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FEATURE: DIVERSITY & LEADERSHIP
LG: You mentioned the Sydney siege and have talked about the
importance of debriefing after crisis events. What lessons are
there here for our members?
RS: The opportunity to debrief is essential in terms of
occupational health and safety, and in terms of mental health
and wellbeing. People deal with things in ver y different ways,
and while some people need to talk and download straight away,
others need a bit more time. In terms of HR professionals and
workplace practices, we must offer everybody who’s been through
traumatic incidents the opportunity to debrief, and professional
support that’s ongoing. Giving people the time and encouragement
they need to confront and heal in their own way.
LG: You place great value in having mentors. What are some tips
for finding that person?
RS: It has to be someone you aspire to be like, whether that’s
professionally, personally or both. Someone who has achieved
things you aspire to achieve. They also have to be someone
who shares the same values as you. There also needs to be some
personal connection, so you have to like each other and there has
to be some mutual respect.
LG: What advice do you have about how to influence change?
RS: In order to understand where we’re at and what needs to
be changed, we need to not adopt the ostrich approach, and we
need to confront a situation and be honest with ourselves and
Secondly, we have to change the narrative and how we
perceive things in order to change the status quo. Finally, there’s
a beautiful saying that injustice will continue to prevail if hope
ceases to exist, and I truly do believe that. We protect hope by
gathering and protecting our arsenal of supporters, by keeping
close those who really enrich our lives.
Also, forcing ourselves to do something uncomfortable. That’s
embracing our individual power and responsibility to create ripples
of change. Because if we do that in our own world and in our own
workplaces, ripples have a tendency to become waves. That’s how
we’re going to not only sustain ourselves, but influence change on a
It’s one thing to listen to my story and say, ‘ Well, wasn’t that
inspirational.’ But what I try to convey is that we all have the
power and the capability to exercise that influence for good. Just
imagine the magic if each and every one of us embraced that.
travellers, yet if you look at most of the developed nations, we are
a country that speaks the least number of languages. Perhaps that
ref lects what is and isn’t valued in our society, and what conf licts
with the whole culture.
A stark reminder of this was when I returned to Australia four
years ago after 13 years away. Keep in mind that I returned to Perth,
and Western Australia is unique in a number of ways compared to
the rest of the country. I was driving on one of the main roads and
I encountered about five different bumper stickers that had horrific
messages of intolerance and bigotry. One of them was I grew here,
you flew here, so f*** off. It really shocked me because I don’t
remember such brazen statements of bigotry when I lived here as a
young adult. It made me wonder what has become of our society.
This growing hysteria about protecting ou r borders, and
treating people fleeing from other places as the enemy, is
something we need to address as a priority because it goes against
what we as a nation are built upon.
I don’t know whether it has come from the record affluence
we seem to have achieved as a nation. The fact that we sort of
live within this bubble. But there certainly is impatience and
intolerance that I think comes from a place of ignorance.
Having said that, one of the wonderful examples of how we can
change came a couple of days after the Sydney siege. There was the
multidenominational coming together in Sydney and around the
country, where elders and religious leaders preached the message of
harmony and commonality. The whole world’s eyes were watching
us, and that seemed to be our immediate reaction. That gave me
cause for hope and I felt proud to call myself Australian again.
LG: You have experienced moments of extreme crisis in your life,
such as during the hostage negotiations in Iraq and the need
to differentiate your specialist role as a lawyer and the role of a
leader. Can you talk about that?
RS: First and foremost, what I was taught in the military is that,
as a leader, you are the example setter. You set the tone. In tough
times, people look to you to take control.
In a situation where you have a sphere of influence, you have
to step up. If that means challenging something that’s going
on around you, then that’s what needs to be done. That is, by
defi nition, being a leader.
There are three kinds of people in the world, and we can
be these people at different moments. They are the pirate, the
magician and the ninja. The pirate is the fearless leader everyone
looks to for inspiration, strength and courage. The magician is
the process person who follows this spell recipe and makes things
happen and makes the magic happen. A nd there’s the ninja, who
is loyal and hardworking, who is the executor and who keeps
things ticking along. As a leader, you need to be the pirate, but
you also need to know when to be the magician and the ninja.
Rabia Siddique will be speaking as the opening keynote of the
2015 AHRI National Convention, which takes place on 25-28
August 2015 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Follow Rabia on Twitter @Rabia_ Speak s
15/07/2015 10:11 am
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