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Victor Perton speaks to Michael Short from the Age on Leadership

Michael Short talks to Joseph Ghaly and Victor Perton about Australian leadership.  Michael Short is currently The Age’s chief editorial writer, as well as a columnist. He has worked in media as a broadcaster, editor-in-chief, commentator and interviewer for 30 yeaars.

Michael describes himself as “generally bemused, and is thus particularly grateful to his wife and their three children for trying patiently and tenderly to help him through the whole thing. He quite likes open fires, walking his dog and sitting for long periods in the bath.”

Joseph Ghaly:  Michael, what’s unique in Australian Leadership?

Michael Short

There shouldn’t be anything “unique” in Australian leadership. 

Australian leadership is based on universal human values – kindness, honesty, decency, resilience, probity, fairness – configured in different permutations in different places. 

Leadership is about closing the delta between what is and what should be . The first question to ask is  : “Is this right?’

If the answer is no – if there is a gap between what is that case and what ought to be the case – then a leader will seek change, will be progressive. 

Should the answer be yes – should is and ought be the same – then a leader will fight against change, will be conservative. 

Joseph Ghaly:  Michael, should leaders be collaborative or commanding?

Leaders should be Commanding in a crisis and collaborative and empowering  for the rest 

The only time a leader should be commanding is when there is a crisis. Otherwise, a secure and confident and creative leader will allow space for others, because that’s how the best results are achieved.

Left or right – liberal or conservative?

. It is better to look at evidence and find what works best in the unending quest for equality of opportunity.

Joseph Ghaly:  Michael, what’s unique in Australian Leadership?

I have seen amazing leadership in social enterprise 

Leadership, social enterprise and personal gain

Social enterprise is a sweet balance between efficient allocation of resources and equity within society. 

A great example of true leadership is Bec Scott and her partner Kate Barrelle, who co-founded (Bec  is CEO) STREAT, a social enterprise that trains, employs and arranges accommodation for homeless young people. STREAT has become an award-winning organisation, employing more and more formerly marginalised young people in its coffee roastery, cafes and coffee carts.

Change agents can be uplifting. Here’s some more leadership – one of Australia’s wealthiest people, Flight Centre co-founder Geoff Harris, bought STREAT a building after he read about Scott‘s initiative in The Zone. Harris is a fine example of enlightened self-interest; he also provided a building some years ago for youth organisation The Reach Foundation, previously run by another social entrepreneur leader, Sarah Davies, now the chief executive of Philanthropy Australia.

Other examples of wonderful leadership are Mark Watt, executive head of youth mentoring and employment organisation Whitelion, and chairman of St Kilda Gatehouse, yet another terrific organisation, one that provides care and support for street sex workers and for vulnerable young women.

Another stupendous example of leadership is The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, and its founder, Kon Karapanagiotidis.

 Leadership is realising that often there is no “them’’ to fix a problem, there is only us.

Victor Perton :  Michael, what is at the heart of Australian Leadership 

 purpose is key

Meaning and joy come not from the perpetual accumulation of material and financial wealth, but from connection with people, communities and ideas.

 The truth became clear – people get more out of their involvement in such things than they contribute. That what I mean by enlightened self-interest. That is not a cynical term; on the contrary, it’s about the ultimate sweet spot – where all involved gain, at the expense of no-one.

That’s leadership.​
Posted on June 15, 2017

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