During times of crisis or, perhaps more aptly, during 'focusing events', leadership is critical. Having experienced a sequence of focusing events since December, many of us have compared the characteristics of good (and not so good) leaders. As you read the names of Jacinda Arden, Scott Morrison, Donald Trump, and Boris Johnson, I'm sure you have already formed views on their leadership traits during these events. And one of the most important traits is authenticity.
Recent research involving 830 business people in Australia identified how the behaviour of their leaders shapes their feelings about work. And authentic leadership was a stand-out: for example, employees were 40% more likely to want to come to work when they saw their line manager as an authentic leader.
According to the research, the authentic leadership qualities these employees looked for in their workplaces could be summarised into four elements. Authentic leaders:
- 'Know thyself'
They know what truly matters to them (their values) and their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Follow a moral compass
They have the courage to stand up and act on their values rather than bending to social norms.
- Appreciate their own biases
They try hard to see things from the viewpoints of others, take these perspectives into consideration before forming opinions and making important decisions.
- Are open and honest
They show their vulnerabilities through active disclosure, thereby cultivating open and honest relationships.
The annual State of the Public Sector report released a few weeks ago revealed that the water industry's leaders are being recognised for such traits of authentic leadership. Contributing to our overall leadership across the public sector, 76% of employees agreed that their senior leaders: provide clear strategy and direction; model their organisation’s values; support staff to work in an environment of change; actively support diversity and inclusion in the workplace; and demonstrate honesty and integrity, compared with 63% of overall public sector employees.
Having in place these foundations of authentic leadership, we can be confident that our industry will be sustained through the next series of focusing events.
This month is exciting for VicWater. We have been building a series of industry engagements aimed at driving change. One of these, the Policy Forum of 17-18 June, will engage our members in the priority issues facing our industry and how we plan to address them. The outputs of this work will focus our attention on what matters to you for our advocacy and policy development.
We are also working with WSAA to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector and how it corresponds with future industry planning and community engagement. We expect to run an event in mid-July on the results of this work. Please keep a lookout for this event.
Finally, thank you for completing our Annual Member Survey. This is a key source of information to refine our services to you and ensure that we are on track to meet your needs. In addition to the survey, you are welcome to contact me with your feedback anytime.
Chief Executive Officer
03 9639 8868