Leadership is a combat sport


I’m an accountant by trade.

Many people who know me struggle to believe it.

I guess my personality and sense of humour may not fit the stereo-type that people love to paint of accountants. Stereo types are rarely entirely accurate and often don’t reflect the changes that occur over time.

Ok, and I do have a wicked sense of humour.
I was a wicket-keeper after all….

But people still like to stereo-type anyway, right?

I have the great privilege of sitting on the Board of CPA Australia.(http://www.cpaaustralia.com.au/)

It’s a membership body which is the largest of its type in Australia.
It educates, communicates, and contributes to debate on important issues in relation to the profession, both locally and globally.
It has integrity at its core; and professional standards are critical to maintain integrity and trust.

But it happens to be one of the most amazing organisations I have ever seen in my working life.

It has done some quite remarkable things and is a fascinating story of disruption.

Double entry book-keeping has been around for a very long time.
And accounting standards and tax are complex and need constant attention. And they get it.

However, in addition, CPA Australia embarked upon a journey a few years back to add to its operating model and engage with students, its members, the profession, business, and the community in a different way.
It planned to create content and talk about relevant topics in a very different way, whilst adopting a formal governance model akin to an ASX listed company.

Remember the famous Neil Armstrong tour of Australia a few years back?
I shook the great man’s hand after he was interviewed by Alex Malley on stage. Mr Armstrong didn’t normally tour, he didn’t normally give speeches.
It took a very different approach for Neil Armstrong  to agree to share his story. Sadly, he passed away a year or so later.
But why did he come to Australia with CPA Australia? (http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/cpa-australias-giant-leap-neil-armstrong-agrees-to-interview-with-accountant/story-fn5fsgyc-1226343845785)

The Bottom Line started off as a web series interviewing interesting business people (http://www.thebottomlinetv.com.au/).
Now, there was an exception – I have to disclose I was one of the very first interviewees – an early trial run for the concept I guess!
But a fascinating approach to hear from business leaders about their story, their background, their perspectives.
It evolved into a TV Show on Channel 9 on a Saturday afternoon, and now is the prime time Sunday business show on Channel 9 called “The Conversation with Alex Malley” (http://www.theconversationtv.com.au).
Interesting people, interesting stories, leadership lessons, life lessons.
But why did this evolve from a CPA Australia initiative and become a great asset and success story?

The Naked CEO. Not a typical accounting brand really I guess.
But the world has changed.
Engagement with students and accounting professionals in the modern world is different and requires a different approach.
And providing real world experience in a digital and socially aware forum is powerful.
And important.
And creating and owning content with a best selling book on a life story is powerful.
And different.

The press has been full of headlines on the financial advice industry for some time.
Its easy to commentate from the side.
But there was never a monument built to a commentator or critic, was there?
Independent advice is valuable.
So leveraging that integrity and establishing a financial advisory business independent of product commissions is a leadership position.
Its powerful.
And different.

LinkedIn is not just a social media site.
It is a recognised platform for some of the world’s most influential people to share their stories and experience.
Branson. Gates, Welch. Chopra. Kawasaki. Modi.Robbins.
Big names. Big experience. Big lessons.
So why is CPA Australia’s CEO on that list?
Perhaps there’s more to the CPA Australia story and its impact on people’s lives than just its awesome track record as an accounting body? (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/discover).

So, what’s all that got to do with my headline and the picture of Alex Malley and Neil Armstrong?

The team at CPA Australia – an experienced and independent board, a strong visionary CEO, a strong cohesive leadership team, amazing inspired people – decided to change the game.

Leadership is actually a full contact sport.

It take’s guts to make things happen.

When you have a burning platform, you have no choice.
But I suggest that it takes even more guts to disrupt and make things happen when things are going well!

Leadership is a full contact sport.

And a great example of a leader engaged in that full contact sport is Alex Malley: CEO of CPA Australia. LinkedIn Influencer, Author, Interviewer, Accountant, Father, Husband, Mate.



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