Paradox is the right word to use when discussing the relationships to leaders and views of leadership in Australia. This “lucky country” has an interesting history that has fed into these paradoxes of leadership and authority. I’m thankful for this book to help navigate some of the unspoken rules and general assumptions that a typical Australian wouldn’t question or think twice about. But this book isn’t just for outsiders seeking to understand the system. This book is a great read for Australians who want to unpack what may be obvious in regards to Australian leadership but also what sits, often hidden, beneath the surface.
The Australian Leadership Paradox: What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton walks the line between critique and advice very well. More than just stating the paradoxes themselves, they begin to tease out the why behind them. And they also give examples of how Australian leadership can and should change for the better. These examples are in the form of short stories which give context and I believe make them easily relatable as well. Anyone who has ever struggled in a position of leadership in Australia could potentially find their story here. And in finding their story, hopefully see how they could be empowered to change their leadership style for the better without losing some of the great things about being Australian.
This book is primarily talking to Australians about Australians and for that it speaks very well. For me personally I will have to do my best to apply this knowledge appropriately because so far my interactions in Perth have been with very few Australians. In the past month, I have met more immigrants or children of immigrants than anyone else. This is maybe my own personal paradox, coming to Australia, seeking to know and understand Australians. But instead of being surrounded by primarily born and raised, multi-generational Australians, I’m surrounded by an amazingly multinational, multiethnic community. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but my own definitions of what it means to be Australian are definitely being expanded.