Why the Leader-Manager is the Ideal Executive

Leaders and managers are distinctive but complementary roles. One cannot function without the other in executive leadership. 


When it comes to preparing yourself for high-level roles, the prevailing belief is that you should stop acting like a manager and be more of a leader.  


Author and business professor, John Kotter suggests that – management and leadership are different but complementary skill sets. They need to work in tandem as you mature into an executive role.  


Knowing these fundamental differences between a leader and a manager, according to Kotter, will help you understand why one cannot function without the other. 


(Source: What Leaders Really Do by John P. Kotter, December 2001 Harvard Business Review )


The Ideal Executive Profile - two functions in one


Invest in your success as an educator by sharpening both your leadership and management skills. Reserve your spot today for the Women in Education Leadership Summit and elevate your executive development. 


Women In Education Leadership Summit May 2020

3 Ways Authentic Leaders Win the Talent Game

Talents link authenticity with leadership effectiveness – cultivating trusting relationships to inspire excellence and consistently high-level performance. 


In today’s talent-driven economy, where there are fewer skilled talents than jobs, candidates are looking for intangibles like “real” leadership aside from top-of-market salaries and benefits.  


What does it take to be a “real” leader and why does it matter in hiring and retaining talent? 


“Real” or authentic leadership demands sincerity, genuine support and integrity. Top candidates are looking for these attributes in their would-be bosses – leaders whom they believe will value them and invest in their future success.  


3 Ways Authentic Leaders Win the Talent Game 


1. They attract and retain the right people 


Many leaders underestimate the cost of employee turnover. If things don’t work out, they immediately fire and hire another. 


Authentic leaders understand that every team member brings something special to the organisation and aren’t merely a set of skills with a price tag. They engage by recognising employee value and make a personal investment in realising potential. 


2. They understand human motivation 


Today’s workforce is motivated by meaning and connection – what can they can get out of working for your organisation beyond salaries and benefits? Any company can offer that. What makes you any different?   


Authentic leaders nurture talent by communicating with clarity and passion, sparking innovation, achievement, belonging, recognition and the promise of growth and succession.  


3. They inspire people to become powerful advocates for the company 


According to a study by the Edelman Trust Barometer, an employee advocating for the company is twice more likely to be trusted than the CEO. Additionally, 70% of respondents trust the personal posts of co-workers, friends and family compared to only 15% who trust the posted messages from the official company account. 


Imagine the power of a story – an employee sharing an uplifting and inspiring work experience. Authentic leaders ignite a passion within the employee to amplify the message on behalf of the company. 


Sign up for the Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 to attract and retain top talent by leading with purpose, meaning and passion. 


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20


Authentic leadership demands that you aim to be a force for good by learning to be your best self. To be an authentic leader then is an attainable ideal. Everyone has the potential to become one by committing to “learn-by-doing” starting with the 5 Step Process to Defining Your Authentic Leadership. 

10 Fundamental Responsibilities of a Leader

10 Fundamental Responsibilities of a Leader

Refer to this quick, actionable guide for learning what it takes to lead with organisational purpose, responsibility and trust.


On September 15, 2008, the centuries-old banking institution Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. It was the largest corporate disaster in history which pushed the US economy to the brink of collapse. But the impact was not only felt financially. It triggered a widespread and on-going distrust – causing customers to suspect that they’re being duped.


What can leaders do to restore faith in businesses?


Leaders can start by holding themselves up to a higher standard of governance, purpose and responsibility in order to build and rebuild trust. (Read: Authenticity in Action – Your 10-Point Checklist on How to Build and Rebuild Organisational Trust)


To understand what it takes to lead in the responsible pursuit of business outcomes, we consulted some of the country’s leading business minds, CEOs, MDs and academics who have spoken at our events. 


Based on their responses, we have identified the 10 Fundamental Responsibilities of a Leader  your actionable guide to drive organisational purpose, responsibility and trust 


10 Fundamental Responsibilities of a Leader


Evolve your leadership skills to cultivate organisational trust and enhanced reputation alongside Australia’s top CEOs and MDs. Check out our 2020 lineup of leadership learning events and reserve your spot today. 



