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Plan B

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Reboots, makeovers and fresh starts

Reading an article in Forbes about leadership, I found some good advice that Tony Abbott would do well to heed.

“When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become.”

But does Tony have the “key qualities that every good leader should possess”?

  • Honesty

If you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

As Tony himself warned us in 2010:

“I know politicians are going to be judged on everything they say, but sometimes in the heat of discussion you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark.  Which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared, scripted remarks.”

Less than a month before the election Tony reassured us:

REPORTER: “The condition of the budget will not be an excuse for breaking promises?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Exactly right. We will keep the commitments that we make.”

Except for the ones that he isn’t keeping because of the condition of the budget.

And as far as ethical is concerned – children in detention, rewarding political donors, sacking all Labor appointees, forcing Aborigines off their traditional lands because he shouldn’t have to support their ‘lifestyle choice” to live in remote communities . . .

  • Ability to Delegate

It’s important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Peta Credlin has centralised control so much that her own party revolted.  She decided who got what job, who could give interviews to whom and what they must say, who could attend conferences, and basically all policy.

Tony’s captain’s picks like his paid parental leave scheme have come as much as a surprise to his own party as they have to the rest of us.

  • Communication

Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication.

When backbencher Wyatt Roy suggested, at a private dinner, that the government’s broken promises were a problem, Abbott rounded on him yelling that there were no “effing” broken promises and no one should ever concede there had ever been.  A junior minister received the same treatment.

There was also the dismissive party-room “slap-down” of MPs who advocated a less combative approach to the issue of children in immigration detention.  The UN has been similarly dismissed when they spoke about the threat of bushfires in Australia and about the torture of asylum seekers in our care.  Even the President of the US was slapped down when announcing action on climate change in conjunction with China – nothing wrong with our Reef and don’t you suggest there is!

As Lenore Taylor points out:

“Authoritarian leaders ridicule or ostracise stakeholders and lobby groups who disagree with them, rather than listen respectfully to their views. That has been this government’s modus operandi from the outset, which makes it very difficult to rebuild trust now that it is suddenly changing tack and trying to get some of those same groups onside.”

  • Sense of Humor

Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy.

The closest Tony comes to a sense of humour is to giggle at name-calling like Electricity Bill.

  • Confidence

Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal.

Tony exhibits a blustering bravado rather than calm confidence.  Everyone feels jittery – business, charities, students, pensioners, shift workers, his own party room.  Tony’s larger goals are to cut spending and to get re-elected.  Far from inspiring confidence, he comes across as uncaring and self-focused with no vision for the future.

  • Commitment

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example.

It seems Tony’s idea of working hard is to have his photo taken in as many settings as possible.  He has admitted that he doesn’t read reports and that he is “no tech head”.  The IPA have given him their wish list and that is all the research he needs.

Likewise his forays into diplomacy have invariably been ham-fisted, eager to jump the gun with belligerence rather than understand the complexities of international relations.

  • Positive Attitude

You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up.

Tony Abbott has been lauded for his negativity – it’s his best thing.  By continually talking doom, gloom, and fear, he has destroyed confidence, crushed optimism, divided the community, and isolated us from global co-operation.  Morale is at an all-time low both in his party room and in the community as group after group are attacked in the pursuit of his golden surplus.

  • Creativity

You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision.  Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes it’s best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance.

How do I make women like me?  Pay the rich ones a lot to have babies.  Bad plan.  How do we stop the boats?  Lock them all up in hell holes.  Bad plan.  How do we address the cost of an aging population?  Cut pensions and superannuation.  Bad plan.  How do we get young people into work?  Cut them off from the dole for six months a year.  Bad plan.  How do we tackle climate change?  Reward our largest polluters with taxpayer funded factory upgrades so they can cut their costs.  Bad plan.

Tony isn’t interested in guidance or suggestions or in depth analysis.  Who needs modelling – pensions aren’t going down!  The only thing creative about this government is its spin.

  • Intuition

When something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance.  The tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers.

Unfortunately, Tony’s gut instinct is to shirt front.  Whether it be the Russian President over the Ukraine, the Chinese Ambassador over disputed islands, the US President over the Great Barrier Reef, the head of the Human Rights Commission over children in detention, the Indonesians over the imminent executions, charities over their advocacy for the vulnerable, or journalists who report on our government’s doings – the reaction is the same.

  • Ability to Inspire

Inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital.  Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues.

I cannot think of one thing Tony Abbott has done that could be called inspirational – not one.  Nothing he is doing is making our lives better.  There are no long term projects or investment in the future, unless you agree with him and Barnaby that, despite all advice from scientists and investors, coal is the future of humanity.  The inspirational reforms begun by the Gillard government have all been cast aside in a fit of jealous pique.

Regardless of reboots, makeovers, fresh starts and marketing, no amount of spin can turn Tony into what he is not – a leader.


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  1. John Lord

    Could not have said it better myself.

