Thank you to the 1,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Naomi
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Naomi
Current title: Chair
Current organisation: Australian Institute of Health & Safety
Chair of the AIHS, founder of Safe Expectations and non-executive director on government and private advisory boards.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Managing people is quite challenging. If you fail to communicate effectively and timely, this can lead to misunderstandings and a perceived lack of empathy even when your intentions are sincere.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was elected to the AIHS Board in September 2017 and re-elected in September 2020 for a further three years. I was appointed Chair of the Board in 2019 and immediately embraced the role of spokesperson and advocate for the AIHS, the profession and health and safety in Australian workplaces.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I'm a fairly routine person even though my work day may vary from what I'm doing and where I am but generally, I kick off with some exercise around 6am, breakfast and in the office by 8am. Kids and life can disrupt the routine, but I don't stress over it. Travel is always a curveball to deal with. Meetings I prefer between 10am -3pm. This allows me to get some deep work done first up, then finish the day with emails and planning for the day/week ahead.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Be authentic, there is no need to pretend you're not human and that you're a professional robot!
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Conscious Business by Fred Kofman. The book explains how to build values through values. This is something that we just don't do. We all talk about values, put them on posters and websites, but we don't truly connect with them and we don't often demonstrate them in what we do. Fred takes you through 7 elements of building values through values with great stories and guidance which really makes you think about how you operate and values you espouse personally and professionally at work.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
This really needs to be a collaborative process. People want different things from their career and they learn in different ways. A one-size-fits-all leadership program doesn't work for everybody. This needs to be an individualised program for each person, whether seeking to be a leader or seeking other professional development. AND it must be resourced appropriately to ensure people get the opportunities.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
We have a small office in Melbourne with a small tight-knit team. With the lockdowns the staff not only had to deal with being in a lockdown, they also had to work together to get themselves set up to work from home for an extended period. It wasn't as easy as taking your laptop home, there was setting up digital phone lines and all sorts of equipment needed. The staff showed great resilience at first but we sensed they were tiring and missing the social aspect of the office. All we could do was meet with them virtually to support them. I decided to send them all a personalised hamper with a personalised message. It was completely unexpected and well received. I received a personal message from each staff member to say thanks, which I wasn't expecting. One lady said, I never order anything online, so it was so special just to get a delivery! I said to the courier, oh that can't be for me, I don't order on the internet. Then he said my name and it was like it was my Birthday! Stories like that, which make the little things seem so big.