Leadership lessons from Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign

by Michelle Gibbings19 Jul 2016
While we finally know who won the election, the analysis of what went right and wrong during the campaign  (for all sides of politics) will continue for some time. 
Since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, there’s widespread belief that he curtailed or buried his views and ideas. 
Consequently, it felt as though you were waiting for the “real Malcolm” to appear. He lost his voice and authenticity as he tried to appease both sides of the political divide.
The same thing happens to people in the corporate world. In their effort to build relationships and build an internal support base, they lose sight of who they are and what they stand for.
Why? Because they think to be influential and successful they need to be someone other than themselves. And they think they need to change their views to be the same as the people they want to impress.
Therefore, they lose their identity, which does enormous damage to their confidence and sense of self-worth.
Losing your identity
Research shows that when a person stops being their authentic self it causes psychological distress, which can have ongoing emotional and physical ramifications.
It also impacts how people perceive and relate to them. For example, colleagues will see when a person shifts and changes their behaviour and ideas. They’ll notice the disconnect between what the person says and what they do.  
This breeds distrust as the person’s credibility and integrity is in doubt. Once that happens it becomes far harder, if not impossible, for them to build a coalition of support for ideas and projects they are leading. Any influence they had is gone!
Be authentic and stand up
When people no longer know what you stand for they start to question the intent of your actions. This makes it far harder for them to collaborate with and support the work you do.
In time, this puts your career on the downhill slide because you can’t be successful in an organisation without being able to work effectively with the people around you. 
In contrast, when a person is authentic and stands behind their values, has a clear personal brand, and behaves consistently, it is far easier to connect with them and build a long lasting relationship. This is because you know what you will get when you collaborate and engage with them. 
There’s no surprise, and you know that person won’t let you down or say one thing and do another.
Challenge yourself
If you want to be influential at work, you need to know your values and what you stand for. Ask yourself:
  • Do I know what I stand for and what my underlying values are?
  • Do I know what drives my behaviour?
  • Are my words and actions aligned?
  • Am I consistent in how I operate?
Answering these questions will provide insight into your leadership style. But that’s just the beginning. It will help if you go one step further and ensure that you are:
  • Open to feedback from those around you – and at different hierarchical levels. Get direct feedback from people and be willing to reflect, and where required, act on that feedback.
  • Prepared to self-reflect – so that you are able to take the time to see how you are feeling, thinking and ultimately reacting to what is going on around you.
  • Open to trying new things – as the circumstances may require you to step forward in a different way.
Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian. She is the author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’. www.michellegibbings.com