Build 'em Up: The Future Of Leadership In Australia

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8th July 2010, 11:03am - Views: 1041

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Media Release

30 June 2010

Build ‘em up: The Future of leadership in Australia

INITIATE The Future leadership conference is creating a forum for young leaders from across the

globe to discuss the future of leadership in Australia.

The recent removal Kevin Rudd and replacement by Julia Gillard, our first female Prime

Minister, holds some important lessons for the youth of Australia. If we momentarily leave aside

the significance of having a female Prime Minister leading our country, the real lessons to be

learnt revolve around the concept of leadership. The lessons from history, politics and business

in times gone by are clear; that one solitary individual cannot sustain a vision.

Australian politics is littered with examples of visions that were created around key individuals,

including our most recent Prime Ministers, John Howard and Kevin Rudd. In both cases, at some

point it appeared the leading man became more significant than the party itself. When people lost

faith in the man they lost belief in the messages and therefore the party itself.

The ousting of the Howard Government shook the stability of the Liberal party with Australian

politics. As the party attempted to forge a new identity it churned through three leaders in three

years. The leader centric culture means the party’s stability all but disappeared as a result of a

distinct lack of strong leadership.  Strangely enough, Tony Abbott bears a much closer

resemblance to the Howard government of old then either Malcolm Turnbull or Brendan Nelson

for that matter.

The fall of Kevin Rudd holds a very similar lesson. The Labor party rose to power on the image

of Kevin ’07. Whilst the core of the message was about a new direction, progressive policies and

leadership for the future it was sold on the man himself. Whilst there were some moves forward

for the country, such as the apology to the Indigenous populations and the signing of the Kyoto

protocol, when progress stalled so did support for the Labor party and more significantly, the

demise of the leader. What will happen now is unknown although there have already been moves

to project the image of a party united around a single vision rather than a person.

The recent examples from the business sphere tell a different tale. The swift resignation of David

Jones CEO, Mark McInnes following accusations of sexual harassment has had little effect on

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the brand of the company. Although highly effective as a CEO, his resignation has not led to a

collapse in the company as the brand is built outside of the leader. David Jones, A company that

has been a part of Australia’s retail scene for many years will overcome this blip on the map and

operate for many more years to come. 

The lesson from history is clear; visions built solely around celebrity leaders rarely survive their

downfall. From Atilla the Hun to Kevin Rudd we have seen that a vision built upon the

reputation of a single person cannot be sustained. You can’t evoke lasting change based on the

idea of a solitary person. You need to make lasting change centred upon a vision driven by all

those involved. It doesn’t matter how many talented people you have in a room, it is how a group

is united around an end cause or purpose that ensures it can be achieved. 

The lessons of recent weeks serve as drive for today’s youth committed to social change to think

carefully about how they lead such change. In order to create social change, there is a need for a

special kind of leadership - leadership that creates a vision around an end goal rather than being

driven through a single person. On July 9, AIESEC Australia’s youth leadership conference,

INITIATE The Future, will bring together 500 young leaders from around the globe to discuss

the future of leadership. Delegates will have the opportunity to network with people currently

leading social change to develop their own ideas and projects. They will learn key skills to build

up and drive their visions through the people around them, rather than by themselves. Leadership

is far from the attention garnered by one person. It is building up the people around you.


Interviews with delegates of INITIATE The Future, the event manager Laura Mariakinaite or

Managing Director of AIESEC Australia Pedro Montenegro are available by request. 


Anastasia Symons

Director External Relations, AIESEC Australia


P: 02 9436 2600

M: +614 04 108 839

About INITIATE The Future:

INITIATE The Future is a conference run by AIESEC Australia Ltd. aimed at connecting 500

leaders of youth-based organisations to create solutions centred around issues such as youth

empowerment, leadership development, social inclusion issues such as migration and indigenous

integration and sustainability issues including climate change and water shortage. Participants

will gain crucial skills in organisational management to implement their initiatives successfully

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and to use them in their future careers. The conference includes such speakers as the Former

Premier of NSW The Hon Bob Carr, NSW Minister Peter Primrose, CEO of World Vision

Australia Tim Costello, former CEO of Inspire Foundation Kerry Graham and others. It will be

held on the 9th July in the John Niland Scientia Building at the University of New South Wales.


Active in over 1,700 universities across more than 107 countries and territories, AIESEC’s

international platform enables young people to explore and develop their leadership potential to

have a positive impact on society. Our not-for-profit organisation provides enterprise learning,

international internships, self and team development opportunities for students and recent

graduates, no matter the background, race, gender or any other distinction in Australia for over

45 years.

For more information visit our website:

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