Feature Article: Antonia Clissa Q&A

1. Describe your strengths as a Consultant and Executive Coach?
It is always challenging to speak about oneself. So here we go. I believe that my strengths lie in my capacity to connect with a wide range of people. I have a genuine curiosity about people that enables me to find a point of connection. I think that being able to listen deeply to people helps me enormously in my work as a coach and facilitator. In terms of my approach as a Consultant and Executive Coach I believe that I am collaborative and appropriately challenging and endeavour to walk alongside people as they work towards their goals. I find that doing this work is an enormous privilege and I learn a great deal in the process.

2. What’s your most memorable workshop you’ve conducted and why?
Each workshop holds some memorable element of learning for me. However the most recent workshop I conducted that was most memorable involved facilitating a team in conflict. The reasons it was memorable for me was that it reinforced the absolute importance of creating a safe space for people to be heard and validated as the first step towards healing differences and resolving conflict.

3. What are your thoughts on Leadership for the future?
In my view responsibility for Leadership for the future lies with each one of us. I believe it is incumbent on each one of us to take responsibility to exercise leadership in our own lives and in whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves and also to encourage each other to take up the mantle of leadership as events or opportunities require.

4. If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be?
This is a hard question to answer as there are many fascinating people that I would like to invite to dinner. Of course I would love to spend an evening with the newly elected President of the USA and the very inspiring First Lady. I have had a long standing interest in politically troubled Timor Leste or East Timor and the current and second President Jose Ramos-Horta. He shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with Bishop Ximenes Belo for their tireless fight against the oppression of the “small people”. In 2008 he survived an assassination attempt and was flown to Darwin for treatment. Then there is the father of anti-apartheid in South Africa the most esteemed Nelson Mandela. Lastly I would want to invite my partner James so that we could share the experience for many years on.

5. Who is the Leader that inspires you and why?
I have been inspired by many people and not all of them who would be readily identifiable as Leaders. However there is a Western Australian, Sir Ronald Wilson who died in 2005 whose humility and quiet determination inspired me. His desire for the wider Australian community to better understand the history of indigenous Australians led him to work and travel widely well after retirement. He co-authored the 1997 Stolen Generation report which resulted in the establishment of National Sorry Day and culminated in the remarkable Reconciliation walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge which involved some 400,000 people and thousands more participating across Australia.

6. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 items would you like with you?
I would want my MP3 player so that I could listen to my favourite music and of course podcasts of ABC Radio National especially my favourite program Late Night Live with Phillip Adams; a copy of Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs and snorkeling gear to explore the hidden magic of the island’s waters.

Change is inevitable, be prepared for it

One thing that is constant is change! Businesses the world over continually need to change and transform to stay competitive. Apple, originally a computer company, now makes most of its revenue from iTunes, mobile phones and application downloads. Hewlett Packard was a scientific equipment company and is now one of the biggest providers of quality printers.

With the economic turnaround, W. A. businesses have to once again attract and retain staff. They also have to understand Asian markets and business practices. The challenge for today’s leader is to ensure that their business remains agile enough to meet the challenges while also remaining consistent enough to deliver the day-to-day customer demands.

Many organisations implement change and hope that managers and employees will get it right with little training or coaching. Research, however, indicates that one to two thirds of major change initiatives are either failures or have made the situation worse. A sign over an employee’s desk summarises this; below a picture of Clint Eastwood holding a Magnum 45 revolver were the words: “Go ahead, make one more change!” With organisational stakes so high it is imperative that change is managed as effectively as possible.

Two factors that contribute to successful change are 1) a planned approach to change and 2) leaders who are skilled in implementing change.

Using an ‘Integral Change Management’ planning model has led to successful implementation of change in private organisations, local and state governments. These changes have dealt with IT, downsizing, restructuring and moving to central locations and shared services.

The steps in the Integral Change Management approach include:

1. Pressure for Change: Pressure to change can come from the customer, legal, or financial areas.
2. Clear Shared Vision: leaders need to communicate and involve employees in a worthwhile shared vision for them to feel motivated and part of the change
3. Strategic Goals and Aligned Systems: The overall goals must be clear and the systems aligned.
4. Capacity for Change: people need the skills, attitude, resources and time to carry out the change.
5. Actionable Steps and Targets: Actionable steps must be set out right from the start and have clear targets and timelines.
6. Model the Way: Leaders must ‘walk the talk’ and become excellent examples of the behaviours and actions they want to occur.
7. Reinforce and Solidify Change: reward and recognize the change so that people feel that they are doing the right thing and are appreciated for it.
8. Evaluate and Improve: The change must be evaluated and improved during and at the end.
Having a ‘Change Team’ comprised of key influential people in management and ‘Change Champions’ from the workforce provides a major catalyst for change. It is also necessary to keep in touch with the attitudes and morale of individuals and teams so that negativity and doubts can be managed.

Recent research carried out by change expert Ann Gilley showed six key leadership skills that result in successful change.

1. Communicating – providing the right information at the right time
2. Motivating – inspiring and finding the right ways to motivate staff
3. Involving and Supporting – getting employees involved and supporting them
4. Coaching – leaders who can assist their teams to improve their resilience will positively enhance organisational success
5. Promoting Teamwork and Collaboration – teamwork has a significant impact on people’s ability to change
6. Rewarding – getting reward and recognition right is an important component of managing change, especially with the Australian Tall Poppy syndrome.

There is also evidence that shows that leaders that have received coaching through times of change are more successful in implementing change.

To implement change successfully it is imperative that leaders follow a good change management plan and that they have the right skills. Not having these two ingredients may result in changes you don’t want!



Dr Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development, one of Perth’s most unique and experienced leadership and management consultancies. Lynda Folan is a senior consultant specialising in leadership and organisation development.

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