces

called POA. POA stands for Purpose,

does this have on productivity?

the preparation and the thinking

Outcome, and Agenda.

Researchers from Ohio State

time before we actually get to the

“For every meeting, someone has

University found that when people


to communicate the purpose, the outcome, and a brief agenda,”

have a meeting coming up within an hour or two, the time in between is

Scudamore told to me on an

used much less productively.

interview on the How I Work

When people had a meeting coming

podcast. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a

up, they got 22% less work done in

ten-minute meeting or a one-hour

the time before the meeting started

meeting. If there’s no POA, it’s no-

compared to if they didn’t have a


meeting approaching.

Brian’s assistant ensures this rule

For Wharton Professor and best-

gets adhered to. His assistant asks

selling author Adam Grant, this

anyone that wants to meet with

research reinforced how he

Brian what their POA is. If they can’t

approached his own meeting

answer the question, the meeting


won’t go in the diary.


he took action. “I deleted every single meeting out of my calendar and it went with a note that said one of three options,” Price describes. “Option one was to reinvite me but tell me what my role and responsibilities are for the meeting. Option two was to still else in my team to do it. And option three is that the meeting probably

a little buffer of five minutes or so

shouldn’t exist.”

meetings, making the average

long, but then I’d have another day

diary look like a game of Tetris.

with no meetings at all where I could

But for Scudamore, in addition

really focus and be productive. This

to the POA rule, being deliberate

research reinforced that for me.”


realised he was drowning in them. So

said Grant. “I learned that I needed

up on email or in case a meeting ran

a 45-minute meeting,” Scudamore

loathes meetings. And a year ago, he

hold the meeting but invite someone

with blocks of 30 and 60-minute

rather a 22-minute meeting than

Atlassian’s head of R&D, Dom Price,

office hours meetings back to back,”

The average leaders’ diary is filled

meeting will need is critical. “I’d


“On a teaching day, I’ll hold all my

between each meeting just to catch

about how much time any given

They try to avoid meetings where

THEY CREATE SIMPLE STRUCTURES FOR SUCCESS For Ella Bache CEO Pippa Hallas, having a structure for meetings is

As a result of deleting all meetings, many of them never returned. “I now have less meetings and the ones I have I find are really focused on something specific and I believe that my contribution in those meetings has now increased.” So rather than get frustrated over the flood of meetings in your calendar, take action to win back time in your diary or to actually ensure your

As such, Scudamore and his assistant

key to getting the most out of them.

never default to 30- or 60-minute

Whenever someone is presenting

meetings, and indeed, most of

in a meeting or a problem is being

About the author

Scudamore’s meetings are for an

discussed, she uses a framework

Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder

odd number of minutes. And where

called 1-3-1.

of Inventium, Australia’s leading

“We ask for one problem, three

innovation consultancy and the host

options and one recommendation,”

of How I Work, a podcast about the

explains Hallas. “We’re forcing

habits and rituals of the world’s most

a POA can be resolved quickly, Scudamore is known for setting meetings that will last for less than ten minutes.

ourselves through a framework to have solution-based conversations.”

meetings are time well spent.

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spark magazine

62 by Michelle Gibbings


all ages

As organisations grapple with more complex decisions and an ever-increasing pace of change, building a workforce equipped with the skills and experience to thrive in this environment is critical. Finding this depth and breadth of talent may require leaders to build a diverse workforce, which covers full spectrum diversity including, for example, age, ethnicity, gender, thinking styles, disabilities and sexual orientation.

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his means leaders need to

However, when you strip away the

this has consequential impacts for

challenge their decision-

layers and get to the base level

hiring decisions.

making patterns.

drivers what the person is looking


for is someone who they feel comfortable with. That is, someone

It’s natural to want to work with

who they connect with because they

people you like and find easy to

can see aspects of themselves in that

work with, and consequently when


you are building a team or forming work groups you often seek out such people. This is either done consciously or subconsciously. In the case of recruitment, for example, search criteria often specifically reference the desire to find a candidate where there is cultural fit.


Kellogg University found that getting hired for a job was not so much about the “soft or hard dimensions of the role”, but rather how similar the person being interviewed was to the person conducting the interview. It is very easy for leaders to want

It’s often suggested that one of

to hire people who are like them.

the key success criteria for a job

Similarity makes a person feel

interview is to ensure that the

comfortable. However, when

interviewee comes across as likeable.

you hire people like yourself, you

The premise being that the hiring

are filling the team or work group

manager has already positively

with people who have similar

assessed the applicant’s CV for the

backgrounds, experiences and

required technical skills because they

thought processes.