The 5-Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership

5 Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership

Learn the Process to Defining and Understanding your Potential for Becoming an Authentic Leader and Inspire Meaningful Success 


We first heard the term “authentic leadership” as a management concept back in 2003 when author Bill George challenged corporate America to lead authentically in his book – Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. 

He pointed out that “authentic leaders of mission-driven companies will create far greater shareholder value than financially oriented companies.” It was in the wake of the 2001 Enron corporate scandal and the world was generally distrustful of big business. 

The book was an urgent call for a new kind of leader – the authentic business leader. 


Defining the Authentic Leader 

Over the years, readers of the book, notably c-suite executives, have acknowledged the need for authentic leaders and wanted to become one themselves. 

So, what does it take to become an authentic leader? 

An authentic leader must stake personal integrity and responsibility in the pursuit of meaningful and lasting success. 

According to Bill George, authentic leaders are driven by a moral and ethical purpose and never lose sight of their core values and principles. They lead with their hearts, cultivate long-term relationships and demonstrate excellence through self-discipline. 

To further illustrate the elements that define authentic leadership, let’s contrast them with traditional leadership traits. 


Traditional vs Authentic Leadership


You do not have to be naturally gifted with leadership traits, or be at the top of your organisation to become an authentic leader. You do not have to ask for permission or wait to be discovered. You only need to be responsible for your self-improvement.  

Authentic leadership demands that you aim to be a force for good by learning to be your best self. To be an authentic leader then is an attainable ideal – everyone has the potential to become one by committing to “learn-by-doing” 

Begin to carve your path to leading authentically by reflecting on these questions –  


Infographic - The 5 Step Process to Defining Authentic Leadership


Australia’s most trusted leaders are coming together for the Authentic Leadership Summit in Sydney on March 26. Join them and learn how you can discover your ‘why’ – your true purpose and values as a leader. Reserve your spot today. 


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20


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Bad management and how to stop it

Stopping bad management ruining businesses and stagnating people’s careers is something that I’m really passionate about. When it comes to bad management, it isn’t just about intimidation or belittling, deliberately setting unachievable targets or projecting the stereotypical “horrible bosses” behaviour. It can be as simple as leaving staff wondering what their goals are, resulting in them not being able to achieve them, or a dereliction of duty because it’s too hard or too confronting.

In 2020, I’m challenging CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and everything in between, no matter what the size of the business or organisation, to stop bad management and to have the tough conversations that turn managers into leaders.

I’ve worked in small, medium and large organisations in the education sector and have been fortunate enough to meet hundreds of managers from some of the largest organisations in the country to start-up business owners trying to find their way. Some of the key things I have learnt along the way include:

  • Communication is key – people have to know what to expect and how they are to deliver on those expectations
  • It’s recognition – staff should know when they have done a good job and have shown the right commitment
  • It’s providing an environment of psychological safety, of allowing people to ask the hard questions and not being afraid of addressing concerns
  • It’s leading by example and modelling the behaviour you want others to emulate and being brave enough to call out behaviour that is not OK
  • It’s making values and standards clear and visible and recognising behaviour the exemplifies those values and standards because allowing poor behaviour to continue says clearly to other staff that that behaviour is OK, but it also says to them you don’t care enough about them or the company to stop it

So, my question to you is – how will you change your management style in 2020?

If you’re looking for ways to enhance your management style, join us for the upcoming Authentic Leadership Summit being held in Sydney from the 17-20 March 2020. Back for its 5th year, keynote speakers include, Ita Buttrose, Larry Marshall, Tim Kelsey and Mike Baird to name a few. Early bird pricing is available in until the 14th February 2020 – book here.

5 ways to be a better leader in 2020

Every year I host 35 leadership summits, present over 500 high profile speakers and educate more than 2500 attendees looking for that golden nugget to become a better leader within their business or organisation.

I truly believe that what got you here, won’t get you there. So, don’t be complacent and think that where you’re at right now is good enough, because sadly that’s when you get left behind. Chase the desire to be best in practice and be open to learning from others to stay ahead of the game.

