Twice this year, separately on Zoom and in face-to-face interview, two senior executives started speaking about their Super Powers; as in “my Super Power is problem solving” or “my Super Power is building consensus”. And as those words sprouted forth from their mouths, I held my poker face and listened with intent… trying not to burst out laughing. Did I miss the latest fad – some accredited professional trend, or is this the sharpest new term in career coaching? One day ‘pivot’ is for gymnasts and fertilisers, the next year it’s part of the corporate lexicon.

2021 has been a funny year, in both senses of the word. So let me take the funny/perplexing route for a moment – our perplexing federal parliamentary culture.

There’s been a flood of worrying news coming out of the big house on the hill in Canberra, in particular the ongoing uncivilised behaviour and poor conduct that parades as acceptable parliamentary practice, and which must surely impact decision making. No organisation we work with would tolerate, let alone be in business, if that were acceptable behaviour. Where is the light that illuminates the path towards a progressive and inclusive future for Australia? I hope 2021 is the year of reckoning and that both sides of politics, as well as the minor parties and the independents, can bring the better versions of themselves to the benches in 2022. Thank you to those in office who model better conduct.

Who doesn’t love to say ‘thank you’ for a job well done? In our digital world, it’s become easy to tick the box or click on the star that provides feedback on service received.  Well, 2021 you made me laugh when after dropping my car in for a service, I discovered feedback can be scammed too.

Hi Anita

XXX has sent out a survey email to you about our services that we provided to you and your vehicle from our dealership. If you can please give me 5 STARS for Question No 1 which represents myself that would very helpful for my career.

LOL (I really did laugh out loud). This cheeky guy doesn’t need my help – the job market is so tight, his employer wouldn’t dream of letting him go right now, but of course I dutifully thanked him for his 5-star service anyway, and realised these star ratings are now fabricated by inducement.

On the flip side, I had an exceptional experience with a financial services provider who had a better strategy for acting on customer feedback. Within 30 minutes of submitting my survey, I received a call from their CEO. Impressive!

Here’s a funny/strange story that tinged my usual optimism with despair. Let’s call my protagonist Corinne. With a career of 25 years behind her, Corinne joined a Tier 1 consultancy as a partner last year. After 18 months, she was asked to lead their internal gender equity project. Similarly, she did this in her last role as a COO of a public company, before that in a multinational consultancy, and again before that in her very first graduate role in FMCG. What’s wrong with this story is that there are several red flags. Perhaps like me you’re surprised that after 25 years we’re still striving for gender equity.  And why is it so often a woman (or female identifying person) who is charged with leading gender equity projects; why aren’t the blokes doing more of the heavy lifting? Ladies and gentlemen, in the world of corporates, government, small business, education and NGOs, we’re better than this.

There are countless brilliant stories of leaders who are finishing off this year on a high and I’m preparing a separate blog on these inspiring leaders for the new year.

So, as we hoover up the days in December towards the end of the year, it’s a Friday in Melbourne and the rain has eased. I’m cleaning up work files and chasing up some life admin. Life’s good. The job market is extremely buoyant, our business is about to migrate to a tailored CRM (developed in Australia by Australian designers and software engineers) and my colleagues are tremendous human beings.  Yes, there’ll be some uncomfortable wages pressure and talent squeezes, but the city feels it’s on the mend.  2022, I’m looking forward to living the best you can offer.

 

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Anita is the Executive Director of Slade Group, and a member of the advisory board. In a career spanning roles working in government, not-for-profit, public company and the SME sector, Anita has a broad view of the landscape of Australians at work. Committed to making a difference in her professional and personal life, Anita is a Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas, previous Chair of Melbourne Girls Grammar School, and a Non Executive Director of online men's’ lifestyle publisher Boss Hunting.