Wrap Up Salon Event - Storm in a Tea Cup

18 November 2010 By Leadership

Rob Moodie
Rob Moodie

The theme for Leadership Victoria’s inaugural Salon Event, “A Storm in a Tea Cup”, is an analogy Professor Rob Moodie knows well. Cleared of all wrong-doing but nevertheless controversially dumped as the Chairman of the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, following the uncovering of widespread salary cap breaches, Rob has experienced the often chaotic moments that come with being the person in charge and consequently, suffered the lows of having to take the blame when things go wrong.

In the chic, intimate space of The Cube at Federation Square, Rob and new media visual artist Martyn Coutts, set about creating an atmosphere charged with an infectious energy. The darkened surrounds were the perfect setting for Rob to deliver a personal and brave account of his experiences as a leader.

Combining images, sound scapes and visual loops, Martyn enhanced Rob’s words to underscore the poignant and difficult moments that Rob encountered throughout his career. This innovative event delivered an emotional and reflective experience of Rob’s highs and lows and was felt with great impact by the audience.

According to the Harvard Business Review crucibles are transformative experiences “through which an individual comes to a new or altered sense of identity.”

Rob spent the week before the Salon Event in a meditation retreat in the Blue Mountains. While at the retreat he wasable, to reflect more on his understanding of what leadership is about and described it as:

“Maximising our own potential, our own sense of worth and our sense of meaning we draw from our lives (and not just from our jobs) and maximising the potential of others and their sense of worth and sense of meaning they draw from their lives.”

Rob hasn’t always had this awareness and admitted he often neglected to look out for his own mental and physical health before others.

While running an international team for Medicins Sans Frontiers in Eastern Sudan (1985), Rob encountered what he recalled as his first crucible. He was woefully unprepared for the enormity of the situation. While attempting to treat and reduce the spreading of infectious diseases, Rob himself succumbed to illness, making the task at hand even more difficult.

The next crucible didn’t rear its head until nearly a decade later as Rob took on heading a major division of the new joint UN program on AIDS (1995-1998). After some time Rob realised that while he seemed to be running like rat on a treadmill to deal with urgent matters, important issues were being overlooked. Over time, he has managed to identify that at this stage of his life, he was more of a technocrat with great need of management training.

Rob’s third and fourth crucibles would end up overlapping each other. The third crucible was shaped by his time as Chair of the National Preventative Health Task force (2008–2010), where he faced major political decisions (and continues to do so).

 But the most recent crucible was a very public and humbling experience – being sacked as the Chair of the Melbourne Storm while having to front the media glare. Facing the media and enduring invasion into his privacy were confronting experiences enough, but the fact that the scandal happened during his watch dealt a huge blow to Rob’s pride. He couldn’t help but feel responsible even if he had no knowledge of what was brewing.

Although Rob now teaches public health leadership at Melbourne’s Nossal Institute for Global Health, he is still learning how tough it can be to be a leader and stressed how important it was to nurture emotional and spiritual health to deal with the day to day challenges that leadership roles inevitably bring.