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by Laurence Gration, CAE, KCSAE Director

Introduction:

My leadership and management journey began in the work world when I embarked on an apprenticeship to become a chef. I was fortunate to attend the top culinary school in Australia, which provided me with a solid education. By the age of 19, I was promoted to the position of third chef, overseeing a team of about 100 people, including those who had once taught me. This early success led me to my first Professional Society board of directors position, marking the start of my continuing association career.

My culinary education was a rich experience that taught me the art of cooking. However, it needed to equip me with the skills to manage or lead others. Thankfully, the world-class hotel I worked for recognized my potential and enrolled me in their management program. This was another valuable learning experience, but it still left me wanting to understand more about people and leadership.

A deep thirst for knowledge, personal growth, and a solid gift of the gab drove my journey into leadership. I was fortunate to be noticed by an international catering products manufacturer, who saw my potential and invested in my development by enrolling me in their management program. This path led me to university, where I earned a Bachelor of Business degree and began grasping leadership's theoretical essence.

With three postgraduate degrees and a wealth of Executive experience spanning several decades and countries, I confidently assert that leadership and management are the foundational pillars of organizational success. Each plays a distinct yet interconnected role. While management focuses on operational efficiency and goal attainment, leadership is about inspiring, motivating, and empowering individuals to achieve their highest potential. In this article, I delve into leadership and management, comparing and contrasting successful leadership approaches, and emphasizing the Australian approach to leadership success, which values inclusivity, pragmatism, and egalitarianism.

Management vs. Leadership:

In the book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis presents a list of key differences between managers and leaders, including:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people

Managers pursue goals through coordinated actions, tactical processes, tasks, and activities that unfold in stages to achieve a specific outcome. For example, we may implement a decision-making process when leading a critical meeting or devising a plan to communicate organizational changes.

On the other hand, leaders need to be more focused on organizing people to get work done and finding ways to align and influence them.

Management involves the coordination of resources, execution of tasks, and enforcement of processes to achieve organizational objectives efficiently. It operates within established frameworks and relies on authority to ensure compliance. On the other hand, leadership transcends management by inspiring and nurturing individuals, fostering their growth and development. As Peter Drucker eloquently stated, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." While management prioritizes efficiency, leadership focuses on vision, inspiration, and empowerment.

To exemplify this contrast, let us examine association management, where the distinction between management and leadership is equally pronounced. In managing an association, essential operational tasks must be overseen to ensure the smooth functioning of the organization. These tasks include membership management, event coordination, financial oversight, and regulatory compliance. Managers within nonprofit associations are responsible for executing these operational duties efficiently and effectively.

For example, a nonprofit association manager may oversee the organization's membership database, ensuring that member records are up-to-date, dues are promptly collected, and member inquiries are addressed in a timely manner. Additionally, they may coordinate logistics for events, such as conferences, workshops, and fundraising galas, to ensure that they run smoothly and meet the objectives of the association's board.

However, association management leadership extends beyond these operational tasks. A leader within a nonprofit association inspires passion and commitment among staff, volunteers, and all stakeholders, rallying them to the organization's mission and vision. We cultivate a culture of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity, empowering those around us to contribute their unique talent and perspectives to advance the association's goals.

For instance, a nonprofit association CEO may spearhead initiatives to engage members in meaningful ways, such as developing mentorship programs, creating networking opportunities, or launching advocacy campaigns for the association's cause. We work tirelessly to build relationships with key stakeholders, including sponsors, partners, and policymakers, to garner support for the association's mission and initiatives.

By emphasizing the broader vision and inspiring others to act, true leaders in nonprofit association management create impactful experiences for members, donors, and beneficiaries alike. We drive long-term success for the organization by fostering a sense of community, purpose, and collective impact among all those involved.

While association management focuses on executing operational tasks and ensuring organizational efficiency, leadership encompasses inspiring, motivating, and empowering individuals to achieve the association's mission and vision. Through the synergy of effective management and transformative leadership, our associations fulfill their potential and make a meaningful difference in the world.

The Multiplier Effect:

Wiseman and McKeown elucidated the concept of the multiplier effect, underscoring the significance of empowering leadership. Multipliers amplify the capabilities of their team members by empowering, challenging, and encouraging them to excel. They believe in their team's potential and create environments conducive to growth. In contrast, diminishers stifle talent through micromanagement and lack of trust, hindering long-term morale and innovation.

To gain further insight into the multiplier effect, we examine the study conducted by Wiseman and McKeown. Their analysis of leadership styles among executives in Fortune 500 companies revealed that organizations led by multipliers consistently outperform those led by diminishers. These multipliers demonstrate higher levels of innovation, employee engagement, and financial performance. For instance, companies with multiplier leaders experience greater employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and increased profitability than their counterparts. This study underscores the tangible benefits of empowering leadership and its profound impact on organizational success.

However, all too often in the nonprofit world, where volunteer boards engage us, we encounter diminishers who seek to be the most competent and smartest person in the room, in charge of and controlling everything. These people can harshly block team members' abilities to develop and achieve, missing opportunities for even themselves to achieve for the organization - simply to ensure they come out looking like the top dog.

Empowering Leadership in Action:

Influential leaders recognize that their success is intertwined with the success of those they lead. By fostering trust, collaboration, and empowerment, they create a culture where individuals feel valued and motivated to excel. Mahatma Gandhi's profound words resonate here: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Authentic leadership is characterized by selflessness, compassion, and commitment to positive impacts.

