Australian leadership: Diversity as our strength

| March 3, 2017

Simon McKeon AO is Monash University Chancellor, a philanthropist and international sportsman. He was awarded Australian of the Year 2011. Simon talked to about multiculturalism, rebellion and quiet achievers.

We think of ourselves as unique, although we’re not that unique in the true sense of the word. For example, in many of the countries that I have travelled to, they have their own endearing term for ‘mateship’ So I do not see ‘mateship’ as particularly unique to Australians.

A central part of this question is the word ‘unique’.

I found myself thinking about the word unique, and one thing struck me and that is in contemporary Australia we are strongly multicultural. Thinking about the teams I am a member of; none of them are mono-cultural. They are all multicultural. This is something approaching “unique”.

Diversity and leadership

Relative to other countries, Australia is right up there in being diverse. This tells me that being a leader in Australia poses challenges around the diversity a leader needs to manage.

I’d like to think it’s innate for Australian leaders to ask: What are the backgrounds of the diverse team that I am leading? Where do they come from and how best can I communicate with them considering their backgrounds?

A leader will need to choose a particular leadership style that will work given the diversity and cross cultures of his team.

In contrast, countries such as Norway and Japan are comparatively monoculture.

I think we could use the challenge of diversity in our culture, compared to other countries, to develop and equip our leaders to be particularly relevant in a globalising and increasingly multicultural world.

To read the full interview click on this link. To participate in the Australian Leadership Project please fill in the survey on Australian Leadership.