First up

Launa In­man, for­mer CEO of Of­fice­works, Tar­get and Bil­l­abong and now a non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor at Com­mon­wealth Bank, Bel­lamy’s, and the Alan­nah and Made­line Foun­da­tion, opens up in a new book of in­ter­views with women lead­ers.

The Australian - The Deal - - News -

In­dia’s appy cou­ples; Launa In­man on why you have to ask for it


A good leader to­day has to have a num­ber of at­tributes. One is that they need to have a man­age­able ego. I re­ally be­lieve that. The good lead­ers to­day are rel­a­tively hum­ble and mea­sured. They’re not the big per­son­al­i­ties that they used to be. They have to have that com­mon touch – and that’s re­lated to ego as well. If you’re in a re­tail op­er­a­tion, those lead­ers are happy to walk the floors and see what the peo­ple are deal­ing with, and what cus­tomers are go­ing through. Lead­ers re­ally do have to be smart, and able to clearly ar­tic­u­late a vi­sion of what they want from this or­gan­i­sa­tion – and del­e­gate, be­cause you can’t do it all. You have to get peo­ple to fol­low you by con­stantly re­peat­ing that vi­sion. It’s got to be two or three mes­sages and you have to keep go­ing over them again. I think if you have those three qual­i­ties, you can learn to be a good leader.


There’s al­ways a bit of small talk and of­ten it’s sport. I wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily go and watch a game of golf, but I would know enough about the game that if any­one was talk­ing about the US Open, I could con­trib­ute. I made sure that I read the back page of the news­pa­per, espe­cially re­gard­ing the AFL [she is based in Mel­bourne], so I knew how the teams were do­ing. While you’re wait­ing for a meet­ing to com­mence, peo­ple would of­ten talk about a rugby game or the ten­nis or some­thing. I was very con­scious of mak­ing sure that I knew enough that if I chipped in that they wouldn’t look at me as if I had noth­ing to add.


[On her ap­point­ment as CEO at Of­fice­works] I had all the cre­den­tials and yet there was strong talk that it would go to one of three men who had all put their hands up. I hadn’t be­cause I thought that they would come and ask me. How naive could I have been?

I was on a plane sit­ting next to a lady I knew who worked in HR else­where. She asked if I was ap­ply­ing. I said, “No one has tapped me on the shoul­der.” She said, “Of course they’re not go­ing to tap you on the shoul­der. It would be very in­con­ve­nient for them to move you out of your role, be­cause you do a great job. But if you don’t tell them you want the job, they’re not go­ing to of­fer it to you.” I said to her, “Well, what do I need to do?” She said, “When you land, you’re go­ing to phone the Group CEO and tell him that you’d like to see him.” I made the call, went in the next morn­ing and [told him] I would like to be con­sid­ered. He said: “I won­dered when you were go­ing to ask me. The job is yours.” I just couldn’t be­lieve it. To this day, I won­der whether they ever would have asked me. Had I not sat next to that lady, I could still be sit­ting in the mer­chan­dise divi­sion at Tar­get. That was a turn­ing point in my life and it started with my ask­ing for it.

From WOMAN OF IN­FLU­ENCE, by Gil­lian Fox, also fea­tur­ing Jane Huxley, Tracey Fel­lows, Ja­nine Al­lis, Ma­rina Go, Si­mone Ryan, Amanda La­caze, De­bra Hazel­ton, Alex Bir­rell, He­len Trinca, Jodie Fox and Ruth Medd. Pub­lished by Gil­lian Fox Lead­er­ship...

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