Displaying items by tag: accountability, accountability leadership, Premier Barry OFarrell,

If you thought a $3000 bottle of wine was expensive - think again. It turns out that a free bottle of wine can be even more costly, as NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell just discovered.


The Story...


Barry O'Farrell announced today that he would be tendering his resignation as Premier of NSW over his alleged acceptance of a $3000 bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange. The story began to unfold in an earlier hearing of the ICAC investigation into alleged corrupt conduct between NSW public officials, MPs and Australian Water Holdings. In this hearing, the Premier claimed no knowledge of the wine which was allegedly gifted to Mr O'Farrell in 2011 by Nick Di Girolamo, the former head of Australian Water Holdings and central to these corruption hearings. A note was subsequently submitted to the ICAC in Barry's own hand contradicting his earlier statement and expressing thanks for the bottle of wine. Upon the presentation of this note, Barry O'Farrell sensationally announced his resignation as Premier of the state. 


A fascinating account of leadership accountability unfolds


This is a fascinating story of accountability at the highest levels with all its complexity and unintended consequences. What I find extraordinary about these events, is not so much the Premier's alleged acceptance of the gift. In and of itself, accepting such a gift without due process (and then denying knowledge of it) flies in the face of the standards of accountability and transparency that the Australian voting public expect of their elected officials. What is extraordinary about these unfolding events is how Premier O'Farrell is responding.  


With the same vehemence that he displayed denying knowledge of the gift, Mr O'Farrell turned 180 degrees, resolutely accepted responsibility for accepting the gift upon presentation of his hand-written note to the contrary. While he explained these events as a massive "memory fail", he nonetheless made no attempt to deflect blame or offer excuses. Instead he chose to self-impose the consequences of having misled ICAC with his resignation, saying:


" I still can't recall the receipt of a gift of a bottle of 1959 Grange. I can't explain what happened to that bottle of wine. But I do accept there is a thankyou note signed by me and as someone who believes in accountability, in responsibility, I accept the consequences of my actions." 


Do you think Premier O'Farrell is doing the right thing to resign over a bottle of wine?

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Responses to Mr O'Farrell's decison to accept responsibility are as equally fascinating. Rather than a flood of abuse which is typical of such allegations of corruption, intial responses to Premier O'Farrell's decision to accept responsibility are being met with the opposite reaction. As Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott,  writes: 


"Obviously he (the Premier) innocently, inadvertendly misled ICAC yesterday, and he has taken the utterly honourable step of resigning as premier...We are seeing an act of integrity, an act of honour the likes rarely seen in Australian politics."


Would that we would all receive such high praises if faced with a similar situation. 


Lessons in Leadership


What can these unfolding events teach us about leadership accountability?


- Accountability starts at the top - what leaders do or do not do or say sets the tone for the rest of the organisation

- Accountability ends at the top - just because you delegate (or forget) something, doesn't mean you are absolved of responsibility

- Accountability sometimes means knowing when to fall on your sword

- How you handle mistakes, crises and blame goes a long way to setting the stage for high or low accountability

- Effective leaders don't shy away from the tough conversations - even when the consequences are high


A final twist in the tale


Here is a real story that demonstrates the extreme scenarios of accountabililty in leadership. At one extreme, the reputation of an outgoing senior public official is deeply tarnished by revelations of a spectacular career-ending lapse in accountability. Ironically, once the dust settles, the way in which Mr O'Farrell stepped up to claim responsibility following these revelations, might just become an example of one of the finest standards of accountability, responsibilty and integrity we have seen in an era when sadly such attributes can be hard to come by.



Di Worrall

Author  #1 AMAZON best seller

Accountability Leadership - How Great Leaders Build a High Performance Culture of Accountability and Responsibility





Is Premier Barry O'Farrell doing the right thing to resign over a bottle of wine?

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