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Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from The World's Most Extreme Workplace by Rachael Robertson

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Chapter 24      image

As a leader you are being watched, always

One of the biggest lessons for me during our 12 months in Antarctica was the scrutiny you are under as leader. I should have been more aware of this. Before the expedition I had held leadership positions for over 16 years, but this aspect really only hit me when one day one of the men came to me and asked, ‘How come you always sit next to Kirsten and Chris at mealtimes?’

Perpetual scrutiny

In training the AAD had recommended to me that we use one large, communal table for meals. Having separate, smaller tables, they advised, could lead to cliques forming and their experience showed this could cause problems in such a confined environment. It sounded like sensible advice me to me. I respected the knowledge and wisdom of the staff at the Division, so we had continued with our single, long dining table. But when this question was raised I was caught off guard.

My impulsive answer was, ‘Well, because we talk about the footy and State of Origin. It's easy stuff to talk about over a meal.’ But I was still puzzled so I asked, ‘Why are you asking?’

‘Well, because we think you like them more than you like the rest of us.’

I was stunned. Absolutely gobsmacked. I had tried very hard to treat all of my team equally and not play favourites. I had been totally transparent with rosters, had put the same effort and energy into celebrating ...

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