14/08/2007 - 22:00

Not for profit: Invest in leadership – Cullen

14/08/2007 - 22:00


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The Australian Institute of Management (WA) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is hosting a series of events to commemorate the occasion.

Not for profit: Invest in leadership – Cullen

The Australian Institute of Management (WA) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is hosting a series of events to commemorate the occasion.


The not-for-profit, membership-based organisation held a major leadership conference last month, featuring speakers from the London Business School and Harvard Business School.


According to AIM executive director Patrick Cullen, the anniversary is an opportunity to recognise the importance of leadership in today’s society, from a business perspective.


Mr Cullen said research had shown Australia had some of the highest quality leadership in the world.


However, he said the challenge for business was to continue to develop future leadership potential.


“Increasingly, organisations are in a globally competitive environment,” Mr Cullen said.


“Investment in leadership capability should be a priority for business.”


It was important to have strong leadership in order to maintain growth and momentum, he said.


“That’s the real challenge, if WA wants to leverage its opportunities in a competitive environment,” Mr Cullen told WA Business News.


“We deal with a large number of organisations in WA. Some organisations recognise the importance of developing leadership capability and invest in a substantive way.”


Mr Cullen said leadership development should be an ongoing process, including formal programs, on-the-job training and mentoring.


He said succession planning was also a major issue for WA businesses in the current environment, where the skills shortage was adding further pressure.


“Organisations are pushing people through the ranks and they need to have an adequate plan in place, otherwise they won’t be able to carry on growing as quickly,” Mr Cullen said.


“They need to develop a plan now, otherwise in three to five years you will see the effect.”


Other not-for-profit groups believe a community based approach to leadership is required.


Leadership WA chief executive officer Dr Ian Reid said while organisational management was important, strong community leaders were also needed.


“My feeling is that we, as Western Australians, need more focus on socially responsible leadership,” he said.


Dr Reid said WA organisations generally had strong internal leadership.


“What we’re less good at is stepping outside an organisational framework and finding constructive and imaginative ways to work together,” he said.


According to Dr Reid, social issues such as those affecting fly-in fly-out communities and indigenous communities need collaborative leadership from the public and private sectors.


“We want to lift the level of public debate. Engaging in large social change is where leadership is most needed,” he said. 


However, Dr Reid acknowledged that it was difficult to engage people in a time-poor society.


“You can see in the decline of some community organisations that a lot of people are decreasing the number of hours they spend on anything other than their own career,” he said.


“That’s why organisations like ours have a big role to play, in encouraging people to realise the scale and nature of the challenges.”


One organisation that aims to build future leaders is Young Achievement Australia (WA), which develops the leadership skills of high school students.


The organisation runs a business skills program for students in years 10 to 12, and is due to hold its annual trade expo later this month.


During the business skills program, students undertake a number of procedures involved in establishing a business, including selling shares to raise capital, designing a business plan, producing goods, managing finance systems and preparing an annual report.


Students also receive mentoring from local business leaders and conduct board meetings.


Young Achievement Australia state manager Joey King said the organisation was aiming to expand its program to include more students and involve remote communities, through sponsorship from companies in the resources industry.



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