Thoughts from Hon. Mike Baird, Premier of New South Wales

I was lucky enough to attend a session put on last week by Fairfax’s BOSS magazine, on emerging leaders.

The Hon. Mike Baird, NSW’s Premier was the main speaker, and he addressed the audience for about 10 minutes with his key thoughts on leadership, and then took about 30mins of questions and discussion from the floor. Aside from him being a thoroughly amazing speaker and definitely my latest man crush, I thought some of the points he talked about were interesting for all. Here is a brief summary of my key take-outs…

  • Have a passion – find out exactly what it is, and follow it – as people will follow a passion far more easily.
  • People first – make sure you listen first and look for how you can help, rather than project yourself onto an individual: aim for an “I – Thou relationship”. This comes from a 1920s Jewish philosopher called Martin Buber which has wider reaching meanings, but in human interaction you can summarise as the human being is not He, She, It or bound by other factors, it is all about the relationship between you and them. There should be no ulterior goal, other than the relationship itself (
  • Have a very clear direction and focus on it. He gave an example here from GE’s Jack Welch who’s stated goal for all the industries, markets and territories GE’s businesses exist in, is “to be no. 1 or 2 in the industry or get out”.
  • Performance matters – you need to reward strong performers and act against weak performance.
  • Surround yourself with strong individuals… and do it quickly – talent in a team / business will attract talent while poor performance drags down the whole.
  • Often the best leaders don’t actually lead – they just get out of the way to let the right people do their thing. Mike talked about the Lindt siege here, where he found himself as the chair of the action committee, but didn’t have any anti-terrorism experience – strong stuff.
  • Have perspective over your own life – so you don’t miss out on the stuff you want to do because you’re head-down working all the time, but also to keep a view on what your “crisis” is compared to others… it might not be as bad as you think.

Bonus – the  pitching mentality, both for new clients or to get ideas over the line, could be seen as a bit like electioneering! In politics the “how can we get re-elected”, is a similar thought process to “how can we get this idea in/win or keep this piece of business”. Increasingly Mike is using the mindset of “what would we do for the people with another term?”, agencies could enter pitches more often with a view of “what could we do with this business over the coming 4 years?” or “what would this idea lead to for the client’s business?”.

Some great discussion points! If you them as interesting as I did, please feel free to comment or pop over for a chat.

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