What I learned about leadership from ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

The process of being a leader and nurturing leaders is never-ending. From being aware of our biases to changing how we communicate our vision as social and technological landscapes change, leaders must evolve in significant ways to ensure limitations don’t hold them back.

The ACT Chief Minister knows the wisdom of being able to adapt and surround himself with people from diverse backgrounds to foster creativity and innovation. Navigating challenges that some might have accepted as impossible (such as the global pandemic), Chief Minister Barr believes in being clear about shared objectives, staying focussed on the task ahead, and remaining conscious of his own preferences and biases to make space for other perspectives.

In this interview, Chief Minister Andrew Barr shares his thoughts on leadership and nurturing the next generation of leaders…

How do you foster creativity and innovation in yourself and your team?

For my team – by having a diverse team from a range of backgrounds and life experiences, and making sure that everyone is comfortable in putting forward their perspectives and that their contributions to debates or discussions are welcome and valued. 

For myself – by being conscious of my own preferences and biases and being open to being challenged or having my mind changed. We can’t grow and evolve our own perspectives unless we make space to have the sometimes difficult debates. 

How do you decide whether to reset or persist and forge ahead?

I draw upon my own judgement and past experience and seek a broad circle of advice on the best pathway forward.

How do you cut through the 24-hour news cycle and communicate your vision? 

Politicians can no longer rely on traditional media coverage to communicate and engage with their constituents. People under the age of 35 are consuming media and information very differently to previous generations, and we are all having to adapt. 

The only way that a politician can communicate a vision to hundreds of thousands of people is through a multi-platform communication approach. 

Regardless of which channel we use, the best way to ‘cut through’ is to have a compelling message that people can respond to. People will react to what we have to say if they resonate with it and if they believe our message is relevant to them. 

How do you find and nurture the next generation leaders?

Finding the next generation, especially in a tight labor market is very challenging – sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk and go with your gut to bring in someone new that aligns with your values. 

Wherever possible I’m a strong believer in fostering leadership talent from within. I do this by providing clear development pathways and succession planning backed by a strong ethics base. This is then supported through on-the-job learning, formal training opportunities, mentoring and acting opportunities with constructing feedback.

How have executive coaches or mentors helped you in your career?

I haven’t had an “executive coach”, but that is not surprising given the nature of my work. Instead, I closely observe others in similar roles, consult widely and seek to learn from my experiences.

If the Chief could be in the room with my participants and me on 29 July, what would he tell us?

Leadership roles are challenging but rewarding.  I try to draw the best out of my team by being clear about our shared objectives and trying to remain focussed on the task ahead.  

 Define and achieve your own leadership vision

Join Dr. Kim Vella for the 1-day Achieve Your Leadership Vision Workshop. This will be held on 29 July, 2022 in Canberra.

Together, we will:

  • discuss the true meaning of a leadership vision and how it can change your life
  • uncover some of the roadblocks that may be obstructing your vision
  • define a clear and achievable vision you can aspire to
  • use practical tools to set a roadmap for success
  • address typical challenges you may face and how to overcome them

Seats are limited so register early to secure your spot. 

Register here >

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