Cultural fit can mean different things

are being interviewed. Now, all the

to different people. Typically, if you

hiring manager is seeking to test is

ask people how they define cultural

whether they want to work with the

Homogeneity can negatively impact

fit they will give comments such as,

person or not.

how decisions are made. The more

someone who:

This likeability isn’t just about being

Lives the organisation’s values

friendly and a nice person. It’s about

Can work well in the team

whether the hiring manager finds

Will fit in with the rest of the group

Understands the organisation’s objectives and buys into its vision.

similarities with the person they are interviewing. Research shows we like people who are like us in terms of interests, backgrounds and experiences, and

Diversity improves decision making

alike people are, the more likely they are to think along the same lines and therefore there is less room for debate, discernment and disagreement. Separate research from Kellogg University found that diverse teams make better decisions. That diversity is not just about gender or ethnicity,

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it includes age, experience and

Successful sustainable organisations

of experience, background,


recognise the need for their

ethnicity, age and gender (and all

workforce to be is equipped with the

forms of diversity) when forming

capability and capacity to dig deeper

teams and work groups.

The diverse groups outperformed more homogeneous groups not because of an influx of new ideas, but because the diversity triggered more careful processing of the information that’s discussed. ‘Complex problem solving’ and ‘critical thinking’ are the top two competencies that the World Economic Forum identified in its Future of Jobs report. This involves challenge, exploration, suspending

into the mental models that drive their thought processes and be ready

spend more time with. Why?

Consequently, leaders need to

Because the source of tension

be prepared to challenge their

comes from their seeing the

assumptions and expectations when

world differently to you and

they are building their team. This

this challenge to your frame


of reference is good for your

varying degrees. •

thought processes; and

Acknowledging the potential for

with the cognitive capacity to look


often the person you need to

sources and environments.

bias, because we all have it to

of which is aided by having a diverse

Recognising that the person at work who really annoys you is

to acquire knowledge from multiple

judgement, and being equipped at problems in a different way. All

Actively seeking diversity

Inviting other people into the decision-making process who can shift and provide alternate perspectives

It starts with the leader understanding their own strengths

As part of this approach, it helps

and how they are best used at

for leaders to understand and then

work. The next step is to help team

leverage the strengths of their team.


Research conducted over the last 30

years shows that taking a strengthsbased approach leads to greater work satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. This is evidenced in Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s

About the author Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with leaders and

Appreciate the strengths they

teams to help them accelerate

bring to their role, and

progress. She is the Author of ‘Step

Recognise and value the strengths their colleagues bring to their role

Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’. For more information:

book, Strengths Based Leadership,

This is best done through a series of

where they detail how working with

team development activities, which

or contact

strengths helps leaders be more

help the team best understand and


leverage the individual and collective

Leaders play a crucial role in bringing strengths to life at work – for both themselves and their team members.

strengths of the team.

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millennials Millennials

Lazy, entitled, self-interested, unfocused, selfish, unmotivated, pampered, and narcissistic. These are just some of the words used to describe millennials. But who is doing the describing? Most of the time it’s baby boomers who grew up in a different era, with different expectations, who don’t understand this generation.

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by Ross Judd


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illennials see things differently. Where baby boomers were taught to follow

instruction without question, millennials question everything. Where baby boomers pride themselves on loyalty to a company, millennials pride themselves on mobility. There are other significant differences which Deloitte’s 2019 Global Millennial Survey uncovered. Millennials are more interested in travelling and seeing the world (57 percent) than owning a home (49 percent) and only 39 percent are interested in having children and starting families. Clearly the priorities of the generation called “baby boomers” have not been adopted by millennials.

ARE THEY THAT BAD? There are plenty of companies getting great results from millennials. Herald described as Australia’s

I can think of a few reasons why

greatest tech success story to date,

we landed on this list. It might be

are a great example. According

the 100% employer paid healthcare

to “Great Place to Work” 72% of

benefits (which is totally awesome),

Atlassian employees are millennials

or our foundation leave, which

and only 2% are baby boomers.

allows employees to take five paid

How could success of this magnitude be possible if 72% of their workforce consists of people that are lazy, selfish, entitled, and narcissistic? Are they able to recruit the exceptions to the rule? Is their industry so different and unique and their product so good that it wouldn’t matter who their employees were, they would be successful anyway? Atlassian employ over 3,600 people so they would have to be exceptional at weeding out the lazy, selfish,

will need to adjust to these changing

they were employing the exceptions

views because, according to Forbes,

to the rule. It’s also a “tech” company

millennials already make up over

that compete in a cluttered and

50% of the global workforce and will

competitive market.

see millennials and it raises two questions. First, are millennials really that bad or do they simply have different priorities and expectations to their leaders who are mostly baby boomers, and second how to get the best out of millennials?

