leadership that endures


A few posts back Pastor Brian Heath wrote a very timely article about the difference between a politician and a statesman. It picked up on a growing sense of frustration and dissatisfaction from the public with the standard of leadership in our country. 

For the last five years we have been bombarded with speculation over leadership changes, splits and demotions, commentators dissecting every speech and over-analysing every gesture, appearance and even tie colour. Much emphasis has been placed on the close opinion polls, but politicians and the media have missed the real story behind the polls – Australia is sick of the saga on both sides. 

Consider the four qualities identified by Dr Rufus Fears, a professor in the History of Freedom. A former student of Dr Fears, Brett McKay, has written that these characteristics that separate a statesman from a regular politician are an excellent yardstick to measure leaders. They are: 

1. A Bedrock of Principles:
A statesman builds his platform on a foundation of firm, unchanging, fundamental truths – regardless of what is popular at the time. These are the things he believes at his very core, his overarching philosophy. Politicians, on the other hand, allow their principles to be up for negotiation, depending on the public mood and their own agenda. They are willing to switch sides and compromise on their convictions. They therefore have very little foundation to build on. Regardless of how hard they work and how long they are in service, they do not leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. And regardless of how much publicity, air-time and notoriety they might have, the public is still unsure of who they are and what they stand for. 

2. A Moral Compass:
Dr. Fears argues that the modern politician makes decisions by using “antennae.” He puts his feelers out there to gauge the public mood. Once he figures out which way the wind is blowing, he then shapes himself and his message to give the people exactly what they want. But as Dr. Fears would hammer home again and again to his students: A statesman does not govern by public opinion polls. 

The true statesman makes his decisions by following the dictates of his own moral compass. He is not a relativist – believing that right and wrong differs from person to person and culture to culture; he believes in absolute truths, and this guides his own moral compass. When something is wrong, he plainly says it and does everything in his power to fight against it. When something is right, he is willing to overcome any opposition to preserve and spread it. 

3. A Vision:
A statesman has a clear vision of what his country and his people can become. He knows where he wants to take them and what it will take to get there. He must be able to recognise problems on the horizon and be able to come up with solutions that are good not only for the short-term, but for the long-term as well. The statesman keeps in mind not only the here and now, but the world future generations will inherit. 

4. The Ability to Build a Consensus to Achieve That Vision:
Because a statesman follows his moral compass instead of opinion polls, his ideas are often initially out of step with the public mood. But instead of tailoring his rhetoric to that mood, he speaks to the very best within his countrymen. He understands that while their ideals may be deeply buried, powerful rhetoric can bring them forth and activate them. His strength of conviction, even if his position is unpopular at the time, strikes a chord in the public. The support from his colleagues comes from the pressure they feel from their constituents to align themselves with the statesman’s vision. 

To win their hearts, the statesman does not use slick advertisements and PR campaigns. In fact, Fears argued that ads and propaganda were the tools of the despot. Rather, the statesman harnesses the power of the written, and especially the spoken word. He is a master orator. His study of great books and the lessons of history allow him to speak to the people in intelligent, potent, well-reasoned arguments. 



When we look at the leaders of today, we often find ourselves questioning the motives for them doing what they do. In an age where trust is low, we really like to put our leaders under scrutiny. It is a wonderful thing when you discover a truly honourable leader. 

I believe that one of the best places on earth to be is where a culture of honour has been developed over time. In an environment like this people are what truly matter. 

Today the places where you are investing a significant part of your life, places such as your workplace or a club, may not be enjoying the positive benefits that a culture like this can bring. But all is not lost, as a negative culture can be turned around with some hard work from its stakeholders. 

I often laugh when I hear people say “Karma will get you!” It is a saying that is used when others perform in a manner that is less than honourable. The truth is that there is a principle at work in the universe that some refer to as “the law of sowing and reaping” Being raised on a wheat farm in central Victoria, I saw this law in action every day from a very early age. The point is that to create a culture of honour you have to learn to sow honour in the first place. 

