A report from the Centre for Workplace Leadership, University of Melbourne (Leadership at work: do Australian leaders have what it takes?) found that Australian organisations do not have the leadership or management skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It also discussed the implications of lacking leadership investment such as reduced employee engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction and innovation – all of which impacts on the bottom line through lost business.
Amid the mining and mining services sector, investing in leadership development is widely considered crucial if they’re to navigate ever-changing markets. Cost cutting, efficiency improvements, divestments, acquisitions and new business models will only be successfully implemented if front line leaders (supervisors and department managers) are leading.
Investing in leaders is paying off for companies such as WesTrac and Newmont. WesTrac is two years into its S3 (Simplification, Standardisation and Scalability) transformation program of which leadership development is seen as a key to leaders helping their staff navigate the changes in business processes and technology introduction.
Meanwhile, Newmont’s Safety Leadership Coaching program embeds high standards of safe conduct into employee behaviours. Newmont’s management team and supervisors are the first line of defence against unsafe behaviour and a harmful workplace culture. Keeping people safe starts with visible, felt leadership and ongoing, constructive dialogue among the workforce.
Craig Hook, WA Mining Club committee member and Director of Strategic Intent, said companies that invest in leadership are typically better able to adjust to the cyclical nature of the mining sector.
“In the early 1990s there were some mining companies that brought in contractors to improve productivity and there were those who invested in their leaders,” Mr Hook said.
“Those, like Rio Tinto, which invested in their leaders have provided superior returns to investors than those who didn’t.”
Mr Hook said mining companies and service providers were investing more in embracing innovation in technology, coaching for safety and mentoring new managers to stay profitable.
“You can only cut costs so far, to sustainably stay profitable companies need to transform the way they operate and have leaders that can be forward looking, imparting a shared vision and being able to articulate a straight-forward and clear plan.”