As a leader, your words matter. As a person of any influence, in whatever capacity, your words matter.
To say the least, times have been very interesting. While much of the talk has been about the virus, I want to share a few thoughts on the power of words and leadership.
At the beginning of the State of Pandemic declared in Victoria, the managing director and founder of BGL, Ron Lesh, told the team: “Your jobs are safe, look after yourselves and families, know that we will get through this and we will do all we can to support you”. In that very moment, Ron took away the impact and power of fear in a few brief words and moments.
I listened to a webinar with Jeff Immelt, ex CEO of GE, last week. He said one of the most important roles of a leader is to “absorb fear”. I add to this that true leaders personally carry the burden of fear, shielding their people from its power and potential effect. They use words that instill confidence, hope, courage and belief. Watching and listening to some of the leaders, I cannot help but express my frustration at the choice of words and language used. Phrases like “the worst is ahead”, “prepare for carnage”, “be afraid”, “thousands will die” and “our hospitals will be full” do absolutely nothing to instill a sense of hope or offer any assurance or confidence to the people. In this time, unfortunate as it may be, some leadership styles have defaulted to Leadership by Fear.
Leadership by fear is designed to make you scared. This allows the leader to control, manipulate and force desired outcomes often driven by hidden agendas. Some see this as great leadership when in fact, the exact opposite is true.
By magnifying fear and fuelling its power, we give permission for fear to take hold and define us. This fear and the continual drumming into us “what could be” is contributing to an escalation of mental health issues that will make the virus a literally a bump in the road. The virus curve is flat. The curve of concern, anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, hopelessness and desperation is well and truly on the rise.
In a recent survey, peoples greatest concern was found to be the global economy, the local economy, a loved one contracting the virus and the person themselves getting the virus. The virus may have been No 1 at the beginning of the pandemic, but this has now changed. However, the language from some of our leaders has not. The level of fear, confusion and despair has escalated significantly. People’s ability to provide for themselves and their families is of significant concern. People need to get back to work, be engaged and have their self-esteem and confidence restored. This needs to happen sooner rather than later. This can only happen with strong positive leadership.
While I do not object to measures taken, we have done and continue to do our part, and what we want now is a plan. What we want is some encouragement, words of affirmation, positivity as well as the many positive stories and developments that give us real reason for hope and a great future. Instead, positivity rarely gets to the surface and negativity is amplified as that is what gets the people’s attention.
We need a plan to address the concerns of the people and that clearly articulates a way forward. We need to see leadership that takes people by the hand, taking each of us through to the other side of this. Countries like Austria and New Zealand have done this superbly. It’s not that hard. Instead, in this country, it has become a game of state government against state government and very evidently, state government against federal government. In this very moment we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to unite a nation (we need this more than ever before) instead we have defaulted to leadership by comparison.
Drop the comparisons, egos and agendas. Leadership is about people. That is a leader’s primary responsibility. The language and words used can either fuel hope and aspiration or hopelessness and defeat.
Leaders of this nation, please come together and make this nation great again!
For some time I have been watching some very interesting events unfold in the document provider space.
I have seen a rise of legal document providers who emphasise bulk legal document rollout as a lucrative business that mainly accounting firms can make huge margins on. In the SMSF space, I have seen figures thrown around of accountants being able to charge up to $2,500 per annum by simply rolling out documents year on year by the simple click of a button. A great example is a yearly trust deed update. Press a button. Roll it out. Make a good dollar.
In a recent demonstration with a document provider, the focus was on a spreadsheet, comprising of artificially inflated figures and revenue figures that you simply could not charge clients. The lack of focus on the documents and the quality of the documentation rang alarm bells. The focus was more on profit rather than doing the right thing by the clients you serve.
This of course on face value looks like a very lucrative untapped revenue base, luring people to make software and document decisions on revenue generating potential rather than looking out for the best interest of their clients.
With any document rollout regardless of the entity type, a careful review of what is currently in place is always needed. A careful review of what is being rolled out is also needed. The idea of bulk rollout without conducting the necessary review places you and your clients at risk. Unfortunately, blanket solutions seem to have gathered traction all driven by price and revenue.
Following on from this was an interesting article written by DBA Lawyers Director Daniel Butler, which appeared in the SMSF Adviser. Dan expressed concern around the deeds where binding death nominations will be undermined and rendered invalid by a revisionary nomination. Dan went on to also explain the possible consequence of such.
‘Dan has noticed the rise of many issues arising from documents that result in loss or damages to clients and has warned of illegal supply operations that don’t operate through law firms, supply their documents through the web, don’t check anything but make out that its signed off by a lawyer when it’s not.’ For one of Dan’s recent newsfeed articles on this topic, refer here.
John Morgan, a well-known Melbourne tax barrister, has also presented on this topic at The Tax Institute National Tax Convention in March 2019 and his extensive paper on this topic can be accessed here.
BGL’s position on this is simple. We believe that before documents are rolled out, a careful review is required by the appropriately qualified professional. This will minimise the level of risk that you and your clients are exposed to which is the number 1 priority. Our area of expertise is Corporate Compliance and Trust Management software. We focus on the software piece which we do better than anyone else in the market and leave the document piece to the lawyers and document providers.
Over the past 5 weeks, Ron demonstrated why he is so well respected and appreciated in the accounting, financial, technology and SMSF community.
Danny D’Astolto, Partner at Vantage – Tax & Business Services in Kew provided this letter to his clients to educate them on the proposed changes in relation to Trusts. Very well articulated and simple to understand. Feel free to share if you deem it to be appropriate.