It can be hard work, but the benefits are absolutely huge! The results can include happier employees, greater loyalty, positive people, productive environments, stronger families, healthier communities and in many cases the success that is initiated can be secured for many generations to come. 

The definition of honour is broad but in a nutshell it means to treat another person with respect, to value them, to see the best in them. It also means to have a high level of morality and to be a person of your word. My observation has been that honourable leaders are often able to see further than others. They see the hidden qualities in those under their care and are able to bring the best out in them. 

When honour is lost in society or any organisation, it can have tragic and long term effects. Honour that goes missing can be very hard to recapture and may take time and energy to re-establish. When the culture of honour in a nation is damaged by the frivolity of its leaders it can take generations to recover. 

Personally I believe that one of the signs that honour is being lost, is that we have to legislate to see greater levels of respect and tolerance. The problem though is that you cannot legislate matters of the heart and honour is one such matter. Hence, making laws does not produce honourable citizens, employees or even leaders. 

Recently, I was very impacted by the movie “Courageous” It tells the story of four policemen who recognize a call to serve and protect their community. As law officers they are confident and focused, standing up to the worst the streets have to offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. 

Can they demonstrate the leadership required to create a culture of honour? They realize that honour begins at home. Truth is, honour can begin where you are!!



Over the last couple of years I have been a reluctant convert to “Smartphone Technology”. I must admit it has been a great way to keep up with what is happening in the world. For instance, news travels much faster by social media such as Facebook, rather than more traditional means. 

Part of the fun is trying to sort out what information is authentic, or what is of value and what is not. 

Recently, something came across my Facebook News Feed that really struck a chord with me. 

I am not sure who the originator is, so I can’t claim the credit, but we can all learn from this: 

Politicians versus Statesmen:
Politicians Talk it – Statesmen Walk it
Politicians run to Win – Statesmen run to Serve
Politicians are Idealogues – Statesmen are Open-minded
Politicians, “It’s all about me” – Statesmen, “it’s all about them”
Politicians focus on the next Election – Statesmen focus on the Future 

My thoughts right now, more than any other time in recent history, is that we need to see the emergence of true “Statesmen”. 

Politicians, who can talk the talk, but don’t really walk the walk are a dime a dozen. And let’s face it, we are all over it. 

Isn’t it amazing that in these days of political correctness you obviously have to hold your tongue at the football, even if you are a totally unaware 13-year-old kid from the bush. True racial abuse can never be accepted, but compare the actions and severe punishment of that child to the behaviour of our political leaders – who carry on the way they do, throwing insults across the floor, and yet legislate on our behalf. It is as though they are informing us uneducated folk about what is politically correct as far as respect and tolerance, and what is not. Mmm…Please give me a break…!! 

The late Dr. J. Rufus Fears, professor in the History of Freedom, says that a politician and a statesman are not the same thing. He argues that a statesman is not a tyrant. He is a free leader of a free people and he must possess four critical qualities: 

1. A bedrock of Principals 

2. A moral compass 

3. A vision 

4. The ability to build a consensus to achieve this vision 

Some indecisive electorates around the globe may well be rebelling against politicians and yearning for the arrival of a generation of “True Statesmen” who possess these genuine characteristics of Enduring Leadership. For example, the recent Malaysian national elections in May were marred by serious allegations of corruption and ended in the ruling party returning to power with only 47 per cent of the vote. Such is the need for the emergence of what he describes as “A new breed without greed”, my mentor Dr. Jonathan David is running The School of Statesmanship for the first time in Malaysia later this year. This is receiving much interest and support from people across the world who are obviously looking for a new type of leader, or hope to be built into that stature themselves. 

Well, it is only a matter of months until we go to the polls again for what will be a very important election. Can we be confident that a statesman will represent us accurately or will we be governed by politicians who will “sell out” to secure their own jobs? This is to be a shared responsibility between leaders and the electorate alike and we, the people, must ask the question: “Is he or she a Statesman or just another Politician?” 



A great test of leadership is the attitude any business or organisation has towards its most important asset, its people. 

