For many years Australians have been uneasy with power, complaining about it and avoiding it in ourselves and others; wanting it but being scared of it, having seen what it did when it failed; looking to others overseas and “higher up” for the answers, according to Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton in their book The Australian Leadership Paradox: What It Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country. It is time to demand that leadership be exercised more effectively in Australia.
The authors describe four interesting paradoxes:
In order to forge a new Australian leadership story, the authors assert that we need to become more comfortable with understanding, owning and exercising power and authority, and using and leveraging our leadership roles. We need to be more open in the way that we handle conflict, and in our approach to competition, growth and innovation.
I found most of the authors’ arguments persuasive. I agree that the practice of leadership in Australia is more difficult than in some other countries where people are more used to exercising power or faithfully following a leader, and I agree that Australian leaders need to do better. I am not convinced that Australian attitudes to leadership are entirely derived from our history, but I do believe that this book addresses important issues which need to be discussed and debated more widely.