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Leadership Development

A Discussion Paper


What Is Leadership
Universally leadership has three elements:

  1. defining what needs to be done,
  2. determining how to do it, and
  3. getting people to do it.

A large part of leadership is about shaping and influencing people's behaviour to encourage the outcomes that meet the purpose of the organisation. The global workplace and trends increases the complexity of how leaders achieve this. Therefore one of the biggest challenges for leaders is managing the uncertainty, complexity and rate of change these trends present (change resilience and capability).

In understanding leadership we need also to take into account the typical leadership style of Australian managers. Culturally, Australians are highly "people sensitive", giving everyone a fair go: yet there is a facade of toughness to hide our sensitivity. In Australia we are also suspicious of people in authority. The leadership style of our culture is one of the challenges that we face in developing effective and fair leadership within our organisations.

To thrive in this environment leaders and their organisations need to pro-actively drive their ongoing professional and personal development (continuous learning).

The 1995 Karpin Report on leadership and management in Australia emphasised the need to deal with behavioural and interpersonal aspects of strategy. These issues were put forward as pivotal to the development of world-class leadership in Australia.

This view is further confirmed in the Hay/McBer CEO Leadership Study (Mastering Global Leadership) conducted in 1997 to identify the qualities of superior CEOs. The findings of this cross-cultural study concluded that multinational executives are in a much stronger position to respond proactively to international challenges when they align business strategies, policies, and behaviours with cultural requirements.

As the best leaders make complex choices about the future, they identify and use culturally driven competencies critical for success in a global market. The framework for making these choices relies on a manager's ability to adapt their leadership style along three key dimensions.


Success Drivers
The Hay/McBer study also shows that Success Drivers are a key component in global leadership, i.e.

  • The need to achieve: measuring ones own performance against professional and personal goals and challenges
  • Initiating action: taking persistent and consistent action to take advantage of opportunities and prevent problems
  • Self confidence: decision making, pursuit of goals, merits of a course of action
  • Social responsibility: strong values, influencing for the benefit of the larger group, broad role beyond the organisation, social themes, environment, cultural diversity.

Universal Competencies
Supporting the key dimensions are the universal competencies that leaders need to develop.

Universal Competencies
the Focus

Broad scanning
Searching for knowledge
Analytical thinking
Conceptual thinking
Decisive insight

Global awareness/mindset
Technological understanding
Systemic thinking
Options development
Rapid decision making
Customer focus
Achievement orientation


Organisation know-how
People judgement
Gaining co-operation and
Influence and impact

People development
  (including mentoring)
Cross cultural influencing
  and negotiation skills
Emotional resilience and
Change resilience and
Matching style to situation
Achievement environment


Need to achieve
Social responsibility
Initiating action

Continuous learning
Personal balance
  and management
Applying ethics and

Move on to next section of this article Leadership Development.


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