Leadership isn’t something that you’re born with, it’s a learnt skill that needs constant nurturing and development throughout your life and career. Combine this with the fast paced, technologically advanced world we live in, where there seems a new gadget, app or way of doing things everyday – it can become very overwhelming!

It’s time to get back to the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) way of doing things and put a plan together for your leadership journey in 2020. The key thing is to make sure it’s realistic and something you will stick to for the longer term and not just a temporary thing.

No matter what stage of the leadership journey you’re at, keep it simple with my top five ways to be a better leader in 2020 include:

  1. Create an Executive Toolkit: Start with your values and write them down, this will give you a way to measure yourself against the qualities your ‘ideal leader’. Knowing who you are and what you stand for will assist your team in measuring themselves in a positive way, leading them to feel valued, and as a by-product, even more motivated.
  2. Allocate time: Block out time in your calendar and schedule the events and training sessions you want to attend throughout the year. If you schedule it in advance, you’re more likely to attend and follow through.
  3. Get educated: Book in formal training, internally or externally and make time to attend it. Conferences for straight from the source learning, deconstructed university courses or one day industry focused trainings. Whatever it is, make time for it. Compile a selection of books to read throughout the year, if reading is not your thing – try an audiobook on the way to work. I’d start with my favourite business author Brené Brown and aim for one per month.
  4. Engage a mentor or sponsor: You’d be surprised how many experienced CEOs, entrepreneurs and educators are looking to mentor or sponsor upcoming talent. Simply make a list of the people who inspire you and reach out.
  5. Network: Attend networking events! You should find that a lot of courses and summits include a networking session at the end of the first day. Plan to stay for the duration, and although it’s like speed dating, you never know who you might meet or what opportunity might arise.

We have now released our 2020 calendar of events. Key highlights of the line-up include:

It’s going to be our biggest year yet! Don’t miss a thing – subscribe to our mailing list to receive all of the latest up to date information on the latest relevant training courses, scheduling information, news and offers. Simply scroll to the bottom of our home page and enter your details to subscribe. See you around!

Executive Leadership Summit 2019: What We Learnt

For those of you who attended our Executive Leadership Summit last month, I’m sure you’ll agree it was a very inspiring and practical experience, this was definitely the best event I have been to in 2019. Keynote speakers Mark Bouris and Todd Sampson were transparent and spoke from their real experiences from their personal journeys of showing up, facing fears and overcoming obstacles in leadership.

The Executive Leadership Summit is all about unleashing your leadership potential. What got you here, won’t get you there. To get there, you need not just the tools but the insight of seasoned executives.

This year, we had over 16 leaders of Australia’s most successful companies speak at the summit about their experiences from leadership, strategy and innovation to people and change management.

I would like to personally thank each and every leader who shared practical, experience-based keynotes and case studies. It was pure honesty, passion, real stories, big and small successes, facing fears and sharing the learnings from making mistakes.

It’s nice to know that some of the country’s best leaders make mistakes, because we all do.  But what really matters is how we grow and develop as a result. The lessons we learn make us who we are. Those who attended will agree we all walked away feeling motivated to take control of our leadership capability and take new actions with confidence.

Tim MacKinnon, Managing Director of eBay Australia and New Zealand opened the summit, speaking off the cuff about the mindset of an effective leader and his top 5 practical tips for executive leadership; it was raw and real. His talk was a highlight for many, reassuring “everyone no matter where they are, can be great leaders” and exploring how to build and balance authority and approachability, especially as you progress in seniority.

Adventurer, filmmaker, television presenter and businessman Todd Sampson showed us how you can boost your creativity and brain power in his VIP keynote, sharing the tools he has discovered while working on his acclaimed series REDESIGN MY BRAIN. He explained “it’s all in the power of the mind to overcome fears” and how you need to continually keep working your brain plasticity. Mental flexibility is absolutely important in business, as is visualisation and emotional regulation. If you have control of your mind, you have control of your life.

I really enjoyed the highly anticipated VIP leadership strategy keynote by Mark Bouris AM, one of the nation’s foremost business strategists. For me, it was a career highlight. Mark drew on his experience to explain the fundamentals of business strategy and its implementation, opening with “a leader … is someone who leads by example” and asked, “what are you doing in your business to hold everyone accountable?”

