On Monday night, Christine Nixon delivered a thought provoking speech to a captivated audience as she recounted her experiences that lead her to co-author the new book, 'Women Leading'.
Christine shared stories from her beginnings in the NSW Police Force which comprised of 130 women and 8000 men in 1972, to leading the police as Chief Commissioner in Victoria and the Bushfire Reconstruction and recovery Authority in Victoria. She is now a Deputy Vice Chancellor of Monash University.
There is much to learn from the journey of women leaders in the past. This has often been undertaken against societal norms, and requiring courage and resilience. Christine shared some interesting data about Australian graduates, of which 66 percent are women. They are also strongly represented at entry level in many industries, however the number of women in leadership, and senior executive roles drops off dramatically. Christine argues this is not a problem of women's talent or abilities, it is a failure of leadership and society.
Christine shared some of the lessons that have been fundamental to her approach for successful implementation of change. She recounted stories and described the managers who she would "walk over hot coals for", highlighting how those people treat others as valuable human beings. Respecting and caring for the people she was seeking to lead was a pre-eminent focus of Christine's lessons on leading change.
A recurring theme in her leadership story is to create ownership and involvement of groups, leading them to adapt and adopt solutions to solve their own problems. During the bushfire recovery in Victoria, Christine put the community at the centre of the rebuild and asked them how they wanted things done. Christine was inspired by those that stepped forward after the bushfires who had never stepped forward before.
Memorable quotations from the evening included "Don't be constrained by the leadership around you". By understanding common obstacles and the "reality of the real world", her hope is that women leaders will challenge and change leadership.
Some favourable comments received by the Barker Institute include:
"I enjoyed how down to earth Christine is despite holding down important positions and the message of conciliation: listening and acknowledging that others have much to give to improve outcomes."
"Great to have something dealing specifically with female leadership."
"I appreciated Christine's insights, her honesty and no-nonsense style."
Her new book 'Women Leading' co-authored with Amanda Sinclair, is a fascinating blend of her experience combined with key messages for any person wishing to lead and make a difference.
We thank Christine for sharing in our Community Forum at the Barker Institute.