Is it Right or Wrong?

a1fbfd113fa9ebd97b0a744a5f77ad99Last night I watched the movie Sicario at the local movie theatre. I enjoyed the movie and was expecting a movie with a bit more action. That said it did get me thinking about what is right and wrong? One of the lead actors, a female FBI agent struggled with the methods that were used by an interagency task force to fight a Mexican Drug cartel.

When it comes to morals and ethics everyone has a different view of where the line is drawn between right and wrong.  This can be based on background, experience, training and culture. In the USA the FBI agent at the start of the movie came across a gruesome discovery in a raid. Also the raid lead to the death of two law engagement officers.

With this background the FBI agent was keen to make a positive impact in the war against the drug cartel. However to do this the team she was teamed up with challenged her definition of what was right and wrong. Though the methods were uncomfortable with her she did appreciate that they got results.

There is a saying that “the ends do not justify the means”. This is true, though when considering the means we need to consider our values, the law and the difference understandings between the different stakeholders. Is living by my values going to be able to gel with difference with the key stakeholders? If not this is going to cause personal challenge for you… What should you do in this situation? I do not know, only you can decide in this situation.


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Leadership is about Influence

1cdf27c8f43ec300fbe181bf86937860Many people view people that hold a senior role in an organisation or government as a leader. This is true in a sense and is often referred to as positional leadership. In positional leadership a person is delegated responsibility and authority based on their role in an organisation. Is positional leadership the only sort of leadership?

I do not think so…. I believe that we can all be leaders. We all have strengths, skills, passions, knowledge and experiences that if we shared with the world, the world would be a better place. We can provide leadership in these areas of strengths and expertise and make a difference in the lives of others.

I believe that leadership is more about influence than it is about authority. Yes with positional leadership there is authority attached to roles. This is an important part of leadership in an organisation. But imagine if you led through influence rather than authority. You do not need to hold a senior role to have people look to you for advice, guidance or direction.

You may have experienced times in your life when people come to you for help, advice and leadership even when you do not hold a senior role or position. This is because you have influence. Influence is developed through connection with others, living by a set of values and helping people to achieve their mission.

It is like what Zig Ziglar used to say “You can have everything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” So we can all develop our influential leadership through connecting and helping others. Even if you are in a senior position and have authority, I encourage you to operate with influential leadership. In my experience you will get the best from people when you treat them like a volunteer, even if they are a paid staff member.

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Last day at Communities@Work

commsatworkAs I wake up this morning it is a beautiful day. The sun is out, the birds are singing and the world seems so perfect. Today is a different day than normal. After just under three years at Communities@Work I will finish up for the last time this afternoon. It is almost surreal to know that I will not be heading to the office on Lake Tuggeranong next week and not because I am on leave, but because I no longer work there.

During my time at Communities@Work I have had four different roles, worked from multiple workstations and completed a number of projects for the organisation. As I reflect back though on my time in the organisation it is not the rollout of EasyEmployer timesheet management system, assisting the merger with another organisation, the multiple fundraisers I coordinated (Go Yellow Day & Community Sleepouts) or the implementation of the Quality Management System that is the highlight.

In the end it is about the people…. There are some really good people in the organisation that care about the outcomes they deliver for their clients and stakeholders. Even the ISO9001:2008 auditors commented about how much the people in the organisation care and want to deliver the best possible service. There is a culture of wanting to do the best and always seeking ways to improve.

Since my departure was announced on Wednesday, I have been really touched by the number of people that have wished me the best. The number of emails, personal farewells, cuppas and lunches has really touched me. As I move on to my next adventure I know that I have made some friends among the staff at Communities@Work. The friends I have made at Communities@Work has certainly been the highlight of my time there.

So what is next…. People have asked what is my next adventure. Well, the first step is to spend next week with my children that are on School Holidays. Then I have a little bit of work with the  Army to catch up on in the following week as I start my handover of my army role. Which just so happens that I am also transiting my army role at the end of the year. In the short term I will do some consulting, coaching and training which is something that I have been doing in my limited spare time.

However, in the longer term I will look at leadership opportunities where I can have a positive impact in the world. This may be in business, politics, another organisation or a combination of these options. Stay tuned for what adventure or adventures lay ahead. One thing you can be sure of is that I will blog about them.


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Three Months of Blogging

AttilaOvari BannerWell it is the first of October and I restarted my daily blogging at the beginning of July…. That makes it three months, over 90 days, that I have published a daily blog post. It has not even felt like a task, it has actually been enjoyable and something that I look forward to each day. That said my blogging may be a little selfish, as it is a little therapeutic for me to do.

