The most important lesson that I am still learning during my career within Defence is that ideas originating from conjecture between commanders and subordinates must be received as equal in merit. This has particularly been difficult for myself on occasion where individuals have been borderline insubordinate or dismissive toward my ideas, which I find invokes an emotional response. My challenge, as a leader, has been to treat this feedback with an objective approach and review it fairly. Captain Joseph Morton

When commanding soldiers with various medical, personal and mental health challenges, I learned the value of non-judgmental listening and empathy. In equal measure, I learned that their problems are not my own to take on and no matter how supportive or well-led the work environment is, unfortunate and stressful events will take place regardless. Once I realised these issues were not my burden to hold, I could focus on constructive outcomes for those members and greatly improved my leadership of the remainder of the team. Captain Andrew Wilson

When I was a fresh LT my OC directed me to prepare a training map of each soldier’s next trade or promotion course. This was pretty confronting with a large learning curve ahead. What my OC was doing was showing me how to find and fix the human capability gaps within the Troop. This set the conditions for success of future Troop Leaders and instilled in me the knowledge that caring for soldiers careers benefits capability now through improved morale and skill acquisition and also future capability through development of a pool of soldiers qualified for promotion when the time is right. Captain Alasdair Billingham

Following the declaration of FOC for Project LAND 907-1 the tank fraternity was confronted with implementing the enhanced capabilities of a world class MBT. The simple solution became complex; implementing significant change, technical informed the tactical.  The small team wore the burden of rapid assimilation, concurrent to teaching the new content from the RAAC centre of excellence. Crewmen and junior officer assimilation was pleasing. Resistance was high, buy-in was low across the SME audience as the master became the apprentice again. Lessons learned;

Change must be managed at all levels and be incremental,

Importance of maintaining a dialogue with users to enhance buy-in,

The best way to learn is to teach. Captain Mick Travis

The most important leadership lesson I have learnt is to ‘be genuine’. Legislation, policies, manuals and standard operating procedures guide us on the specifics for the conduct of our duty. The decisions we provide as leaders may not always be savoury particularly with personnel welfare. However, I have discovered that if you are a genuine individual, soldiers will trust that you have sought every possibility and you will continue to fight on their behalf. It builds and solidifies cohesion, trust and understanding within your team. Captain Maurice Lim

I have had the great privilege of leading both sappers and Junior Officers. Throughout this experience, my leadership style and approach to each role has remained consistent – as a person and leader. It is important to remain true to yourself and others, don’t be afraid to try new things and encourage others to contribute to the team’s mission. This, in turn, allows us as small teams and an organisation to grow and be better thinking soldiers in the future. It is our responsibility as leaders to enable this mindset in support of our response to Accelerated Warfare as an Army in Motion. Captain Joseph Sorrensen

For many people, when they reflect on what a leader is, they see images of high ranking members, or people with leadership ‘titles’ and there is a belief that only leaders lead, and the rest of us just follow. The most important leadership lesson that I have learnt is that this view of leadership should be reconsidered. As an organisation, we should be encouraging ‘everyday leadership’ whereby employees, regardless of whether they have any formal leadership position or not, lead in everyday roles. Leadership should be viewed more by the everyday activities and contributions we make, rather than the title we may, or may not have. Captain Sally Ducat

My lesson: ‘Listen first to understand, then to be understood’.

Often the first thing we do when we meet someone is forget their name, we’re too busy waiting for our cue to announce ours. This can similarly apply when our Sappers introduce us to new ideas, plans, concepts and ways of doing business. To neglect the talent, skills and ideas that exist within our teams is foolish, so listen to them, understand them, and where applicable implement them. By listening to understand you will be more informed, more considered, and more prepared to subsequently be understood. Captain David Newland

At the time I thought the advice was outdated and backwards thinking. Nearly 15 years later, I reflect on it being one of the most potent and valuable lessons in leadership I have received. I was 28 at the time working in a congregation with a 40 year “veteran” minister. During a meeting Carol said to me: “Matthew, you have to earn your place by being wounded.” I now appreciate the importance of experience, going through the challenges and failures, which has broadened my empathy and compassion to enable me to be a better leader. Chaplain Matt Stuart

Create the opportunity and let people shine.

