Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bald, Brave, Beautiful Bligh

Leadership is shown by people at many different levels and often those in public life have events that occur that makes you realise just how resilient and remarkable they truly are.

I speak specifically of Anna Bligh, the ex-Queensland Premier who supported and steered her state through one of the worst floods in 2010/2011.
Today however she has fought and won a very personal battle with cancer.  I suspect her determination and resilience played quiet a role in this win.

Ms Bligh, 53, said it was a tough decision to open up about her battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma - but she has no regrets.

``I’ve just been through a very gruelling experience with chemotherapy and I guess I just wanted to be honest about what that was like,’’ she told Nine News.
One of the lessons I have learnt on leadership is that being vulnerable is important. Something I have had to work on as we often get focused on being “strong leaders” that we forget that being vulnerable is actually a much stronger trait.

Bligh became famous for shedding tears during the flood disasters and now is front and centre in a telling interview about her battle with cancer, her journey and of course the very bold photo of her completely bald looking healthy and simply gorgeous. I would even say downright sexy.
“I was hoping for something close to Sinead O’Connor, or Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien3, both of whom made bald look sexy,” she said. Instead, she said, she was left “looking like an egghead, but feeling very loved”.

Anna Bligh was the first female premier of the QLD state. One of the key things that struck me during the floods was her communication. She was on every media outlet, informing her people, fighting back tears, showing fear and I remember her saying ““the floods might be breaking our hearts but they haven’t broken our will”. 
Her leadership style is one all of us in leadership should pay attention to.

Leadership is about leading. More importantly it is about having grit, courage and providing hope in times of crises. The empathy, concern and emotion that Bligh showed during the floods and now as she speaks of her own battle with cancer is intense, gut wrenching and palpable. It is very real and sincere.
Anna Bligh has shown strength, grace, determination and compassion through both these journeys. These leadership elements are what people need whether they are in their finest or darkest hours.

The most important one for me has been her ability to communicate. It is vital you connect with those you lead knowing you won’t always get it right and you won’t always please everyone. She did not shirk from telling how it was then and hasn’t with her own personal journey now. Confidence in a crisis is queen!
A lot is expected from our leaders and once in a while you find a gem that we can all learn from. Anna Bligh is one such gem. She connected with her people as their leader, today she connects with us as a survivor. I have no doubt that by sharing her story she will raise spirits and provide hope to many.

It is a shame she has not entered Federal Politics!