Good leaders always put themselves last

Student prefects of the Archdiocese and beyond spent a day receiving sound advice from Australian leaders.

The message was that good leaders serve and empower others – and always ask advice.

A total of 22 schools gathered their student leaders at Patrician Brothers College Fairfield to hear respected and renowned Australian leaders shape tomorrow’s leaders at the highlight of the college’s year – Leadership Day.

“Your job after a day like today is to go back to your schools after having listenedChannel Ten Newsreader Natarsha Belling responds to a question to these wonderful people who will speak to you today and make a difference in your schools,” said Patrician Brothers Fairfield Principal, John Killeen.

“Enjoy it, absorb it, most importantly do something with it when you leave,” he said.

“The messages they will give you is hope and faith in young people,” Mr Killeen told the students in his welcome speech.

First Keynote Speaker, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told students his leadership of the police force was one of service and that was his only focus.

“Not one of my employees are there to serve me, I am there to serve them. It’s not all about me. You must understand it’s not all about you,” he said.

Mr Scipione said he was honoured to be talking to “Australia’s future” as the leader of Australia’s oldest police force formed in 1862.

He leads 20,000 men and women who are responsible for 7.5 million residents of the state, covering 800,000 square kilometres with a budget of $3.5 billion.

His key words to describe leadership were “influence” and “making good choices” because he said one of the biggest responsibilities he has is not just for the 20,000 who serve beside him but the people they look after.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione

“Leadership is predominantly influence; whether you know it or not you are likely to influence thousands of people in your life. Whether it will be good or not, only you will decide,” Mr Scipione told the students.

The second keynote speaker, Dick Smith, told the audience he first set up Dick Smith Electronics with his then fiancé (now wife) Pip in 1968 with $610. He sold the business ten years later to Woolworths for over $20 million. It now has a turnover of $1.4 billion.

“I went down the field of making money,” he said.

He now runs Dick Smith Foods, which donates its profits to important causes every year – this year it was $9 million.

Mr Smith said his leadership abilities were self-taught and most were learned in the scouting movement where scouts were expected to do service for others.

He warned the students about reckless decision-making as leaders.

“You should always think ‘it will happen to me’, I call it responsible risk taking,”

Mr Smith added if you think ‘it will happen to you’, you don’t make bad decisions.

He said at Dick Smith Electronics he would meet with his team and ask their advice, if it lined up with his thinking he would not tell them that, rather he’d honour it as their idea. He said his staff was empowered by this decision-making.

His acronym for leadership was – CASHED – Communication, Ask Advice, Simplicity (use common sense), Honesty, Enthusiasm and Discipline.

Mr Smith told the students honesty was of “utter importance”.

He always tells new staff: “If you see me doing something dishonest, if you don’t get a good explanation from me then take it to the police – because that’s what I’ll be doing to you.”

The schools represented were: Freeman Catholic College Bonnyrigg, St John Bosco College Engadine, Good Samaritan Catholic College Hinchinbrook, Clancy Catholic College West Hoxton, Cerdon College Merrylands, Delany College Granville, Bethany College Hurstville, Domremy College Five Dock, Holy Cross College Ryde, De La Salle Revesby, Rosebank College Five Dock, Mary MacKillop Catholic College Wakeley, De La Salle Ashfield, Casimir Catholic College, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, All Saints Catholic Boys’ College Liverpool, All Saints Catholic Girls’ College Liverpool, St Dominic’s College Kingswood, Trinity Catholic College Auburn/Regents Park, St Patrick’s College Strathfield, Casimir Catholic College Marrickville and Youth Off The Streets.

A panel comprising Dick Smith, former rugby great Nick Farr Jones, Channel Ten newsreader Natarsha Belling, Studio 10 host Joe Hildebrand and Romilly Madew, Chief Executive Green Building Council of Australia, took questions from students.

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