Compassion counts for modern Navy leaders

Published on CMDR Tina Brown (author), LSIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

Topic(s): Leadership

Participants and guest speakers at the Navy Emerging Leaders Forum in Canberra. (photo: LSIS James McDougall)
Participants and guest speakers at the Navy Emerging Leaders Forum in Canberra.

One of Australia’s most respected and experienced public figures says good leadership depends on a clear mind and sound ethics. Dr Brendan Nelson told Navy’s Emerging Leaders Forum that the best managers are shaped by positive role models.

The seventh in the series of Navy Emerging Leaders Forums (NELF) was held in Canberra for the first time, with 72 of Navy’s emerging leaders in attendance. The NELF are a series of forums held around the country as part of a DCN initiative to invest in the development and empowerment of Navy’s junior leaders.

The Keynote Speaker, Director of the Australian War Memorial, The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, AM, presents his speech at the Navy Emerging Leaders Forum in Canberra.

The Keynote Speaker, Director of the Australian War Memorial, The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, AM, presents his speech at the Navy Emerging Leaders Forum in Canberra.

Dr Nelson was speaking the attendees about the lessons he had learned on leadership; from his father, as past president of the AMA, as a member of Federal Cabinet including Defence Minister, as a former leader of the opposition, as a diplomat and as Director of the Australian War Memorial.

The key theme in Dr Nelson’s message was encapsulated in his answer to a question from a Navy member who asked what he thought were the keys of leadership.

“The good leadership I have seen comes from people who are clear minded, ethical and grounded,” Dr Nelson replied.

“You need to let your people know you and your story, who and what has shaped you. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and remember all decisions, whether big or small, have consequences and must be made with courage and compassion.”

Navy’s emerging leaders were given more to consider during a Q and A session involving Dr Nelson and Commander Maritime Border Command (COMMBC), Rear Admiral Lee Goddard. They were joined by Director Navy Culture, Captain Paul Moggach and, Warrant Officer of the Navy, Warrant Officer Gary Wight, who responded to questions from the room and engaged in open dialogue on various topics, including authentic leadership, people management, self-awareness and culture.

In the final segment of the day, participants were encouraged to engage in group reflection and share their own leadership experiences and challenges within their table groups, and with the room at large.

Participant and emerging leader presenter, ABML-P Morgan Foster says the day provided some excellent practical tips on how to be an innovative and inclusive leader.

“The NELF exceeded my expectations,” AB Foster said.

“The opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, senior Navy leaders was different to what I had expected and I recommend the NELF to all of Navy’s emerging leaders.”

Navy personnel of the ranks Leading Seaman, Petty Officer, Sub Lieutenant, and Lieutenant, are encouraged to attend one of the remaining two forums: 06 November in Fremantle, and 27 November in Sydney.

Applications can be made via the ‘Emerging Leaders’ link on the Directorate of Navy Culture homepage on the DRN.