I started my blogging adventure a few years ago when I was appointed as the Senior Manager on Social Media working group for the organisation that I worked for at the time. I felt that I needed to learn and experience social media and blogging if this was a role I was to do. This has led to an amazing adventure of blogging and using social media.

However the challenge I have with my blogging is that it initially lack a purpose or a target audience. I just seem to blog about whatever gets into my head at the time. I apologise if you read my blog posts and wonder at times what the hell I am blogging about. However in recent times I have found my focus. This focus has been around my passion for being passionate about life and empowering others through inspiration.

My blogging in recent times has been about living life with passion and how everyday things can be opportunities to explore adventure. In addition there are things in our lives that motivate us and inspire us to be better at what we do. I would like to think that we can focus in these areas and inspire each other to greatness.

I look forward to continuing my blog talking about life’s passion and inspirational thoughts. I hope that you too get a daily uplift from the blog posts. As I move forward into the future and get inspired by whatever life brings my way I will continue to share these inspirations thoughts. And most of all I wish you a life of passion, adventure and inspiration.

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Reformed Control Freak


  • Do you feel more at ease when you know the detail of what the team is doing?
  • Do you like to be in charge and feel at ease when you are directing the team?
  • Do you tell the team how to do something rather than what needs to be done?

I know that I can answer “Yes” to all of the above. If you answered “yes” to the above questions you may also be a control freak. I can recall in my days as a Lieutenant in the Army I would like to drive the vehicle, even if I had soldiers to do that. It was all because I like to have control. Yes, I was keen on a result, but I was too directive when it came to the how to achieve these outcomes.

This comes back to what is the role of a leader? Is it to achieve the desired outcomes as directed? Or is the role of a leader to build the capability of the team in order to achieve desired outcomes long term? Is a Leader to utilise the skills and knowledge of the team to achieve the best possible outcomes? In the end a leader does not have all the answers and I see the role of the leader to set a vision, mission and values and then facilitate the team’s skills, knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible outcome.

What I have found from my past experiences is that being a control freak can sometimes in the short term achieve good results, however in the long term it is tiring to maintain the results as a control freak. I have seen this happen many times in the past where I have driven a process or mission, just to see it fall apart when I left that organisation. I had focused on the short term results in those cases without building the long term capacity.

So if you are a control freak, join me and reform. Yes, I will slip back into bad habits in the future, but I will then pull myself up and reform once again. Instead of thinking about the how to do something, I am now focused on the vision, mission and values and communicating this to my team. Through setting the framework and then supporting the team and building the capability of the team I am getting better results long term. Yes, in the short term there are errors and suboptimal outcomes. However I have less stress and in the end there are better outcomes in the long term.

  • Are you a control freak?
  • Are you reformed?
  • What is one thing that you can do in the next week to reform?


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Muscles, Brains or Heart

bca9494278c73622d54335c4d7def42eAs a leader in any organisation you need to ask yourself if your team is giving you their muscles, their brain or their heart. In the late 1800s Frederick Taylor looked at the application of labour in production as something that had to be efficiently managed. Labour was treated like a cog in the wheel of production. This approach viewed people for the muscles, physical effort, that they bring to the organisation.

Fortunately we have moved on from Taylorism and scientific management. Or have we? I see many organisations still treating their staff in a similar, production units, sort of way. Some have expanded a little to involving their team’s use of their brains….. Their team is offered the opportunity to think and apply initiative in a limited capacity.

Imagine if you had a workforce or team that applied their heart to their role. They had passion for what they do and they care about the outcomes for the clients and the organisation. What type of organisation would that be? It would be one that is harder to control, but one that would multiple the impacts that each team member adds to the outcomes of the organisation.

With passion team members will contribute to the organisations in way’s that cannot be planned or directed. For example in recent Army Exercises I have been involved in the passion in the team was so high that they did things like extra weapons training in their own time and produced tools and materials that added value to their role. The team took the mission of the team and really contributed far beyond what was the requirement for themselves.

So how does this happen? I believe it is through setting the vision, the mission and the values of the organisation or team in the first instance. Then once there is an understanding to what is to be achieved and the manner in which the team is to operate then we build an environment where ideas are welcomed, supported and rewarded. Yes, there will be some mistakes, however these are learning points to be shared with the team.

  • In your role do you manage and control your team use of muscles and brain?
  • In your role do you support the team’s use of heart and passion?
  • In what way can you better support your team’s use of their passion?


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For us or Against Us

495f6a65c50b12d13e19ad8d040a7dabI very often hear people say “If they are not for us, they are against us”. I have never believed this and thought this to be a short sighted view of the world. There are plenty of people that are not for or against us. Some will be stakeholders with their own agenda’s and some will be members of the community.