Workplaces for millennials. It states: “As a millennial working at Atlassian,

entitled and narcissistic people if

a sobering thought for leaders that

them as one of the 100 Best

Atlassian, who the Sydney Morning

If they want to be successful leaders

make up over 75% by 2025. That’s

after “Great Place to Work” included

It’s far more likely that they naturally and instinctively know how to get the best out “millennials.” The two founders were born in 1979, so they are close to being millennials themselves. Is it possible they have a stronger affinity with the motivation and drive of millennials than baby boomers? A clue to the answer is found in a post from one of their employees

days each year to volunteer with an organization of our choice. It could be the open and collaborative offices with dogs and stocked fridges, or the regular social events put on by our experience team. But while the perks are great, what it really boils down to is our company values – these are what truly set us apart from other organisations.” That individual opinion is supported by the research. When asked why employees say it is a great place to work the three most popular answers were (1) Values, (2) Culture, (3) People, with values comfortably winning as the most popular answer. It seems that by consistently reinforcing values like transparency (open company, no “BS”), balance (build with heart and balance), customer focus (don’t #@!% the customer), teamwork (play, as a team), and positive impact (be the change you seek), the founders of Atlassian were able to tap into a different work ethic and elicit a different level of performance. Their company has grown so fast the

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Sydney Morning Herald suggests

Millennials also place a high priority

that if it was listed on the ASX, rather

on quality relationships; memorable

than the Nasdaq, it would be among

experiences; their opportunities for

the top 20 most valuable companies

development and learning; and the

in Australia.

quality of their working environment.


It’s no coincidence the Atlassian

The key is to understand what motivates millennials. They are not driven by the same motivations, concerns, and instincts as baby boomers. Trying to manage them in the same way is a recipe for disaster. Millennials have a strong desire to make a positive impact in the world and prioritise this over profit. When asked by Deloitte, 76% agree with the sentiment that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society, and 64% agree that businesses have no ambition beyond wanting to make money. Only 37% of millennials believe business leaders make a positive impact on the world. This all highlights a very different set of priorities to the baby boomers who have put profit before other concerns.

employee quoted above mentioned things like foundation leave (positive impact), open and collaborative offices (relationships), social events (memorable experiences), and company values (positive impact and working environment).

reason to engage in the program so it falls flat and creates a mediocrity that millennials can’t stand. Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends” research found that employees want a career, purpose, and meaning from their work, which means everything you do needs to be driven by purpose and meaning. This includes a culture program. That means throwing away the surveys, graphs, terms, data, and other

leadership is out, inclusive leadership

complications and engaging people

is in” so baby boomers that prioritise

in five simple conversations.

things like short term profit over long term impact, command and control structures, and hard work characterised by long hours will fail to get the best out of millennials who want quality relationships, opportunities to learn and develop, memorable experiences, and a great working environment.

THERE IS GOOD NEWS It’s a simple process to create a great working environment and improve the employee experience and align

research found that younger

with the priorities of millennials. It

generations speak with their wallets

can all be achieved by building a

in ways that seem different to

great culture.

Millennials start and stop relationships with companies for very personal reasons, often related to a company’s positive or negative impact on society.

They also aren’t given a compelling

According to Forbes “authoritarian

As further evidence, Deloitte’s

previous generations.

as another change program.

Companies can create a great culture, that will engage millennials, improve the employee experience, and create a great place to work. Organisations don’t need expensive surveys and data, they just need to be willing to listen and engage in conversations with people in the following sequence.

STEP 1 – ALIGN WITH PURPOSE The best organisational cultures are aligned to a common purpose which creates connections, energy, and excitement that can’t be matched any other way. It’s an experience that creates an amazing culture,

Unfortunately, most companies

builds strong relationships, and

are missing the boat and trying to

improves the quality of the working

improve culture by using a “change


management” approach.

People are change fatigued and instinctively resist “culture change” because it comes across

As stated earlier, purpose and meaning are something people want from their work, so they will respond

spark magazine


positively to this conversation.

“that the answers to many of the

Now the company has a compelling

Instead of alienating them through

challenges we face in sustaining life

purpose it’s time to talk about

surveys and data you will engage

on our beautiful planet lie in making

culture. The simplest, and most

them in a topic they desperately

better use of space.”

effective approach is to engage with

want to understand.

Talk to people about why the

people in a conversation to define the culture that is needed to deliver

Unfortunately, too many leaders

company exists, what you want

have failed in this conversation and

to achieve, and what they want to

struggle to articulate purpose in

achieve. This is not a conversation

A great tip is to summarise the

a meaningful way. Baby boomers

about targets or KPIs, it’s a

conversation to one word, or two at

come from the mind-set that they

conversation about how you can all

the most. This is the best way to get

need to have all the answers and tell

contribute to making the world a

people talking about the culture you

people the purpose. That’s a mistake.

better place and making their lives a

want to build to deliver the purpose

Leaders need to listen, understand

better experience.

of the organisation.

