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The Australian Leadership Paradox : What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country - Geoff Aigner

The Australian Leadership Paradox

What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country


Published: 1st December 2013
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Published: 30th July 2013
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Why are Australian leaders so reluctant to acknowledge the power they have and unsure what to do with it? Australian Leadership Paradox claims Australians have a serious problem with leadership. It explains the cultural roots of this problem, and ways we can become more purposeful leaders.

Australians bemoan the quality of our leaders. We blame those in power for not showing leadership, only to turn on them when they start tackling the hard issues they are expected to fix. No wonder, then, that even the most passionate and talented among us hesitate to take up this important role.

The Australian Leadership Paradox offers a circuit breaker for this impasse, providing new insights into Australia's distinct leadership culture and a new way forward. It exposes the inherent tensions in Australians' historical relationship with authority, interrogates our culture of mateship and egalitarianism, and challenges the narrative of a nation of Aussies leading in adversity when we are actually living in 'the lucky country'. These tensions are the four key paradoxes of Australian leadership.

Drawing on their extensive experience, Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton ask the deep questions on what it means to lead well. Working with hundreds of leaders from government, business and community organisations, they have identified how we can develop more purposeful leadership. They show how it's possible for leadership to be inspiring, sustainable and effective in bringing positive economic and social change. Incisive and practical, this unique book shows how we can participate in creating the change we want to see in the world.

About the Author

Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton are both senior managers, educators and consultants for Social Leadership Australia at The Benevolent Society. They have a rare combination of hands-on experience in senior leadership roles and a deep understanding of change and leadership theory. Geoff is the Director of Social Leadership Australia, adjunct faculty at the Australian Graduate School of Management and the author of Leadership Beyond Good Intentions. Liz is Principal Consultant at Social Leadership Australia and brings almost 20 years experience leading social change organisations in Australia and the UK. Together they have led adaptive change initiatives for business, government and community sectors on complex issues such as homelessness, Indigenous leadership and corporate/community engagement.

'Aigner and Skelton challenge our understanding of what leadership characteristics are needed in the Australian context, with every page presenting new insights and possibilities... a fascinating portrayal of how leadership is exercised in our institutions but leaves us yearning for something much better.' - Robert Fitzgerald AM, Commissioner, Productivity Commission. '...in the tradition of Donald Horne's The Lucky Country, ...challenges us to rise above complacency and complaint and accept that leadership and power are needed for progress.' - Professor Geoff Gallop, former Premier of Western Australia.




1 Room to move

2 There's no such thing as a 'leader'


3 The water we swim in

4 Paradox 1: Anti-authority and authority-dependent

5 Paradox 2: Egalitarian and hierarchical

6 Paradox 3: Relational and competitive

7 Paradox 4: Battling adversity and living in prosperity


8 Leading across difference - The great Australian challenge

9 Leading in Australia - The why before the how

10 Power, rank and authority

11 The leverage of role

12 Conflict, growth and innovation

13 Doing business with authority - The why

14 Doing business differently - The how

15 More than surviving

16 A new Australian leadership story



ISBN: 9781743310304
ISBN-10: 1743310307
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 1st December 2013
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.34
Edition Number: 1