Keep the gold in the ground, the cars in the factory and the ideas in the box…they’re going nowhere without the people to manage, create or produce it. This truth seems to be increasingly lost in today’s management culture, where people can often be treated more as “resources” than as “human”. 

Heartfelt values of accountability, trust and honesty between employer and employee are often exchanged for legalistic EBA’s, code’s of conduct and policy manuals. The effects of this attitude in an organisation can be reflected in poor morale and an atmosphere of distrust and hostility. 

You may have come across those corporate leaders who place a higher value on controlling people rather than building them, place greater priority on performance over relationship and seek personal glory rather than helping the people around them kick their own goals. 

A Florida State University study in 2007 found that a staggering 40% of people felt they worked for bad bosses. I’m sure there a few people in that lot who would be unhappy with whoever their manager was, but it’s likely the majority have a legitimate axe to grind. The leading reasons for rating their boss as “bad” from survey participants were that the boss:

1. Failed to keep their promises, 

2. Didn’t give them the credit they deserved, and,

3. Blamed them or other workers to cover up personal mistakes. 

Interestingly, none of these reasons relate to the boss’s ability to produce a graph in Excel or develop a business plan, but all relate to how the leader treated his staff as people. 

I wonder if we’d see a change in the manager’s approach if annual reviews and salary increases were assessed by the staff they managed rather than someone in “head office”? 

International leadership coach and New York Times bestseller John Maxwell offers some insight into staff attrition rates when he states that “people don’t leave organisations, they leave people”. 

Studies have indicated that bosses who create a positive work environment and relate well with staff have more productive employees who are more willing to work extra hours or go the extra mile for the company. 

There are some great examples of people focused leadership out there. Some time ago my wife’s supervisor rang me in the morning. Pouring with rain, he was concerned that she hadn’t arrived at work in Maffra and was just checking everything was ok. Wow! Now there’s a guy who genuinely cares. Not about the 8.30 start time policy…but about the person. By the way…he was ringing from the Melbourne office! 

It’s important that we achieve results, reach KPI’s and produce outputs, but those goals will be met faster and more consistently if we are genuinely considerate of the way we treat the people who are getting us those results. 

Within an organisation, an individual can take a battering emotionally and mentally from a range of pressures, demands and expectations. The leadership style of the manager can have a dramatic effect on the ability of the individual to cope with or be drowned by these pressures. Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees’ blood pressure rose when they were managed by someone they considered to be “unreasonable”. Supervisors need to be aware, responsible and accountable for the impact their management style is having on their staff. 

I always laugh at the story of my friend who, after being treated like a sack of potatoes for over 12 months by the hierarchy, eventually called a meeting with management and told them he had “decided to let them go!” It’s good to remember, we always have the choice to stay or not. 

Here’s hoping you arrive at work today under the guidance of someone who sees you as a person, not just a position on the org chart or a bum on a seat.



As we approach Remembrance Day next Tuesday 11th November we can once again expect record numbers of young people turning out to services around the country to commemorate those that have gone before us and paid the ultimate price for our nation. Australian soldiers gave their lives in the hope that we could continue to live with the foundations, heritage, values, culture and freedoms that make this nation great. These are what have underpinned our peace, our prosperity and set us apart as the ‘Lucky Country’. 

The spirit of sacrifice has captured the attention of a new generation who is connecting with the enduring values our service men and women lived by. There are some very important principals which exist to maintain these foundations. 


The greatest characteristic of a democratic society is freedom. The ability to make your own choice on who to vote for and what you believe about life, religion, politics or any other subject. This might seem standard, but there are places in the world where choice has been removed and people are told who to vote for and what to believe. Freedom is something that should never be taken for granted. It has been hard fought for, and when won, needs to be vigilantly protected. 


Along with the right to free choice is the right to free speech. People have the ability to express what they believe and why. Free speech can be messy, there will be conflicts, but this freedom must be upheld over the ideal for everyone to agree. This is why public discourse and debate is so important. It gives the public the chance to hear the voice of a variety of viewpoints and the arguments and logic behind each one. The problem occurs when public debate is stifled and only a select few viewpoints are given a voice. People disengage and there is a growing divide between every day Australians and the elitists whose viewpoints are difficult to connect with. For example, if you have listened to commentators, academics and elitists over the past few weeks you would have heard that we are culturally insensitive if we are patriotic, that our national flag is a symbol of racism and the simple idea of encouraging everyone in this country to be on the same team is divisive and offensive. 