People want to know their work

Resist the urge to overcomplicate

their people, and align everyone to a common purpose.

the purpose.

has meaning so try to create a

things with a handful of values and

The key is alignment. Engage in

compelling statement that will

detailed explanations. They aren’t

conversations about the purpose of

motivate people at a deeper level.

needed at this stage. People can

the business and try to align with the priorities of your people. Atlassian aren’t pretending their software will change the world, they are engaging people in the idea the company can make a positive impact through simple things like foundation days, while also making money, while also improving the lives of the people that work in the company through strong values, opportunities, a great place to work, and a great culture. Richard Branson is brilliant at this. He gets great results from millennials because he always has a compelling reason for what they are doing. When Virgin was launched in Australia his catch cry was to “keep the air fair.” Virgin Galactic was launched to “give ordinary people the opportunity to go into space.” Now Virgin Galactic recognises

The objective is to create a compelling purpose for the whole company. Then every leader in the organisation needs to align their team, department, unit, or site by

only remember one or two things at a time so keep this as simple and engaging as you can. The objective is to identify a word that will stimulate a conversation.

discussing why they exist in the

Like the conversation about the

context of delivering the company

purpose, this conversation also

purpose. This is critical because it

needs to cascade throughout the

personalises the conversation for

organisation. Every leader will need

everyone. Don’t worry if they come

to talk to their team about the

up with a slightly different statement,

culture they need to support the

that’s OK. Alignment is more

company’s culture. Don’t worry if

important that uniformity.

they come up with a slightly different

This process cascades the discussion throughout the organisation in a personal and meaningful way for

word, alignment is more important than the whole company having one word.

everyone. It also aligns the whole

These two steps, aligning with

organisation to something more than

purpose and defining a target


culture, will engage people in a


conversation they desperately want to have. Everyone, even the most jaded and cynical people in the

spark magazine


organisation, want to be part of a

removes the debate, confusion, and

great culture. These conversations

angst that come from statistics.

will start aligning people to that outcome.



MAKING IT WORK To make it work leaders need to be

The organisation is now aligned to a

accountable for culture and willing

common purpose with a clear target

to engage in conversations with

culture and an understanding of the

their people. For those that are baby

Now the company is clear on why

current culture. It’s time to assess

boomers this means a different

it exists and the culture it needs

the gap between target and current

style of leadership. They will need

to deliver that promise it’s time to

culture and plan the steps to bridge

to ask instead of tell; listen instead

assess the current culture. The most

the gap.

of talk; facilitate instead of dictate;


effective way to do this is through interviews and focus groups.

Don’t make the mistake of using a survey. They will alienate people, create confusion, and build cynicism because people are sceptical about statistics. Culture is not something that can be turned into a statistic. It’s a set of attitudes and behaviours that people adopt to fit in with the expectations of the people around them. So talk to people and find out what the attitudes, behaviours, and expectations are. The best advice is to use an independent third party for this step. Skilled assessors can follow

This can be an exciting and motivating conversation. A group of people working together to discuss how they will consciously move their culture from one state to a desired culture is a fantastic place to be.


and guide conversations to reach a group decision instead of making all the decisions. It’s the new style of leadership that is needed to get the best out of the generation that in just a few short years will make up 75% of the workforce. If you are struggling to get the best

This is the simplest step of all.

out of millennials then it’s time to

Implement the plan and transform

start having conversations that will (1)

the business. This is the culmination

align with purpose, (2) define a target

of a process that will engage people

culture, (3) assess the current culture,

and transform the business. Culture,

(4&5) and plan a transformation.

employee experience, relationships, purpose, meaning, the working

About the author

environment, engagement, and

Ross Judd is a cultural engagement

motivation will all be improved

expert and founder of Team Focus

through this process and this can

International. Ross works with

lead to great business results.

leaders to engage their workforce

threads, read body language, and

MIT research has shown that just

notice things that are not being

improving the employee experience

said as easily as they notice what

can lead to great business results.

is being said. They will pick up

Their study found that enterprises

on the language, themes, and

with a top-quartile employee

unspoken cultural expectations in

experience achieve twice the

the organisation and present their

innovation, double the customer

findings in simple language that is

satisfaction, and 25 percent

easy to understand. Ultimately this

higher profits than organizations

will save your money because it

with a bottom quartile employee

in the creation of a fantastic culture that will deliver strong business outcomes. He is the Author of ‘Cultural Insanity (MHP $19.95). For more information visit


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