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Public Sector Informant : PSI
10 THE PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMANT [MAY 2010] Australan De fenceCredit Unio n . Australian Defence Credit Unio n lower your interest payments with 3.99% p.a. *Fees and charges apply. Full terms and conditions available on request. Australian Defence Credit Union Ltd ABN 48 087 649 741 AFSL No. 237 988 Save with a 3.99% p.a.* 6 months balance transfer to the ADCU Low Rate Visa Card. Together with an everyday purchase rate of 10.99% p.a.*, we can help lower your credit card payments. Call 1300 13 23 28 or visit www.adcu.com.au or your local ADCU branch. [NOTES FOR FILE] Darwinian lessons on how to ape leadership Animal management Sharon's views on the Deputy Secretary's management discomfort her stylish Director 'Being a Deputy Secretary is probably more demanding than being Secretary.' 'So that's why he's always after the Secretary's job.' By Charles Augustus Dent Our lovely receptionist, Sharon, demonstrating new confidence on her return from a management development program, was the first to assert the observation. ''It seems to me the Deputy Secretary calls meet- ings for the sake of something to do.'' The Deputy Secretary had gathered the Policy and Strategy Support Team (PSST) to hear him pontificate about the need to improve the timeliness of our responses to the Minister. It was, he said, ''a reflec- tion on responsibility'', exhorting those present to do better, prompting Paul to say as we dispersed, ''He's talking to the wrong people. PSST merely delivers the messages. It's always a case of 'shoot the messen- ger', an easy target.'' Anxious to know what had hap- pened, having been unable to attend the Deputy Secretary's meeting due to a prior appointment with her hairdresser, our Director called a de- briefing meeting at which Sharon drew on her newly acquired know- ledge. ''It's called power management,'' Sharon explained. ''Management is all about appearance and posturing.'' ''So that's what they taught you on that course,'' Adrian smiled. ''Well, just think, he didn't even give us a chance to say anything.'' ''All ideas not originated by the Deputy Secretary himself are extraneous, irrelevant, and superflu- ous,'' Paul contributed. ''When we left,'' Sharon recount- ed, ''there was a queue of officers waiting for the next meeting. His PA told me there were another three meetings lined up in the afternoon. He had the cheek to protest how busy he was, wailing that there was no time to deal with the mounting paperwork in his in-tray.'' ''Including 30 question time briefs waiting to be cleared,'' Paul added. ''Well, I have a suggestion for him,'' Sharon said. ''Don't hold so many meetings, and we can all get on with our jobs and he could do his paperwork with time to spare and maybe be nice to people.'' Deciding it was appropriate to intervene, our Director said in her best diplomatic voice, ''Don't you think you're being a little unfair, if not a tad outspoken. Being a Deputy Secretary is probably more demand- ing than being Secretary.'' ''So,'' Sharon said, ''that's why he's always after the Secretary's job.'' ''Really,'' the Director said more firmly, ''we should not be talking about the Deputy Secretary like this behind his back.'' ''Why not?'' Sharon persisted with surprising determination and cour- age. ''Because it touches on insubordi- nation,'' our Director warned. ''Well,'' Sharon said, ''if he doesn't give you a chance to talk to his face, you have to talk behind his back. He struts around like a peacock, puffing himself out, always wanting to be the centre of attention. You've only got to look at the way he dresses. That yellow tie for instance. It speaks with a voice louder than his own. And now he's taken to wearing pin-stripe suits and pink shirts with white collars.'' ''Detachable collars at that,'' Ad- rian said. ''Helps with the laundry,'' Paul added. ''But doesn't that say something about him?'' Sharon persisted. ''His dress sense, perhaps?'' the Director suggested. ''He's just another male animal, trying to intimidate everyone else,'' Sharon continued. ''He's acting like a prize chimpanzee, making a monkey of himself. It's EOB: evolutionary organisational behaviour. It goes back millions of years to the way animals behaved in prehistoric times. All very tribal. We must understand the rules of the game which have been passed on from animal to man.'' ''So,'' Paul said, ''instead of doing a master of public policy we should study anthropology to learn more about leadership and understand the Deputy Secretary's behaviour. That was some course.'' ''It's all about male domination and survival, and being territorial,'' Sharon went on. ''Which is why the Deputy holds all his meetings in his office, carefully choosing where oth- er people sit in a triangle that always points to him, not in a circle.'' ''The big difference,'' our Director chided, ''is that animals don't talk back.'' ''You see what you've done, Sharon,'' Adrian said, ''you've unearthed the Deputy Secretary's management genes. Next time you see him he's likely to growl at you when he takes you into his lair.'' ''Then I'll scratch his eyes out.'' Having sat listening to the dis- cussion with growing discomfort, our Director suddenly stood up. ''Must rush. I've got a meeting with the Deputy,'' she said. ''We'll meet again when I get back to talk this through.'' Observing the Director as she left the room in her immaculately tailored bright pink suit, the turtleneck collar buttoned high around her throat, and her carefully groomed blonde hair sweeping across her forehead and hanging defiantly over her left eye, Sharon mused compulsively. ''I guess it's all about style.'' first Tuesday of the month STAY INFORMED . . .
PSI - September