It’s been an interesting year for me so far to say the least. I said goodbye to five years at the Australian Childhood Foundation, and was warmly welcomed as the new CEO at the Australian Childhood Trauma Group – yes, the similarity in organisation title can be hard to remember on days! I wanted to use this first blog as a new CEO to share with you some of my leadership “takeaways”, many of these elements I have been fortunate enough to have either experienced or observed in my personal and professional life from truly outstanding and considerate leaders.
Be Bold, don’t be afraid of risk and have a go!
As a new CEO, I am confronted with challenges every day. I am learning that it is okay to be afraid of what you don’t know -but take that fear and have a go! Be fearless in the attempt of taking on new challenges. Learn how to transition from one element of the role to the next and don’t be fearful to try something that is unfamiliar or risky. Embrace the lateral opportunities and take on the new challenges as they emerge (and that they will). I truly believe that you do not become a CEO without striving to try new things, doing some remarkably well, and even sometimes failing and learning from that failure. You have to be prepared to commit to change, and the unknown, and have the confidence to jump in and navigate, even when the waves are crashing around you.
Have confidants, people who are your “go to”!
Whether you call it your mentor, your board or the owner, or just close friends and family, a CEO must have someone to turn to. These key confidants are people you know and trust, and who will give you the truth when you need it the most. Being a CEO can be quite lonely, but having people who know who you are at your core and who unconditionally share the truth as you navigate through your new role, are essential to your personal and professional happiness.
Commit to realistic and achievable goal setting
After having worked in government, not-for profit, corporate and private organisations, every successful leader I have observed has a different framework for goal determination and decision-making. Whilst the choice of framework was different, a foundational determinant in all has been the incorporation of the leaders’ personal value and belief system. It is often your personal value and belief system that comes into play when you are faced with substantial decisions. I am learning just how important it is to bring every big decision back to those values that matter to you.
Growth is essential
The concept of growth is congruent to be a CEO. Growth is simply not about the “profit” and “loss” ledger, it is about broadening and strengthening the theoretical and practical underpinnings of your organisation, it is about being a change agent, and enabling the organisation and its personnel to be dynamic and transform as required. This past few weeks I have learned that you must keep your mind sharp and fresh with new ideas and learnings about your staff, your industry, or something completely outside of your comfort zone.
I hope this provides a snapshot insight in to the type of CEO I aspire to be, and by doing so will enable those around me, to hold me to account, and ensure that “what I say I do I actually try to do”. So, whether you’re just starting out in your career or trying to break through to the CEO club, my hope is that you surround yourself with leaders who inspire you to strive, take risks and be appropriately challenged.
The Australian Childhood Trauma Group