Mark shared his wisdom on how leaders must drive the discovery of purpose, be willing to take risks and be prepared to fail; “a leader in a business has to offer guidance on ethics”. He urged leaders to provide the structure for the business to execute and operate under, “you’ve got to build a team”. The structure should be revisited every month for continuous improvement.

Suzy Nicoletti, Managing Director of Twitter focused on understanding your people in order to lead them better. She reminded us that building a strong culture of high performance, transparency and trust within a team is absolutely important for talent attraction and retention. She shared unique insights from her five years at Twitter, and why honesty wins over the sugar-coat approach. People want to know you holistically, the real you.

If you missed out on joining us this year, don’t worry we’ll be back in 2020. We have a fantastic line up of events for 2020, kicking off the year with the Authentic Leadership Summit on 17-20 March.

Back for its fifth year, at this summit you’ll learn how to lead your organisation with greater purpose in the contemporary business climate. Key speakers include, Ita Buttrose AC, OBE, Roger Eaton, Katrina Troughton and Larry Marshall. See the full program, line-up and secure your seats here.

The Leadership Qualities That Matter

The Leadership Qualities That Matter

Our conversations with the country’s top CEOs and MDs suggest essential leadership traits for organisational success 

In the months leading up to our Executive Leadership Summit, we asked our speakers “what are the essential qualities that leaders should possess?”

Their answers ranged from characteristics and traits that they already have in their tool kit to qualities that they aim to cultivate in themselves and others within their teams.

A total of 20 speakers participated in the interview – all front-line CEOs and MDs from businesses of all shapes and sizes.

In summarising their responses, a list comprising of 10 leadership qualities were identified. The top 3 on the list suggest that these are essential to organisational success regardless of their size or industry.


The executives who participated in the interview have identified ‘communication’ as the most critical skill to have in your leadership tool kit. They emphasised the ability to articulate the company’s goals and vision, educate and inform as foundations to developing healthy relationships. They also underlined ‘active listening’ as the key component to communicating powerfully.

Other abilities related to communication were mentioned including – inspiring and motivating others, collaborating and promoting teamwork.


Closely tied at the top of the list is ‘authenticity’ which the participating executives defined as “leading in a manner that is true to oneself.” Authenticity has also been identified as critical to leadership success in terms of honest and transparent engagement with employees, partners and customers. Integrity, social and ethical responsibility were also mentioned as related characteristics to leading with authenticity.


Finally, our participants rank “courage” on the 3rd spot as a defining quality of good leadership, adding “the ability to confront risk and uncertainty is a quality that distinguishes great leaders from competent managers.” The ability for bold and decisive action, going against the norm, starting revolutionary change to inspire and energise the team are some of the qualities mentioned that define courageous leadership.

The Bottom-line

Different business situations demand different leadership styles. However, the interview responses of this small group of leaders all seem to point to common leadership qualities that remain relevant and essential in today’s business.

So, what’s the takeaway message in this? While this was a small, informal study, what we can take away is the need to focus on these core qualities when developing future business leaders.

Learn the leadership skills and qualities that drive performance of the country’s top executives. Sign up for The Authentic Leadership Summit 2020. 

Authentic Leadership Summit 2020 - March 17 to 20

What would I tell 22 year old me

The whole “Dear 22-year-old me” where you write a letter to your younger self is popular because it provides insight and wisdom from the best source possible: yourself!

If I picture myself as a 22-year-old, fresh faced young graduate full of enthusiasm, un-earned confidence in my abilities and ready to take on the world. The realities of the harsh world ‘out there’ not yet affecting my optimism or my bravado. When I think back, I think ‘you’re an idiot’ and, ‘oh sweet pea, some hard lessons are heading your way’.

