Cadence Catch-up with Lewis #11

Welcome to the eleventh edition of Cadence Catch-Up.

Is it 2023, or 2018 again? To me, it’s certainly felt a bit that way these past few weeks. First, we have PwC in a significant world of pain following media reports that confidential Federal Government tax information was improperly used, sparking a referral to the Australian Federal Police to consider a possible criminal investigation, and a Senate inquiry into the integrity of the consulting sector. And then, we see the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority agreeing to a court enforceable undertaking from Bank of Queensland, acknowledging its past risk management and risk culture weaknesses.

One wonders where the leadership of these organisations has been looking over the past five years. Certainly it’s been among the most tumultuous periods for financial and advisory services in my mind, where trust in institutions has been rightfully challenged and tested, and in some cases met with significant penalties and remediation work that sets the organisation back many years. As these matters work there way through, we can expect to see the culture of both organisations exposed, as we saw with CBA, NAB, AMP and others during and post the Banking Royal Commission. The questions I pose are: Where will the leaders of competitor organisations be looking this time? Will they heed the lessons of other ineffective cultures, and get on the front foot before the music stops for them?

Continuing these themes, this month I revisit my project paper “Organisational Culture: Beyond the Intangible“, released two years ago this week, and discover it’s still a highly relevant framework for organisations of all sizes to use in determining the components of an effective culture. I also take a look at personal branding, and why regular audits of the signals your personal brand sends is an important marker of future success. Finally, I examine the concept of “busyness”, discovering not all forms of “busy” are the same, nor desirable.


Despite organisational culture rightfully attracting a heightened focus in the past few years, there remains a tendency for a few, or many, to exhibit behaviours that are at odds with what the majority of people in a reasonable organisation might set out to do. In revisiting my project paper completed with AICD alumni two years ago, it’s clear that consequences more adverse than financial and disqualification penalties might be the next frontier. How have we got here?


HBR contributors Jill Avery and Rachel Greenwald have outlined a seven-step process to improve your personal brand. My attention was grabbed by two in particular: the ability to define your purpose, and then construct your personal narrative. It’s fairly easy to spot those profiles online and the people around us that invest time in their personal brand. The trick, of course, is to provide substance behind the gloss! Personal brand investment can be dismissed as borderline bragging and manufactured, but my challenge to you is – if you don’t go into bat for yourself, then who else will?


In another HBR article, Adam Waytz challenges us to stop revering “busyness”. While appearing constantly “busy” might make us look and feel important in the workplace, are we really creating value for our organisations? We need to look for ways to create scope for “deep work”, the cognitively challenging but ultimately highly rewarding strategic and purposeful work that lets people really display their skills, learn new things and tie them to your organisation.


This month I have discovered The Future, This Week, a podcast produced by Sydney Business Insights at the University of Sydney. The hosts, Dr Sandra Peter and Professor Kai Riemer provide lively and thought-provoking discussion about a number of future-focussed subjects, such as Generative Artificial Intelligence, the four-day working week, Universal Basic Income and that old chestnut, hybrid working (which incidentally I think is fantastic). Like all the best podcasts, the episodes are long enough to cover a reasonable work commute or moderate walk around the block without overstaying their welcome. I particularly enjoyed the episode on AI fluency in Australia, featuring Dr Kellie Nuttall from Deloitte Australia.

And on the music front, two recent releases from legendary 80s and 90s performers are worth a mention. Sheffield soft metal band Def Leppard has recently released Drastic Symphonies, where 16 of their best known tracks, along with some deeper cuts, have been re-imagined with a symphony orchestra backing. Anything goes in 2023! And additionally, Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, has just released his fourth solo album Council Skies. The title song, Easy Now and Pretty Boy (heavily influenced by The Cure) are well worth a listen. The man still has it!


Cadence Leadership Advisory is a leadership development business specialising in coaching people, team leadership and development, strategy review and organisational culture.

Its Founder, Lewis Williams, has over 25 years of leadership experience gained through senior roles at NAB, HSBC and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. A Graduate of AGSM@UNSW, a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), and an Approved Advisor with Advisory Board Centre, he instigated and drove development of the 2021 paper “Organisational Culture: Beyond the Intangible” with other alumni of the AICD. He is also an accredited CultureTalk practitioner, a training and development platform that activates the framework of personality archetypes for the growth of leaders, teams, brands and cultures.

FOUNDER: Lewis Williams


MOBILE: 61 (0) 477 371 665

LINKEDIN: cadenceleadershipadvisory/

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