From the CEO: No cape needed, so say Martin Brooker and Foo Fighters

What is it that gives cause to an individual doing something because another did it, or determined that they must? The reality is that this isn’t a behaviour unique to humans either. It seems that within most social creatures, be they man or beast, there’s an innate motivation to either lead or otherwise to follow.

When every living creature has a natural survival instinct, it’s a bit of a phenomenon that for some the inclination to surrender decision making that could ultimately be life or death impacting to another takes precedence.

Obviously not every situation is this dire, but still if one is to take a step back and look at the concept of leadership its pretty interesting to observe how some will never seek to take charge yet others won’t stop until they do.

I remember on a visit to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo (NSW) some years back watching the African Wild Dogs be fed. The complementary zookeeper talk explained how there’s a social hierarchy topped by an alpha pair and their offspring. The pack has a pecking order where each dog knows its place it terms of size of serve of the kill it can eat and in what turn it may eat. That said they have a social dynamic where the pack provides for its young and injured, where it’s ensured that they are provided sufficient sustenance by way of other pack members deliberate action. The bottom line is that by each dog accepting its role in the group for what it is, the collective pack is stronger and more successful.

In human society, it’s always amazed me how one person would put themselves in harms way on the order of another. I’m most specifically talking about our defence personnel. I’ll assume many readers will have seen war films depicting WWI and WWII lines of soldiers going over the top of trenches on the blow of a whistle in response to an order issued by a senior officer often located in a much less dangerous spot only to be mown down by gunfire as they do, in the same way as lines before were.

Sadly, war continues to exist in our society, and fortunately for the rest of us people continue to choose to enlist to serve, knowing that in doing so they will need to follow the orders of someone which may result in their ultimate sacrifice.

Surely that burden must sit heavily with those leaders. Yes, it’s their job, and that’s how they contribute to society as you and I do in ours. But at the end of the day that’s what it is – a job. They’re people and they have the same capacity to experience emotions like guilt as every other person on earth. Aside from naturally fearing for their own safety, they must fear for that of their command too. But what is it about them that makes people choose to follow? How do they get and convince people to so readily ‘fall in’ behind them?

In a few weeks’ time, Commodore Martin Brooker (retired) will deliver a keynote address at Evolve 2022 under the topic ‘Leadership under fire’. These days Martin keeps himself busy with a few different things, professional speaking being one. So, he’s now one of us, and has firsthand felt the impact of a changed events world in the last couple of years.

He’s going to relate the principle of leading people in harm’s way in an uncertain and chaotic time when the future appeared uncertain and a capacity to control was lacking – sound familiar? – as he did in the Persian Gulf to what the Australian events sector – including him – has experienced in the past 2 years. He’ll do so by linking strategies that he believes may work for the sector’s leaders when leading in uncertain times – which let’s be honest haven’t entirely evaporated. In his session he'll address mistakes, critical lessons learnt and leading in times of uncertainty. He’s confident that delegates will walk away with strategies and ideas to tackle the challenges of today to lead to success tomorrow.

Cards on the table, I’ve engaged Martin as a keynote speaker previously to deliver this same presentation. I had multiple people come up to me at that conference telling me how they would be applying their learnings immediately upon return to the office. His presentation alone delivered an immediate return on their registration fee for the greater event. On that basis, I suggest that hearing his presentation at Evolve may render you this same outcome. To hear him explain his presentation in his own words, click here. Can you afford to let your competitors get an edge on you by missing out on Martin’s message? It’s not too late – but it soon will be – to register for Evolve.

There’s a Japanese proverb about dogged determination, "Fall down seven times, stand up eight,". Military leaders are driven by that refusal to give up and know that success or failure depends on their ability to get their troops up that eighth time. There are definitely some transferrable lessons to be learnt here.

Many of us see ourselves as just making up the numbers of life. But when push comes to shove, ordinary people can step up and be extraordinary leaders. The Foo Fighters song ‘My Hero’ is about a regular guy who sets the example by his actions when circumstances called for it:

Don't the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out?
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

 There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

Not all heroes wear capes. Be at Evolve for Martin’s presentation to understand how ordinary you can become extraordinary you.



Song – “My Hero”

Artist – Foo Fighters

Album – “The Colour and the Shape”

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