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There is much more genuine interest in bigger picture issues amongst our younger generation than many imagine. To test this, our Mannkal Economic Education Foundation launched a 2014 Leadership Essay Contest for the WA School of Mines  and Curtin University.

The challenge put to the students was to identify specific examples of true leaders from Australian industry (forcing the students to look beyond the shallow public relations mouthings, generated for corporate executives, to be ‘seen to be saying’).

I expected four or five essays that would make it to the judging category, but the judges were absolutely overwhelmed with 34 entries. It was interesting to see how many students had actually picked up this challenge to go prospecting for leadership and when they find it report on it as though they had discovered a gold nugget.

The vast number of entries went beyond picking the regular two or three leaders covered enthusiastically by our media and dug deep to scatter some remarkable examples to argue their various choices. There is a shortage of outstanding leaders throughout Australian industry (not only mining) and management is often confusingly mistaken for  leadership where quite often the two qualities are in conflict with each other.

Congratulations to the WA School of Mines and Curtin University for pursuing this leadership project and our sincerest appreciation to the judging panel. Leadership should not be such an elusive quality in our industry, but we assume that leadership can be picked up or acquired during one’s regular career.

I suspect that management can be picked up but the qualities of leadership,  containing the magical ingredient of courage will not just arrive by accident. The courage to speak up, to advocate better choices and to defend minority positions has to be ‘prospected for’ and anyone searching will be rewarded by discovering more rare nuggets.









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