  2. CMMC

    He is just the same bully he was at Sydney Uni. Remember how he punched the wall close to a womans head?

    That is what he does to the Nation, these sudden threats to Medicare, Welfare, Industry support, Research funding…hear that fist swinging right past your head?

    Then he backs off, sniggering. Your distress is his nourishment.

  3. DanDark

    Bravo Kaye………excellent article 🙂

  4. Lyle Upson.

    please do not tease the village idiot, it bites without warning

  5. Kaye Lee

    I knew Tony as an unfiltered youth. He barks a lot but he is toothless when it comes to substance. He is a regurgitator, not a thinker, and he shows poor judgment in who he admires and emulates.

    Who do you admire?

  6. bobrafto


    Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal.

    I know people pointing out typo’s are a bit of a pain but you have to excuse me in this instance as the last word in the above sentence should read ‘coal’.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Coal is great
    Coal is good
    And we thank it
    For our food


  8. Lyle Upson.

    i did notice some time back that the Abbott will cling to the very first piece of information on any topic new to him, no matter the corrections and further knowledge to be later learnt on said topic … it is both appalling to watch and very funny to watch … has anyone else noticed this propensity to run with only the basics in any field of knowledge ???

  9. Bronte ALLAN

    I think Abbott does not have ANY of the “qualities” mentioned in this excellent article! He is DEFINITELY not “captain” (sic) of “Team Australia”, in fact he would struggle to be the orange or water boy! SACK TONY ABBOTT! To use one of his “types” of catch phrases he was using before he was elected!

  10. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, he (Abbott) is a dangerous, vicious lunatic.

  11. Kaye Lee

    He doesn’t scare me paul. Wait…let me qualify that. Short term he scares the crap out of me and he has done untold damage with his vindictive approach. But he has also done his dash. In the fullness of time, Tony will be an aberration, remembered not for anything he achieves but as a model of what NOT to do when you gain government. He is a very easily manipulated man which makes him unfit to lead. His time is finite and will pass.

  12. paul walter

    God willing..

  13. bobrafto

    God willing? Nah, you need to invoke the Removal God not the willing one!

  14. Phi

    Well said Kaye – its really helpful to have someone as erudite as yourself who has also been close to Abbott in his earlier years thus giving us a very first-hand insight into this strange little man.

    As you say, his time will pass – it’s like the nation is constipated with a huge gut ache, and desperately hoping that soon this stool will pass.

  15. Loz

    Kaye you are right, Abbott is no leader. However despite the harm he is doing to this country his government ministers are allowing this to happen. All are to blame for this appalling government and and this shows the calibre of each and every one of them.

  16. Kaye Lee

    I agree Loz, they are culpable. But they have been painted into a corner by the chosen rhetoric – lambasting Labor for leadership changes, decrying all debt as bad, thinking unity is more important than efficiency so feel unable to question policy. They are the worst of yes men bamboozled by young liberals with marketing ideas.

    I recently rang Joe Hockey’s office with very specific questions about their source for certain figures – a boy who sounded younger than my son told me I was being aggressive when all I was doing was asking questions about sources and assumptions and then pointing out that the sources he quoted said something entirely different if you actually read them. They don’t like it when you ask for verification of their spin. They are served by an army of Tim Wilsons who can do nothing but spout the daily talking points.

  17. xiaoecho

    “Everyone feels jittery – business, charities, students, pensioners, shift workers, his own party room.” – Kaye Lee

    Anyone who has ever lived through an abusive relationship knows what it is to be perpetually on the back foot, never having time to regroup before the next insult. This is how Tony is ‘ruling’ Australia. Keep the populace reeling and they are easier to control – or so he hopes.
    Australians are basically in a relationship of psychological abuse with its government. How do abusers keep control of their victims? They deny them certainty and keep them compliant with threats – think of Pyne and his threat to deny funding for research if his detrimental legislation is not passed, or Morrison’s emotional blackmail of Ricky Muir.
    It is interesting that insiders say there is a duumvirate, two prime Ministers, Credlin and Abbott, and many of the appalling policies are Credlins without consultation; the six monthe wait for the dole one of them. Her nickname in the party is ‘Command and Control’ Abbott and Credlin appear to run the party room the same way as they run the country with pronouncements from on high that will brook no criticism. Tony says he has changed but the nature of abuse only ever escaltes, it never diminishes.

    I am not a psychologist and have expressed myself clumsily in this post but I know abuse when I see it and the government ticks all the boxes

    Another poster CMMC hit the nail on the head “Your distress is his nourishment.”

  18. Kaye Lee

    I do not find the expression of your view clumsy at all xiaoecho. It is what I have felt too. I would not tolerate this treatment in my private life yet I am forced to tolerate it from our government and it does not sit comfortably.

