“Why Leadership Matters - A Medley of Views”

November 15, 2020

 Welcome to Episode 10 and the final episode in Season 1 of What Leaders Know.  

Season 2 launches shortly.  But I won’t leave you with crickets  chirping in between time.  I will post  a Leadership Resource on my website in place of the Podcast each week in the  interim period.

What Leaders Know explores the unique  leadership journeys of successful and accomplished leaders and their insights  for others on their own journey to leadership.

If you have tuned into my previous podcasts  you will be aware that I always ask each guest, Why does leadership matter.  Given COVID, I asked my guests to respond in the context of COVID.

Here is a compilation of the responses to  the question “Why Leadership Matters” from each of my Season 1 guests.  Enjoy.

Professor Robert van Barneveld,  CEO & Managing Director, Non-Executive Director

In episode 5 of What Leaders Know, Professor  Robert van Barneveld, a Scientist whose leadership of Cooperative Research  Centres and large private companies, gave us a glimpse into the power of having  scientists at the leadership table. Rob notes that we seem to have a lot of  leaders, however we don't have a lot of leaders - it’s a commodity in short  supply.  He says  “just aspiring to a position, or having the  position doesn’t make you a leader”.   Rob speaks about the need to leaders to gather all of the facts, and  then question the facts to identify all of the risks and possibilities,  balancing these to determine the way forward.

Mary Williams  CEO  Belmont Private Hospital

We now meet Mary Williams, CEO of Belmont  Private Hospital who featured in episode 5 of What Leaders Know.  In her response to why leadership matters,  Mary speaks to the value of clear and transparent communication to ensure  people are on the same page.  Mary  spoke about the importance of being present and connected to her staff, and  she makes a point of walking through the hospital and engaging with her teams  to ensure she remains in touch and accessible.

Emma Thomas  CEO,  Sunshine Coast City Council

And our next guest, Emma Thomas, Chief  Executive Officer of the Sunshine Coast City Council spoke to us in episode  2, about her passion for inclusive leadership.  Emma is the original STEM girl, who became  an aeronautical engineer with the Australian Airforce before turning her  talents to leading significant government infrastructure projects.  Emma speaks about the capacity of human  beings to come together in times of adversity and face the challenges by  targeting the best of ourselves.  Emma  shared her belief that leadership begins with“Understanding ourselves and  what drives us to respond and react to certain things”.

John Cawcutt, Assistant Commissioner, Queensland Fire &  Emergency Services, Brisbane Region

Our next guest is John Cawcutt Assistant  Commissioner for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Brisbane Region. John  spoke about the vital role emotional intelligence plays in leadership.   In episode 1, John responded to why  leadership matters with reference to the successful health outcomes emerging  from the leadership of Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young  during COVID. John said that leadership mattered in part because in times of  crisis people lose their footing and are looking for clarity and a way  forward.

Kate Hillman, Partner People Advisory Services, Oceana, EY

Kate Hillman, Partner People Advisory  Services With EY responds to the question of why leadership matters in  episode 7 of What Leaders Know. Aligned to Johns’s response, Kate tells us  how important it is that people feeling safe in uncertain times and the  responsibility of leaders to set that culture at a Macro level in Government  as well as within our organisations.   Kate spoke about how vital it is to put the well-being and safety of  our people at the very forefront of the queue as we can’t achieve economic  well-being without the health and well-being of our people.

Garth Callender, Founder, Trebuchet Pivot.    Non-Executive Director

And in episode 9 of What Leaders Know, Garth  Callender shares insights into two decades of his leadership journey in the  Australian Army across two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. Garth  continues his journey beyond his career in the Army, and now works with  leadership teams in the Risk space. It’s not surprising that Garth’ response  to the question Why leadership matters, includes reference to leading and  protecting your organization - Garth speaks about the importance of leaders  taking that step back from the situation and making clear eyed decisions to  protect your organisation, your people and your stakeholders.

Dr Lisa Griffiths, CEO, OzChild

Garth’s insights into the responsibility of  leaders resonate with Dr Lisa Griffiths response to Why leadership matters  in  Episode 8.  Lisa is the CEO of OzChild, brings head and  heart together in her leadership as she interweaves the needs of vulnerable  people with the delivery of high quality, evidence based outcomes through the  application of good data. In her response to Why Leadership Matters, Lisa  speaks about how leaders now need to be adapting their leadership approach  and their leadership style to the context to deliver evidence-based outcomes.

 Kelvin Spiller, Founder, Leadership Thinking Australia

Kelvin Spiller was my guest in episode 3 and  his response to why leadership matters is succinct and captures decades of  experience leading organisations, in both the public and private  sectors.  Kelvin alerts those on  leadership journeys that leadership now is under the microscope more than  ever before.  He shares that good  leadership gives you a sense of hope at an individual level and also hope in  the community for the future.  


Penny  Beeston, Founder, Strategic Options Consulting & Coaching

As I was preparing Episode 10, someone whose  insights I value asked me if I would share on this Episode,  “Why Leadership Matters”.


I believe leadership matters because  leadership courses through the blood of human organisation.  

From our earliest, pre-language attempts at  organising ourselves into groups for the common good, and it must be said,  sometimes for the uncommon bad, leadership has proved to be in the DNA of  human existence.

To this day we can observe the long-term  implications of leadership decisions and behaviour on the lives of people thousands  of years ago.

And while we have countless lessons to draw  on, it is evident that leadership comes down to each and every one of us.

Leadership is a verb, not a noun. It  requires us to be active in our leadership and to commit a high level of  intellectual and emotional rigour to our work.

Every day in leadership we must stretch into  our own discomfort, as we seek to make a positive impact in our chosen  path.  

And when we feel ourselves  wearing leadership like a comfortable suit, its time to stand in front of the  mirror and ask ourselves the question, why does leadership matter?


Today’s  episode of What Leaders Know Is episode 10 of Season 1 - the final in this  season.

Season  2 of What Leaders Know will commence in shortly and until then, each week in  place of a Podcast I will upload a new leadership resource to my website.

If  you missed some of the Episodes from Season 1, I hope this little taster will  have whetted your appetite to find out more about the journey of the leaders  featured in this medley.

Thank  you so much for tuning into this episode of What Leaders Know.

I’ve  been your host, Penny Beeston and I look forward to rejoining you for  Season  2 of What Leaders Know  shortly.  


Belmont  Private Hospital




Queensland Fire & Emergency Services


Sunshine Coast City Council


Trebuchet  Pivot




One  Step Ahead