The September 1957 Australian Army Journal published Sir William Slim’s address to the Australian Institute of Management in which he explained how important it is to find young leaders and “give them the chance to get out in front and lead.”  It is vital that enthusiastic people are shown what needs to be done and let them get on with doing it.  Naturally, it is necessary to check what is going on and adjust.  With that practical skills transfer is achieved, ownership realised, and confidence developed. Captain Lionel Boxer

My most important leadership lesson is to seek to understand the other side of a conversation whenever possible. Getting outside of your own head to see the other point of view means checking your ego, but it can help you find new options – whether how to help steer a wayward individual in a better direction, or understanding targetable motivations when one country invades another. Recognizing and getting past your own biases is tricky, but remember that nobody is the villain in their own story. Captain Nicholas Okamura

My most important leadership lesson was to simply get out of my own head and get on with the job. I had grappled with imposter syndrome through the early stages of command but once I took ego out of the equation and reconciled my fear of failure, all of my previous concerns showed themselves to be trivial. From that point, I was able to focus on what is important, the team, the goal, and to genuinely enjoy my career. Captain Vincent Gray

The most impactful leadership lesson I have learned is that “failure” is less important than what we do “after failure”. In my early leadership years, I was performing above my peers but then I failed to address a team member’s underperformance which resulted in a step back in my own career. At first, I blamed others for my failure but as I reflected on my part in the problem, I realised that it was a blessing in disguise. I learned a wealth of lessons which has now assisted me to be more reflective of both success and failure to be a better leader. Captain Roberto Cardone

The most important leadership lesson I learned was that I was hired by Army to be the leader I am and have the potential to be, not the stereotype I thought I had to embody. Even though I might see my style of leadership less, it is no less valued by an organisation that needs all kinds of people to make it work. I am enough. Lieutenant Holly Wetherspoon

Self-awareness starts at an early stage of a soldier’s career, and flourishes as the demand for leadership at the NCO rank level comes to fruition. At the Officer ranks, self-awareness is a necessity to provide the capability that is a leader in which the Army thrives upon. From as little as self-reflection, to as tedious as the Performance Appraisal Reporting system, the capacity of a leader to be self-aware directly links to their ability to lead. By understanding your own strengths, limitations and areas for improvement, a leader can help themselves, and subsequently enable others, to reach their full potential in the workplace. Lieutenant Natalie Johnston

Transformational authentic leadership, in simple terms leading by example whilst instilling subordinates and peers with a desire to maintain the standard you set. The first time in my life I truly considered someone a leader was when I realised they consistently set the standard no matter the task and motivated me to strive IOT be part of their team and work with them. It was the most important lesson for me as a leader and it is still the standard I strive to achieve. Lieutenant Stuart Bruce

While it may be time intensive to begin with, investing in your team early, will make everything work smoother when it really matters. The greatest lesson I learnt as a subbie was “Listen. Learn. Do. Teach.” The teaching aspect solidifies the knowledge and allows your team to develop a sense of ownership over skills and problems, leading to increased productivity in the long run. Lieutenant Tayla Garner

My most important leadership lesson is to be your authentic self and not to be someone else, to develop and follow your own unique leadership style. I’ve also learnt that explaining the WHY is very important. I’ve found when people know why something is happening, it’s a powerful way to motivate and bring a team together as they understand their contribution and the impact. Lieutenant Ellen Cohen

The activity provided an opportunity to explore the concept of know and care for you subordinates in a new context that, in my experience, deepened my understanding of the importance of this tenet of leadership. This was particularly evident across two lines of effort. Firstly, checking the equipment of your team mates prior to their abseil reinforced the concept that the buddy system can be used for more than just ‘the unload’. Secondly, the cold temperatures and snow provided an opportunity to reinforce the act of checking on how your teammates are going, noting that, particularly in cold weather, those most affected often remain silent. Lieutenant Samuel Burston

Leadership is not about you. Leadership is about training your team to operate at high performing standards without you. Train your team to the point where you are redundant. This means you have team members ready to step into their next roles (including yours), and you are ready to step into your next role. Mentoring plays a huge part in this. Create a culture wherein your subordinate leaders can fail safely, instinctively capture lessons learnt and channel your approach to each individual in the team to create both individual growth and team growth. Lieutenant Aaron Thomas

A great mantra to have as a leader is always  find avenues to shape and influence others and outcomes. While positional power provides a level of influence as defined by the role, a great leader exceeds this level of influence by building relations and trust both up and downstream. This creates influence capital and allows you and your teams views to be heard and shaped to the hierarchy whenever possible. This does not mean you get what you want every time, but that you have the opportunity to be heard. Examples of this may be that go-to CPL, SGT or WO2 in the unit that officers tend to rely on for guidance due to the built up trust and respect. Lieutenant Aaron Thomas