  19. xiaoecho

    Thank you Kaye Lee. I forgot to mention that none of it would be possible without their enablers the MSM. The press seemed relieved when the polls gave him a filip. They happily got right behind their boy again after his so called ‘near death experience’

  20. gangey1959

    Well said Kaye Lee.
    He is just a pig of a human. (My apologies to the porcine species of the planet)
    @ xiaoecho. When he is booted he will bleat loud and long about his mistreatment at the hands of the population. Abusers always seem to find a way for their undoing to be someone else’s fault. For all of his bullshit carry-on regarding Putin, abbot wouldn’t know a shirtfront if he ran head-first into Sonny Bill Williams.
    He will end up being one of the most significant leaders of Australia, for all the wrong reasons, and will sink quickly into the sands of history as just another megalomaniac tyrant.
    It will take Australia way to long to recover from the damage he and his gutless ‘team Australia’ have caused. None of them deserve any of our respect.
    He got it wrong today. Living in a remote community is not a lifestyle choice. Nor is caring for the land , or your country, or its people.
    Religionism for example is a lifestyle choice, Tax evasion, political self-service, alcohol and drug trafficking, child abuse, terrorism are lifestyle choices. And they are choices that I for one do not wish to support.
    I get the feeling I am not alone.
    Wake up mr prime minister. Payback is a bitch.

  21. Dont Vote

    What Loz says 🙂 ~ “Kaye you are right, Abbott is no leader. However despite the harm he is doing to this country his government ministers are allowing this to happen. All are to blame for this appalling government and and this shows the calibre of each and every one of them.”

    well who the bloody hell voted them in for gawds sake!? – it was obvious before he was ever elected he would be a disaster.. and yet? – if you want to blame anyone, blame the voters! if youre down the pub, at the park, the beach, at work, the gym, and you find out that someone within striking distance voted liberal, punch them in the throat! if you voted liberal, punch yourself in the throat!

    same goes if you voted labor.

    same goes if you voted! – damn idiots, 🙂 you all play their silly games to start with.. even when you know the rules are twisted and you can never win.. yet time after time.. you do the same things over and over.. and complain when it never gets any better.

    George Carlin ~ “I have solved this political dilemma in a very direct way: I don’t vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.”

  22. Tony Rabbit

    @Dont Vote, you don’t see a problem with your post then?

  23. xiaoecho

    @Dont Vote, not voting is an abrogation of your responsibilities to your fellow Ausralians. It is laziness and a refusal to fight for what you believe in. Cowardice. Because we have universal voting there are always going to be many many who vote for idiots, so that is why you must educate yourself about the candidates and the electoral system to make your vote as effective as possible.

    Not voting is surrender.

    Sorry Dont Vote but you are part of the problem.

  24. Dont Vote

    it is my responsibility to, my fellow australians to vote is it? – pfffft. who should i have voted for at the last election, if none of them represent me? who should i have voted for, if i dont agree with the system? – the system that is laughingly called democracy…

    it is not laziness.. and i am in fact, doing exactly what i believe in, and fighting for it. cowardice? its cowardly to submit yourself to be ruled over by people who care absolutely nothing about your welfare. i am fully educated about all the candidates thankyou, and that is why i dont vote. voting for someone who doesnt represent you is more surrender than standing up for what you truly believe in. your arguments are baseless, the fact that you know nothing about me means you can not assume that i am lazy – a coward – or ignorant of who is standing for elections and on what grounds.

    “And if you vote — if you participate in the great con-game that is democracy — you are part of the problem. ”

    you should be sorry xiaoecho – for yourself.

  25. Dont Vote


    not even close to a democracy,
    participating in this farce, regardless of who you vote for, is an endorsement, a formal and explicit approval that regardless of who ends up the winner, you agree that they have a right to make rules that govern your life, even if you are vehemently oppossed to those ideas.

    and then what happens, you all congregate online and cry and moan about what you ( collectively ) have done.

    well, youre stuck with an idiot of a prime minister, thats what happens when you vote. – sux2BU – deal with it.

  26. Dont Vote

    what about someone who is not actually up to speed with any particular parties – or individuals policies, and they vote for who looks best.. are they fulfilling their responsibility to their fellow australians?

    what about the people that vote for a particular party, because thats how their friends vote, or its how theyve always voted, because their parents have always voted that way – regardless of policy – are they fulfilling their responsibility to their fellow australians?

    what about the terminally stupid, that cant see through the politicians promises for the lies they are, to naively belive them, only to have the elected official simply then break every promise theyve made – are they fulfilling their responsibility to their fellow australians?

    what about the people who vote purely for whats in their best interest, even if it goes against what is best for the rest of the people, and the country itself – are they fulfilling their responsibility to their fellow australians?

    elections here are like being given the choice, “would you like to be hit over the head with a brick, or a lump of wood?”
    is it a better idea to stand there and make a choice, or do you simply not dignify the question with a response, turn around and walk away…

    as you are in the business of telling me what it is i should do,
    “so that is why you must educate yourself about the candidates and the electoral system to make your vote as effective as possible.”

    perhaps you could tell me who you think i should vote for at the next election, and why. Im listening.

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