Yesterday I heard the following quote from the Bible “For whoever is not against us is for us.” It is from Mark 9:40. I thought “Wow”, that is another spin on things. In this part of the Bible the disciples were telling off a person that was doing things in the name of Jesus, but this person was not part of their group. Jesus responded with the “For whoever is not against us is for us.”

What a paradigm shift. In the first quote “If they are not for us, they are against us” there is the assumption that people are against us….. That would make you a lot of enemies. In the second quote “For whoever is not against us is for us” makes the assumption that people are your friends. Imagine a world full of friends.

Imagine if we were open to have everyone as our friend. What a great world it would be if we assumed people were for us. Imagine the difference in our thinking and actions if we had the assumption that people are for us. I can see a world of less stress, more friends and greater collaboration.

  • Do you assume people are for you or against you?
  • What is a way things would change if you assumed people are for you?
  • What could you achieve with the assumption that people are for you?


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Making Fun out of Anything

DSC_1937Sometimes situations can seem a little uncomfortable. Yet have you noticed that some people still seem to have fun. It does not matter what is happening around them they find a way to bring a smile to themselves and others around them. Yes, there are times when fun is not appropriate, but at other times why not enjoy the process….

When living in the field with the army it is not the most comfortable. No showers, sleeping under a piece of plastic and eating ration packs. But, even then fun can be had….. If you have tried a ration pack you know there is not much good about them to write home about. However, even in a ration pack there is some fun to be had.

In each day’s ration pack I get a hot chocolate… Yummy. And a few coffees. The coffees are nothing flash, but do the job in keeping me awake when I have not sleep much. However every second day I combine the two hot chocolates with one coffee in my cups canteen and yummy….. I have a mocha or as I like to call it a double choc moc.

Okay, it is not really a mocha, but that is just a little example of the fun that can be had when living in the field without the luxuries of home. It is funny how I look forward to having my double choc moc each second day. And my team all have a little bit of a laugh at how excited I am for the drink. But it is about making fun out of anything and bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

  • What is something that you have to do regularly that is not comfortable?
  • How do you make fun out of that task?
  • Does this bring smiles to you and your team?


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Smiling and Happiness

73378a3acbadae3c7820e2e881d4a086Smiling is a great way to introduce yourself to someone else. Smiling is a great way to give people a lift. A smile is something that you can give someone and yet it will not take away anything from yourself. When you give a smile and you get a smile back you are likely to have an even bigger smile.

So why do you smile? Do you smile because you are happy? It is easy to smile when you are happy. It is easy to smile when things are going well for you. But is this why you smile? For some people this would be the case. They smile because they are happy. When you smile you are likely to get a smile back from others and hence it is easier to stay happy.

We do all go through hard times and smiling would not be appropriate, however at other times when you are not feeling happy what would happen if you smiled?

Yesterday, we conducted a face to face promotion of the Canberra Community Sleepout in Canberra City. This involved promoting the Sleepout to people passing by. I was not feeling comfortable with this task. It did not bring a sense of happiness initially….. However I started out with smiling and saying “hello”. I did not worry about the Sleepout, just focused on smiling and saying “hello”. By the end of the promotion I was unbeat, having a great time and handed out a lot of flyers.

  • So was I smiling because I was happy or was I happy because I smiled?
  • What would happen if we forced ourselves to smile more?
  • Can smiling more improve our happiness?

Two Way Coaching

703218d71ef849bd50cbe919c4efd4ccWhat a great world we live in. With the technology advances coming so quickly, the ability of our mobile phone and computers trumps anything in the past. With the development of the Internet communication and collaboration has changed forever. Just yesterday in the office we were demonstrations the collaboration power of Google Docs. No longer is physical distance an issue.

With these changes and many, many more there has become an  interesting dynamic now in the modern workplace. In the past the senior people in an organisation, that are paid the most, had been in the organisation or industry the longest and knew the most. A young person would join an organisation and be coached or mentored by a wiser, more knowledgeable older person that had all the answers.

I challenge us to review this model, as I do not think this is still the case. Younger people are entering the organisation with skills and knowledge that some of the senior people lack, in particular around technology and communication. Afterall this is a time of massive change.

But what does this mean?

I think that it is a great time for opportunity where we all can learn from each other. I know personally I ask for advice from my children regularly when it comes to technology, yet at the same time I still provide my wisdom to them about the world. While technology may change the technical skills I need to do my job, the principles in many cases remain the same.

I encourage us all to set up mutual two way coaching sessions…… This is where we learn and ask advice from people that know better in that knowledge area and in return we provide value within our knowledge areas. My experience with coaching my clients is that I get something out of every session too.

  • Are you brave enough to ask for advice from people junior to you?
  • Are you brave enough to ask for advice from people senior to you?
  • What value add can you provide to these two groups?


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