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Leadership through adversity



“People want to know that they're not alone and that what they're experiencing isn't necessarily unique. And they also want to see that sort of humility.” – Shayne Elliott.

Top L-R: Brad McEwan, Liz Ellis. Bottom L-R: Shayne Elliott, Dylan Alcott

COVID-19 has forced many of us to adjust to new ways of living, working and socialising. As we try to make sense of these changes, and navigate an uncertain future, we look to our leaders for guidance. But what makes a great leader? And when do you realise you are one?


As part of ANZ’s new ‘Wellbeing Conversation’ series, Paralympic Gold Medallist Dylan Alcott, mental health advocate Brad McEwan, ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott and elite athlete Liz Ellis share their own personal experiences of leadership and discuss the impact COVID-19 continues to have on their lives.


“I didn't like the person that I was growing up. I didn't like my disability. I got bullied about my disability,” he says.  “It was like a flick of the switch. And from that point on, I kind of realised that I had to be a leader in my own life to be able to help me become the person that I wanted to be.” – Dylan Alcott


Making tough calls


Reflecting on the challenges he has had to overcome this year, Dylan Alcott admits it hasn’t been easy. “I was supposed to be going to the Paralympic Games. That was taken away and that was my whole life, training up to that. And I guess that element of not knowing has been really tough, especially at the start of the year,” he says.


“I decided to kind of call it out because that's happened to people with a disability all our lives. People decide what restaurants we go to, whether or not we can go on their airline. You know things like that. And it was a tough thing to do.


“You've got to be authentic to you. But when you call things out or when you try and be a leader for your community or the people you believe in, you open yourself up to a lot.”


Authenticity, humility and integrity


Shayne Elliott agrees authenticity and humility set great leaders apart in times of crisis. “It's not always easy sitting in any sort of leadership position when you do have power and authority and then your decisions, that you're making, impact real people's lives. But nonetheless, I think it is about authenticity. That's the most important thing - in a leader or anybody,” he says.


“People want to know that they're not alone and that what they're experiencing isn't necessarily unique. And they also want to see that sort of humility.” – Shayne Elliott.


“I was not a natural leader, if I think back at, you know, things through school or sports or whatever it was, I was never the kid who was… the captain of anything or leader of anything or...  I sort of struggled a lot with those things myself. So I never really set out with an aspiration to be a leader. It never occurred to me, to be perfectly honest.”


For Liz Ellis, integrity is at the core of good leadership. “When they make those tough decisions, the people who they lead will actually follow those tough decisions if they know that you have integrity and that you're authentic,” she says.


“Whereas if they think you're making those tough decisions based on your own personal gain… it doesn't matter how loud or how bossy or how confident you are.”


While there are certain traits Liz believed helped her become a leader growing up, her understanding of what makes a good leader has changed since then.


“Over time, you understand that [confidence is] really just part of the outward show of leadership, whereas really the definition of a good leader, I think, is someone who has great integrity.” – Liz Ellis


Watch the video above to see the full conversation or click here to read the transcript.


Where to go for help


Please remember you are not alone. ANZ’s Employee Assistance Program is available for support services for ANZ employees and immediate family members. Please visit www.benestar.com or call 1300 360 364.


For ANZ employees outside of Australia in need of help or support please see ANZ’s intranet site Max for details of your local employee assistance program.


If you, or someone you know needs help or support, please go to BeyondBlue.org.au or call 1300 22 46 36. Beyond Blue has a range of resources to help support people’s mental wellbeing during COVID.


You can also contact Lifeline at LifeLine.org.au or call 13 11 14.


For information on other services that can assist with navigating difficult circumstances visit anz.com.au


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