The ARLF leadership blog

CE Matt Linnegar on his farm

How to act beyond the front gate in challenging times

1 September 2021

Since my last update, the pandemic has worsened with the Delta strain leaving more than half of the population in some form of lockdown.

Leadership in all places, across societies and around the globe is being tested and the practice of leadership itself is under enormous strain. At its core, leadership as a process of social influence is about the service of others.

Threats posed by a pandemic challenge one’s capacity to think beyond the front gate – the self, immediate family members and close circles. And that’s understandable.

Yet if we consider the practices that the ARLF believe are fundamental to leadership, thinking and acting beyond the front gate is exactly what needs to continue if society is to adapt to the changes wrought by COVID-19.

When we think of leadership, the most visible forms are often those plastered across our screens each day, particularly political leadership. And it’s easy to judge and criticise our political leaders at a time like this, but it’s much more difficult to put ourselves in their shoes. Ask yourself:

  • How would I make decisions for an entire population trying to balance people’s health and safety with an economy and people’s ability to earn income?

Personally, I thought the formation of a national cabinet and early steps taken last year were positive in terms of leadership for the greater good – that is, for all Australians. Tribalism and populism have served to destabilise these early gains; however, we can only urge our political leaders to lift their field of vision to a greater good and not seek to narrow their focus for populist outcomes. This raises the question of what our leadership and the leadership around us look like in the current environment. In past editions, I have referenced the leadership practices the ARLF see as fundamental to leadership or the 6 A’s. We have talked about awareness and action, and I wonder what authenticity and adaptation look like for each of us at the moment.

In terms of authenticity, ask yourself:

  • How do I walk the talk, particularly when things are not going well or in times of crisis?
  • If my behaviours reflect my values, do my behaviours look the same now as they did when things were going better or have they changed?
  • How far beyond my front gate am I thinking and acting right now?

In terms of adaptation, there’s no doubt we have had to be responsive to a rapidly changing context. The question here is how open we are to alternative views and perspectives as we act in our family, organisation or community. Ask yourself:

  • Am I seeking to pay attention to those not often heard, or am I going along with the dominant mindset or culture?
  • To what extent am I acting only in my interest?
  • Am I mobilising others to act during increasing complexity?

No matter who or where you are, these are fundamental questions of leadership. I hope you take the time to reflect on the answers for you.

Matt Linnegar
Chief Executive