Australia has a vastly different underlying culture, and our own leadership style is not as readily recognized here in the US. The key to the Australian leadership style is fellowship, or leading by walking alongside, distinct from leading by being in front. Australian leaders need to show high performance levels so those following them will accept them without appearing obnoxious or too charismatic. (The Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well!).

Australians value egalitarianism, especially what is seen as effective leadership. Australians will follow and respect a leader if they are not arrogant in leadership. Australians have a problem with perceived attitudes of ‘I am the best and know the most.’ Although this style may not resonate with the US, it has undoubtedly served Australia well and has brought much success on the world stage. One man has shown that it can work here, as well.

The idea of ‘mateship’ comes alive in the Australian context. Leading by utilizing the fellowship style implies that those who follow do so because of a personal connection to the leader. This is clearly demonstrated when looking at two of Australia's longest-serving Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke and John Howard. Both intended to be ’mates’ with Australian people. This was Hawke’s natural style, and Howard had to work at it but ultimately succeeded. Australians are connected to this ordinariness. Australians were OK with their success so long as they did not sense that the Prime Minister thought he was better than them. In contrast, in the US, presidents have tried to build an image with the American people, and they could be the guy you could have a beer with – their mate. This did not work because they wanted a leader to be someone better than them.

To be an effective leader in Australia, people must be respected. In the US, the position is respected, and the person in that position must live up to expectations. Trust and respect are critical elements of leadership in both America and Australia, but how they are achieved is vastly different. Holding a position in society is more significant to Americans than it would be to Australians, who respect individual worth before status.

To illustrate empowering leadership within the context of nonprofit associations, let us explore the example of Sarah Patel, executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). Under Patel's leadership, the ACF embarked on a transformative journey, addressing pressing environmental challenges and galvanizing support for conservation efforts nationwide.

When she assumed leadership in the ACF, the organization faced significant hurdles, including declining membership, limited resources, and growing public apathy towards environmental issues. Instead of resorting to traditional strategies, Patel adopted a bold and inclusive approach, engaging stakeholders, volunteers, and community members to shape the organization's future.

One of Patel's key initiatives was the "ACF Empowerment Campaign," which aimed to mobilize grassroots support and empower individuals to take meaningful action for environmental conservation. Through targeted outreach efforts, Patel and her team inspired thousands of Australians to participate actively in the ACF's mission through volunteering, fundraising, and advocacy.

Patel recognized the importance of innovation and collaboration in tackling complex environmental challenges. She spearheaded partnerships with like-minded organizations, government agencies, and indigenous communities to leverage collective expertise and resources for a more significant impact.

Like many of us in this profession, Patel forged alliances with local groups to advocate for the full development of her organization’s goals. By uniting diverse stakeholders under a shared vision, Patel amplified the ACF's advocacy efforts and achieved significant policy wins, such as establishing new marine sanctuaries and implementing sustainable land management practices.

Patel prioritized investment in staff development and capacity-building initiatives to nurture a culture of excellence and innovation within the ACF. She empowered staff members to unleash their full potential and drive positive changes within the organization and beyond through tailored training programmes, mentorship opportunities, and employee recognition schemes.

Under Patel's empowering leadership, the ACF experienced a resurgence in public support, membership growth, and organizational effectiveness. By fostering a culture of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity, Patel revitalized the ACF and positioned it as a leading voice for environmental conservation in Australia.

Australian Business Management Style:

Australian managers embrace a consultative approach that prioritizes open debate and inclusivity. Pragmatism takes precedence over hierarchical formalities with an emphasis on successful task completion. Australian leaders are expected to be approachable and perform excellently, without arrogance. The Australian leadership style emphasizes fellowship and egalitarianism, with leaders walking alongside their followers rather than leading from a pedestal.

To delve deeper into the Australian business management style, let us explore a study conducted by Hofstede Insights that compared cultural dimensions between Australia and the United States. The study revealed that Australian managers ranked higher in strategic behavior, persuasion, and effective communication than their American counterparts did. The multiplier effect’s cultural inclination towards inclusivity and collaboration aligns with the Australian leadership style, which values consultation and openness from diverse perspectives. Additionally, the study highlighted the importance of egalitarianism in Australian culture, where managers are expected to be respectful and approachable, fostering camaraderie and teamwork within organizations.

Implications for Practice

Building on my experience, academic theories, and empirical evidence, I have proven the practical implications for organizational leaders and practitioners in Australia, the USA, and worldwide over my decades. The Multiplier Effect offers actionable applications for fostering empowering leadership cultures, enhancing communication and collaboration, and embracing diversity and inclusivity within our organizations. Moreover, it provides strategies for aligning leadership practices with organizational goals and values, facilitating sustainable growth and innovation.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, leadership is all about the people rather than focusing on the task, whether using the Australian, US, or other management styles. Working with our people allows each to contribute a complementary element to the team's success. By embracing empowering leadership practices and adopting a servant-leadership mindset, leaders can unlock the full potential of individuals and, ultimately, our organizations. The Australian leadership style, characterized by inclusivity, pragmatism, and egalitarianism, offers valuable insights into effective leadership practices. Effective leadership can inspire greatness, foster innovation, and pave the way for a brighter future for all stakeholders, enhancing your own success and attainment without focusing on the result.

Comment

To be an effective leader in Australia, one must respect others. This principle works here, too, to great effect.

 

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