Window into Williamson

7 August 2014 By Richard Marks

What is it about the power of a great leader? – this ability to inspire and encourage, to make you believe in something bigger than yourself, and to want to work to achieve it. Today, I’m going to be a journalist. Never mind that I can’t write. Andrew Holden, Editor in Chief of TheAge, did it to me this time, reminding us about the power of the media to be more than the next reality TV show or vehicle for the people with too many opinions and too little perspective, but to do good things. To ask the questions that led to the Aboriginal deaths in custody or child abuse royal commissions, to uncover corruption and greed, to stand up to powerful interests and to tell important stories. Stirring stuff – sign me up!

So far this year I’ve been the next climate change warrior, wanted to work with people with mental health issues, I’ve even been convinced by the power of community banking. Talk about inspiring leadership! Throughout I’ve been motivated by some extraordinary people who are exceptionally generous and candid with their experiences and insights.

That’s one of the main things I’m getting out of this Williamson year - exposure to people I would never otherwise cross paths with, from a former governor generals to people running community housing to business leaders, politicians, activists and everything in between. With them, we explore the big issues of our time, and hopefully, gain a broader perspective.

Williamson also encourages us to explore and reflect on who we are and how and why we lead. Today, we targeted some of our unconscious barriers to change and uncovered some of our hidden assumptions. These can be surprising and incredibly challenging, especially when they conflict with our values, and more than one of us was brought to tears. That didn’t stop them sharing their challenges with the group and the support from our truly wonderful Williamson participants was amazing to see and experience. I learn as much from them as from our speakers.

We’re already halfway through the program and off to Canberra next to look our democratic process up close – there’s an old saying: the making of laws, like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Richard Marks is the Regional Manager for Metro at EPA Victoria. Richard leads a team dedicated to preventing and investigating pollution and providing relief to communities impacted by wicked environmental problems.