My job occasionally requires me to visit diverse parts of Australia. Working for the Commonwealth of Australia and having a national role means I need to meet people and provide services and advise.
Since I returned to work in mid-May from my 2015 World Trip (India & Japan) in a period of 35 days and across 12 flights I visited all points of the country, Hobart, Adelaide, Townsville (at first for me), Brisbane, Canberra and Perth from my home base in Melbourne. The only capital I missed was Sydney (I visited there just before my world trip), and in Melbourne I was on the road a lot visiting key clients. I’m not sure if my team know I’ve really returned from holidays 🙂 I’d also hate to know my carbon footprint.
These trips reminded me of how big our continent and country really is. It took 4 hours to fly to Perth from Melbourne and Melbourne to Townsville took even longer with a change of plane in Brisbane. This allowed me to experience the differences between Australians and the similarities. I always felt safe, people where always friendly, and big cities always have a strip club in the CBD sometimes near a Church!
The main purpose of these trips was to motivate our front line staff to imbrace a new work strategy that requires cultural change to achieve. It requires people to get out of their comfort zone, work hard and expect more conflict and disagreements in their dealings as they apply the law and more appropriate sanctions / outcomes for breaches.
This requires trust not just the frontline staff but me to trust them, and really a leader needs to start with trusting his or her people first. I’ve been building to this new approach for a number of years working on the premise people want to know they aren’t just doing busy work, that their role matters. I’m fortunate that I can demonstrate I’m not a senior leader blow in, here to destory a workplace and leave with no responsibility. I can point to ideas from their colleagues we have implemented and how full credit was given.
I can show how I was doing the same job they are currently doing, I know the frustrations and the difficulties, that I stay to the end and I’m far more interested on implementation and results than just talk and ideas. Almost universally the staff were enthusiastic and engaged, I received innovative ideas that I had never considered. It reminded me that what stops most people achieving in big organisations is bureaucracy and lack of leadership empowerment.
Now I need to take a short mental break, build relationships with my people in Melbourne, recover from these trips (they tire you out quickly in particular the public speaking events I also deliver as a secondary task) and turn these words into actions and celebrate and support those how deliver value.
Oh and I need to visit more of Australia on holidays. I still need to explore more of Western Australia. Broome and an overland trip to Darwin is still on my wish list.