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thoughts on leadership

December 7, 2009

I came across an article in this weekend’s Australian that I think is worth sharing. Peter Cosgrove, now retired, reflects on the sort of leadership on offer in Australia today. I found it to be particularly thought provoking after last weekend’s Samurai Game as Peter makes comparisons between his experience as a military leader and the experience of leading in a business environment.

A couple of observations struck particular chords with me:

“We all of us have a reputation, something we are known for, sometimes different from what we would like to be known for. At the core of this is the simple but fragile heart, our integrity. Always under challenge, under tests both trivial and profound every day of our lives.”


“During the past couple of decades the business community has seen an exponential increase in compliance-based regulations. These regulations have grown from a raft of incidents where corporations and their leaders behaved poorly, leading to great losses among shareholders… In some ways this framework of regulation can lead to a culture of “integrity by compliance”, whereby corporate leaders (boards and chief executives) can increasingly feel that if they abide by the letter of the law (or regulation) then they have behaved with integrity. The subtle shortcoming is that no system can ever describe the limits of obligation that must be self-imposed on the behaviour of men and women of integrity. And, of course, a business culture that assumes that within the regulatory envelope, anything else goes is obviously flawed.”

Perhaps that is a challenge that the Game highlights for some. In the Game, as in business, you are competing with others. How do I play by the rules, which includes abiding by Bushido and thus maintaining my integrity, while still being creative and making something happen?

The full text of the article is available at:

The full lecture will be broadcast on ABC Radio National this Sunday (22/11/09) at 5pm. The lectures will be available as audio on demand and to podcast at .

In an interesting reframe, Ruth Ostrow also in the Australian, asks “What if a magical soothsayer appeared and told you that you were never going to get the thing you craved?” She offers a view that giving up hope might just make us happier! If we are waiting for something to make things “better” (a soul mate, enough money) then we might put our life on hold and then spend our time worrying that things might never go to plan. Giving up hope might allow us to grieve and then get on and play with the cards we are holding – in essence to get on with life. I suppose what she is saying is that if the Fate of War should take your arm or your sight you have two choices – you can get on with the game or you can wait for the time when it is returned to you. For me, there is nothing worse than finding out that the game has finished while you were waiting for things to get better.

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