Recently I found myself thinking about the leaders I admire and why. My list of 20 people included the famous, not so famous and ex-colleagues. Their backgrounds diverse: social activists, advocates of non-violence, authors, clinicians, entrepreneurs, administrators, managers, media personalities.
Amongst the famous, not so famous, now deceased were:
Vera Brittain – pacifist, social activist, VAD, and author of ‘Testament of Youth’ which describes the horror of World War I.
Mahatma Gandhi – lawyer and leader of the Indian Independence Movement.
Martin Luther King – minister, social activist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the orator of ‘I have a dream’, assassinated in 1968.
Nelson Mandela – social activist, political prisoner, Noble Peace Prize recipient, President of South Africa.
Florence Nightingale – nurse, administrator, scientist, who by used statistics, and insisting on cleanliness, reduced the death rates of soldiers injured in Crimea.
Sidney Sax – https://www.saxinstitute.org.au/about-us/our-history/, geriatrician, author, administrator, who played a major role in designing and implementing Australia’s first universal health insurance scheme, Medibank, and the Australian Community Health Program, both aiming to make health care more financially and geographically accessible.
The contemporary public figures on my list include:
Richard Branson – a self-described high school dropout, entrepreneur, philanthropist and author, the face of his business empire, who loves adventure.
Oprah Windrey – another high school dropout, actor, author, media personality, who has built a diverse business empire and inspires many.
Joanne McCarthy – an Australian journalist who doggedly followed a story no one really wanted to hear resulting in a Royal Commission into historical institutionalised child sexual abuse.
Judith Richards – hypnotherapist, who developed a process for treating trauma based on her experience and recovery, and now teaches others.
Ben Croft – a coach, developer of the World Business Executive Coaching Series, an annual virtual professional development event, with up to 16,000 attendees globally listening to renown experts speak about coaching. He shares resources, facilities learning.
Gavin Wedell – creator of Change Activation, a company that creates innovative resources for professionals seeking to facilitate, or implement, change in organisations.
Helen Bevan – Chief of Service Transformation, UK National Health Service, a champion of change and a free virtual course offered by the ‘School of Health Care for Radicals’ to clinicians and managers committed to implementing changes that better meet clients’ needs.
And then there are the ex-colleagues, the publically unknown, each of whom had a direct impact on my professional and personal development who I refer to by first name or pseudonym, all health professionals, Yvonne, my first manager, De an academic colleague, Ky a nurse consultant, Joan a service manager, Don a psychiatrist and Elaine a GP.
So what it is about these leaders that I admire? What makes them stand out? What qualities do I think they epitomise that I value in a leader? I decided to include only those qualities that in my view they all share: energy, courage, commitment, creativity, generosity, ingenuity, vision, respect for people and for difference, an ability to trust and collaborate, a willingness to mentor, commitment to the long haul, and significantly a willingness to deliberately act to challenge the status quo when they identify a need for change.
Those mentioned above have challenged accepted knowledge, ways of providing services, the way we educate professionals and cultural norms and expectations. I have learnt much from all of them and admire and respect them for their contribution and leadership. Check them out.