If I could grab that idiot, shake her and tell her anything, this is what I would say:

  • Don’t waste your time on dead end jobs. Yes, I know there are gap years, and times in between jobs when you are genuinely finding yourself but spending time in a job where you know it is simply not for you and you are not happy is not worth the anxiety. Just remember to show gratitude and exit in a graceful, respectful manner when you resign, and fulfil your last days properly.
  • Invest in yourself – you are your #1 asset. This means do those courses, take the time to sharpen your skills and keep being the employable, engaged person you know yourself to be. And yes, we know this about you already. This is why you are reading this blog post to start with.
  • Be proud of who you are. Be really proud. If you don’t gel with every single person, it’s okay. I’m not saying you fly that freak flag high in a corporate environment, but don’t diminish who you are, either. You are you as a sum total of your life experiences, your values and your beliefs. Be proud you’ve weathered the storms, and here you are.
  • Save 20% of what you earn. This is a big one. You know you need to do this. I know you are “only young once”. But your older self is here to tell you that bills wait for nobody and you can never predict when you might need the cash. You might not want to give up smashed avo and lattes and you don’t have to completely. Just put some coin aside for the just-in-case. There is no self-respect in borrowing from the bank of mum and dad.
  • If you back yourself, you can achieve more than you think. If you dare to dream, you will likely shock yourself with just how much you can achieve. There are a million Instagram shots of sunsets with clichés on dreams and fulfilment. This is bullsh*t. Dreams don’t achieve results, smart calculated risks do, and they all start with backing yourself. Who knows what you can achieve!

Want to set your 22-year-old self, now residing in a (slightly!) older body on the right work and life path?

If you want your inner 22-year-old to get some advice from some amazing women whose life lessons will change your life, you need to register for the Empowered Woman 2020 is imperative. It’s a one-day experience to ignite your passion for business and success in all its forms – so your 22 (or 32, 42, 52…) year old self have the skills to achieve the dream career.

During this event you will be inspired by personal stories of success, learn from intimate tales of failure, harness your ambition to make it happen. As you know, purpose alone is not enough. Once you’ve found it, The Empowered Woman will give you the tools to realise your ambitions.

For more information, go here.

When Authenticity Goes Bad

When Authenticity Goes Bad

Being who you are and saying what you think is not always ideal in leadership


By now, we can all agree that when it comes to leadership qualities, authenticity is the gold standard.  


Authenticity is defined as “the degree to which one is true to one’s personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures”. A rigid understanding of authenticity, however, does not always equate with the complex and nuanced attributes of good leadership.   


How “Authentic” Should You Be?  


Leadership, or “the art of accomplishing goals through the effort of others”, can sometimes run in contrast with being true to yourself. Especially when being yourself means you are a blunt truth-teller with no regard for the feelings of others.   


When being tactless, uncompromising and critical is you at your most authentic, could also be you at your worst. How would you temper these authentic qualities and grow to lead and influence others?  


Being Yourself vs. Being Effective  


Convincing managers to change their behaviours and mindsets to become the best version of themselves is often met with resistance. It is normal for people to resist change, even when they know that change is the best way to move forward.  


Take this manager, for example, charged with leading a small back-office offshore team. She trained the team to implement a process that worked for her in the past. When asked to consider modifying the process to accommodate the needs of the group, she was dismissive. Long story short, it didn’t work out, and the manager was replaced with an offshore counterpart within a year.  


While she was true to what she believes will work, it did not move her team to perform happily and productively. Her firm stance can be justified as behaving authentically. But leadership demands some degree of artfulness and compromise to be effective.  


How to Win at Leadership without Losing Yourself  


1. Ask for feedback   

Being authentic also means being open to learning about yourself by how you seem to others. Walk up to your bosses, peers and direct reports and ask for feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly. Listen and take note without judging, justifying, defending or explaining.  


2. Reflect on yourself    

React to the feedback in two parts –   

Part 1 – Give your authentic self a voice and write down your innermost thoughts. Read them aloud and acknowledge how irrational you sound.   

Part 2 – Now that your emotions are out of the way, it’s time for objective self-analysis. Think about how you can use this feedback to become a better version of yourself.   


3. Commit to a plan   

Start listing your behaviours and attributes in three columns – (1) “stop doing” (2) “start doing” (3) “keep doing”. So that the next time you feel the urge to slide back into bad behaviour, you know what to do instead. 


Learn how to be your best and most authentic self so that you can empower your people to succeed! Reserve your spot today for
The Authentic Leadership Summit featuring Australia’s most trusted leaders.  


Authentic Leadership Summit 2020