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Leaders show the ability to bounce back from mistakes

TRUE leaders need to earn respect, according to CPA Australia WA chief executive officer Justin Walawski.

“They need to be able to lead by example and show they are worthy of their leadership role,” he said.

“They also need to create an environment that fosters leader-ship in others. An environment that allows people to say ‘I can try that’.

“Leaders make mistakes along the way. They’ve usually shown resilience and come back.

“I believe the people who win the 40 Under 40 will have made some mistakes.”

Mr Walawski said leaders needed to set objectives but give their staff latitude to find their own way to the goal.

“They should give them an objective but not tell them how to get there,” he said.

“Leave your staff room to move and they will get new and possibly better ideas about performing a task than you might have had.

“Get them to bring an answer back as a proposal. That way you can check it for any mistakes.

“If a staff member brings the proposal forward they will be more likely to want to drive it. It gives them an opportunity to drive the program.

“But if it doesn’t come off, don’t come down on them. A good leader should be able to minimise mistakes of his staff through the leadership process.”

Mr Walawski believes good leaders need a combination of good leadership and good management skills.

This is interesting, considering studies have shown that good leaders are not necessarily good managers and good managers are not necessarily good leaders.

“You can rarely afford to have someone coming out with great ideas but needing someone to clean up behind them,” Mr Walawski said.

“Most leaders arrived at their leadership position through demonstrating management of some kind – even if it was just of their own careers.”

He said it was important for leaders to keep in touch with their organisation.

“Things are so dynamic now and you can lost touch very quickly and then your decisions become flawed,” Mr Walawski said.

“But if you’ve led your people well they will feel confident about questioning your decisions, and that can almost prove to be a safety net.

“That becomes a bit of a catch 22 situation but it has to start with letting people know they can make mistakes.”

He said the kind of people he looked up to as leaders were those who saw the world differently from others.

“They are the ones who are willing to put their money where their mouth is,” Mr Walawski said.

“In WA that’s people like former Curtin & Bond University chancellor Don Watts or National Bank chairman Don Argus.

“I like Mr Argus style of leadership – leading by example.”

CPA Australia wanted to become involved with the 40 Under 40 program because a lot of its members were in management roles.

“It’s also in any organisation’s interest to support excellence wherever it occurs,” Mr Walawski said.

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