Leadership development at Australia’s fastest growing company

by John Hilton10 Nov 2015
In the fast-growing world of online education, strong leadership is becoming increasingly important.

Swinburne Online, also knowns as Online Education Services, has grown at 380% a year since 2011-2012 and was recently named on BRW’s list as Australia’s fastest growing company.

Shanyn Payne, General Manager of HR at Swinburne Online, added that it is fundamental that their leaders are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to be able to keep up with that pace of change and growth.

Moreover, it’s crucial to make sure they have got the “right people with the rights skills in the right roles at the right time”.

In particular, to have great leaders makes it easier for everyone to excel, she added.

“If you have got a bad leader or a bad manager, people tend to just leave or underperform. But the great leaders can really get the most out of our employees,” she said.

Swinburne Online places an emphasis on emerging leaders and getting the current leaders ready to step into high level roles because of how quickly things change, she explained.

Consequently, the company set up a Leadership Toolkit to highlight strengths and development areas in leaders and provide coaching on how best to leverage or address these.

They identified six areas that define strong leadership:
  • Judgement and decision making
  • People leadership
  • Making things happen
  • Commercial acumen
  • Building and leveraging relationships
  • Continuous improvement/agility
The company also identified the following traits which make a successful leader:
  • Presence and impact
  • Credible communication
  • Composure
  • Compassion and sensitivity
  • Resilience
  • Influence
  • Self-motivation
  • Self-awareness
“These are the things that we as an executive team sat down and worked out, the key defining skills and traits that make good leaders,” she said.

“It’s not like you do the Toolkit and then you are done. It really has a focus on improvement and always learning.”

For Payne, the best part about the L&D program is witnessing the transformation that leaders make when they realise that it isn’t about them.

“It’s really about how others perceive them and becoming more self-aware by learning about their blindspots and actively seeking feedback from others,” she said.

“Often people come back and say that it has improved their lives outside of work as well when they have done a lot of the self-reflection.”


 

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