Truth: is not relative. 

It does not change to suit me and my preferences, it requires me to change to suit it. The counterfeit for truth is trend. Trends come and go with what is popular at the time. A strong nation builds on the unshakeable, unchangeable foundation of truth which provides an anchor in a changing world. A nation built on trends will become confused about who it is and where it is going in the future. When basic values are attacked it undermines fundamental principles and nations slowly lose their identities. 

Cities and nations must be purposefully built. Could you imagine what would happen if you were building a house and you just decided to allow it to evolve however seemed fit at that moment? Would it be chaos? It is the responsibility of the next generation of Australians to rebuild what has been lost and recapture what it means to be a citizen of this great country. True leaders within our communities will rise to repair the foundations that Australia was built on and protect the future of generations of Australians to come.



One of the key ingredients to any healthy organisation is the “Care Factor” of the leadership, which ultimately impacts on the whole group. 

The Care Factor is the glue that causes people to stick together and head in the right direction. To be in a family, work in a business, or belong to an organisation where people are genuine in their concern for others makes work and life much more enjoyable. 

One of my concerns for society in general is that our overall care factor is being pressured downward. People sometimes say flippantly when under stress, “care factor = zero”, or “tell someone who cares”. This is expressing in a humorous way that they really couldn’t be bothered. 

Every day we hear or read of increasing domestic violence. We are hearing more about the damage caused by drug and alcohol abuse. We are confronted regularly with acts of terrorism somewhere in the world where mostly innocent people are paying the ultimate price. Things like this can have a polarising effect as people react to what they are seeing and hearing.

Our young people are going through a range of emotions as they engage in social media and flick through the newsfeed of their Facebook. If this becomes their reality, it can have a hardening effect and can reduce the Care Factor of the next generation that we are responsible for leading. 

When a leader really cares it adds something extra to the people, workplace or organisation they are responsible for. The care factor of any group can be measured and it can be easily improved by making a few changes. Below are five key elements that impact on our Care Factor: 

1. Contact:
Stay in contact with people under our care:
A phone call, visit, or small gift for someone in need can have a lifelong affect. Does the contact that takes place in our organisation demonstrate a high level of care? Our contact needs to be thoughtful, regular, consistent, genuine and positive. In business settings our contact must meet professional expectations, but will benefit greatly if it carries the personal touch. 

2. Co-operation:
Sometimes people on our team can be difficult to deal with. A leader who genuinely cares has the best chance of reaching them and turning them around to be significant contributors. Often those who have been our strongest resisters can become our strongest supporters if we gain their trust. 

3. Communication:
 The health of any group can be measured by its communication. The words that we choose are like the building blocks of a great family, business or organisation. Words can build up and they can pull down. The correct use of words can inspire greater performance and achievement. If our communication is forever limiting people, we may be stopping them from being the best they can be. 

4. Conflict management:
 The reality of any relationship is that there will be conflict, but if we are genuine in our care we will do all we can to work through conflicts that arise. In fact, when we successfully get to the other side of conflict it will result in a stronger relationship. Care and honesty is part of a solid foundation for any relationship. 

5. Commitment:
Successful relationships that last the distance are not an accident. I recently met up with a good friend and we celebrated 40 years of friendship. In 1980 I went through a family tragedy that shook my world. There were just a few people who made the extra effort to push into my world and offer support. Little did I know that my friend would face a similar family tragedy just a couple of years later. I then knew what I had to do to help him through his grief. We have committed to catch up regularly and enjoy a valuable and rewarding friendship. 

This demonstrates the rewards of genuine care and commitment to relationship. It is definitely worth considering your own “Care Factor”. This could make all the difference to your life, your family, your working environment and your leadership.