Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons encourages business owners to be resilient
Businesses across Australia have faced an onslaught of challenges in 2020, with droughts, bush fires, floods, and now the effects of COVID-19, being felt across the country, which is why the Commissioner of Resilience NSW, Shane Fitzsimmons, believes there is one consistent theme that will ensure business stability – clear leadership.
Speaking exclusively to LJ Hooker business owners, Commissioner Fitzsimmons, who as Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service lead NSW through the devastating bushfire season at the start of the year, reminded them of the importance that leadership plays during uncertain events.
During his talk, he reflected on what he learnt during his 35 years with the Rural Fire Service and the traits he picked up which helped him manage many teams during a crisis.
To show leadership, Commissioner Fitzsimmons says there are a few fundamental characteristics he aspires, and it starts with authenticity.
“People need to see the real you,” he says. “You need to understand the real you, you need to accept your strengths and weaknesses, understand what they are and make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who fill the gaps.
“Leaders really need to remind themselves all the time that it’s actually not about them. It's actually about others, it's about their team, it's about their organisation.”
The impacts of COVID-19 have had on businesses has produced a lot of uncertainty, which is why honest communication is vital.
“There's no point sugar coating something that can't be sugar coated,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons says.
“To be a successful leader, you must be able to make decisions and take action, because “doing nothing is not an option”, he says.
“Making decisions, the best decisions you can, with time pressures and limited information is critical. Collaborating with others, with experts in different fields, to bring the very best intelligence together, is also really important.”
When deciding, Commissioner Fitzsimmons says it is critical to take action and clearly explain why you have made that decision rather than not doing anything at all. Those affected by a situation tend to be disappointed by inaction, and if you make a decision, they do not agree with, but you explain your actions, they tend to be more receptive to your response.
“As a leader, you need to be present and get involved because it reinforces that you are all on the same team,” he said.
“Presence, in my view, is absolutely crucial, especially when things are going wrong. Your team must know that when we make decisions you can't guarantee the outcome, particularly in crisis times. But leaders will be there to back them, to support them, to comfort them, encourage them and own the issues that go wrong.
“Let others celebrate the successes, but leaders need to be accountable and present to own the issues and in the circumstances that go wrong, because people are doing their very best to get the results.”
Commissioner Fitzsimmons linked poor behaviour in an organisation to a spare tyre, and when your team is on a bus and a tyre runs flat you need to address the situation by either re-inflating the tyre, repairing it or replacing it to pull the team back together and get the bus rolling again.
“Whatever that intervention is, the sooner you address it, re-inflate, swap it out, repair it, whatever it is, you've got to do, then the whole team, the whole busload of people can actually get going on their journey.
“I just accept the fact that we can't please all the people all the time, but what I'm happy to do every time is explain why decisions are taken, why they were deemed to be the best decisions at the time. What the options were that were weighed up, and, if things go wrong, why they went wrong,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons says.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons concluded his presentation by saying that if new information comes to hand, leaders should not be shy about changing their earlier decision.
“I don't think anyone can criticise people if they make the best decisions they can with the information and the time pressures that they've got available.”
LJ Hooker Head of Network Development Stephen Mutton says the truth in Commissioner Fitzsimmons advice is timely and relevant for LJ Hooker business owners, and all business owners, as they deal with the challenges that have impacted the real estate industry this year.
“COVID-19 has thrown a curve ball for the real estate industry, and it is hard to predict when we will emerge.
“We greatly appreciated Commissioner Fitzsimmons sharing his knowledge and sharing the foundations of good business, whether you’re leading a state through a crisis or a business in a local community there’s one constant required – clear leadership, Mr Mutton says.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons’ talk is part of a series of inspiring and knowledgeable leaders that connect with the LJ Hooker network during COVID-19 and beyond.