The message is getting out

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —February 27, 2006
Filed in Leadership

EssendonI attended the Victorian Public Service Continuous Improvement Network (VPSCIN) seminar today. Peter Jackson, Essendon Football Club’s CEO, delivered an excellent talk on ‘leadership.’ Peter has been CEO for the last 10 years and has learned two important lessons:

  1. Variety in your leadership team is essential. Peter spent the first 8 or his 10 years as CEO employing clones of himself. Each one was highly motivated, task-focussed individual. These people, in turn, employed clones of themselves. The club was full of Peters. He said “we were doing things right, but not the right things.” In the last two years Peter has reorganised and set out to employ people different to himself. He has found it tough communicating with creative and intuitive people but knows it will be good for the club to have more creative input.
  2. The leader does not control the club; the players control the club. The CEO’s role is to create a conducive environment for players to thrive—sounds like knowledge workers (here is a paper I wrote a few years ago on knowledge strategy with a similar message about knowledge environments). Peter also observed that it was just as important to know who are the ‘water-cooler leaders’—and know what they are saying—than those in the formal organisation.

With more than 300 people in the room it was great to hear these messages clearly articulated by a respected business leader. Better still, it was delivered by the CEO of the best AFL team in the competition (OK, OK, so I’m an Essendon supporter).

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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