Conversations with Leaders Down Under

We recently had the honor to learn from some of Australia’s leading thinkers, authors and executives, all offering unique insights on leadership, on the challenges of change initiatives, on the power of socially responsible efforts, and even the positive effects of waking up each day with a smile.

Nick Kugenthiran, CEO of Fuji Xerox Australia, described the importance of allowing, even encouraging, risk taking on teams of high trust. He strongly believes positive team environments attract like-minded people. And like minded people feel more enabled in taking constructive risks to further innovation. A leader’s role is to make sure risk-taking is considered safe within the shared values of the team.

Lincoln Crawley, Managing Director of Manpower Australia, told a wonderful story about the power of the expression, “If it were possible” when wrestling with new challenges. That simple phrase – if it were possible – gives the team permission to speculate, and opens a whole new conversation around potential, without being loaded with accountability. It’s an invitation to dream.

John Grant, Managing Director of Data#3, had a great line about how he believes we should abolish the phrase, “people are our greatest assets,” because of course, who wants to be thought of as an asset. As he likes to say, “people are our greatest people.” And the culture certainly reflects it. The people of Data#3 are at the heart of their growth and innovation. As Lindy MacPherson, General Manager People Solutions, understands very well in the competitive Australian labor market, “Understanding what drives your employees is critical in addressing issues that may lead to increased turnover.”

We also sat with David Penglase, a fantastic speaker, writer and entrepreneur based in Sydney. He introduced the phrase Intentionomics to describe how our intent drives all results in life interactions. Our customers, colleagues, (certainly our children) and pretty much everyone we interact with have keen detectors of our intent. If, as a salesperson, your primary intent in prospect interaction is to maximize a contract value instead of honestly solving a client puzzle, they’ll recognize it. Even if that recognition isn’t immediate, your later actions by either conscientiously adding superlative value, or not, will come back in spades. This is the karma effect, the what-goes-around effect.

Let’s not forget our interview with Sue Langley, who has been a student and mentor in the world of emotional intelligence. I’ll never forget her simple advice to start each day with a smile. Because studies reveal smiling releases serotonin and dopamine in your brain which make you more relaxed and happier, and because Gretchen over at the Happiness Project, knows from experience that the best way to be happy is to make other people happy; and the best way to make other happy is to be happy yourself.