Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has demonstrated inspiring leadership through her authenticity, according to Rachael Robertson, the leader of a 12 month expedition to Antarctica.
“Anna Bligh is demonstrating extraordinary leadership – she is highly visible, she is very well informed and can quote facts and figures without using scripts in a calm and considered manner.”
“The role of the leader, how you act, how you behave, is critical in these situations,” Ms Robertson said. “Through tough times people are watching the leader and taking their cues from your reaction.”
Reflecting on her role leading a team of 18 people living in total isolation, with no way out, during months of total darkness in Antarctica, Ms Robertson said there are several lessons that all leaders can draw from the leadership shown by Ms Bligh.
“She is showing great optimism but importantly that is not at the expense of authenticity. Australians in particular, can tell if a leader is glossing over the real truth – we’re great at detecting nonsense . A strong leader needs to be optimistic and truthful but above all else, be authentic.”
Even showing appropriate emotion is powerful because it gives people permission to express their own feelings.
“The world has changed so much since the days of the ‘stiff upper lip’ and Anna Bligh has shown the power of being authentic and real. She is clearly affected by what’s happened and it was very powerful showing just how much she sincerely cares.”
A plane crash that stranded four expeditioners 500km away from the station was one of the toughest tests of leadership for Ms Robertson and her team.
“I was very careful about my choice of words,” Ms Robertson said. “I spoke about a ‘retrieval’ not a ‘rescue’, and it was an ‘incident’ not an ‘accident’. Similarly Anna speaks about grave ‘concerns’ not ‘fears’. They are very different words and while they reassure people you are in control and convey optimism they are also real, truthful and honest.
“It comes down to 5 key things for a leader in this position – be highly visible; have lots of information and communication; chose your words carefully; show appropriate emotion and behaviour; and above all else be authentic. If you have concerns it’s OK to say that, people will appreciate your honesty and they’re more likely to trust the other things you say.”
Media enquires or further information: Carson White 03 9529 3711 or 0408 518 704 or [email protected]
ICMI - Rachael Robertson and contemporary leadership
Rachael Robertson has returned to Australia after 12 months in the Antarctic, where she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station. She is only the second female to ever lead a team at the Station.
This leadership role is truly a very unique experience. With 9 months of total isolation, with 18 people Rachael hardly knew, this was no ordinary leadership role. Antarctica in winter is totally inaccessible which means once the last ship leaves at the end of February, no one can leave the base under any circumstance (not even if you are dying) until the ship returns in November.
Rachael is available for interview and further comment.
P: 03 9529 3711
M: 0408 518 704