Is there an emerging team culture in Treasury?
There is no question that the last budget was a positive endorsement of the small business community. It was targeted at Small Business, prescription it was written in a way that small business owners could understand and it was communicated by the government so that small business owners understood the focus was on them and what they can contribute to the Australian economy. It increased confidence within our sector and it appears that it was designed, written and promoted by a team of Ministers working in consort.
This is a new phenomenon, a functioning team of Ministers all in Treasury, all focused, in the end on growing the economy. This is a change from the past where more often than not Treasurers have ruled as dictators lording it over Treasury and over Parliament and thundering out that it was their way or the highway.
This team led type of ‘leadership’ cannot happen without co-operation and consultation by all members of the team.
Interestingly there is a lot of press recently calling for better leadership from politicians, a common motherhood statement. Not surprisingly, this has come from groups who in my opinion feel threatened by the actions of the Treasury team. If the government did nothing more than support the status-quo of domination of policy initiatives by a few big businesses, institutions and ideologues then the complaints about lack of leadership might not be so hawkish and mawkish.
But what stops good teams achieving good results?
It is those who try to control or undermine the team and its members rather than engage the team. This controlling behavior will eventually fail as team members rebel against oppression or just leave and move on, and we see that every now and then in politics.
There is also the individual who will let the team down by behaving as if he or she is part of the ruling class and are above the rules that constitute acceptable team behaviour. These individuals do not help the community surrounding the ‘team’ in its endeavours to get the job done; they hinder it.
Given the nature of politics it would be foolish to say there is no ‘i’ in team but equally there will be no team unless the ayes have it.
The members of this Treasury Ministerial team are: Bruce Billson the magical Small Business Minister; Josh Frydenberg the Assistant Treasurer and Kelly O’Dwyer the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer; and of course there is the Treasurer himself Joe Hockey who leads the team. Furthermore the last budget showed that it was a brilliant move to have a small business minister in cabinet and also in the Treasury portfolio, the results speak for themselves.
Does this last budget show that perhaps the best way into the future of politics is about teamwork in key portfolios? A team approach to problem solving has become important as the world is changing constantly and changes are as unpredictable as they are wonderful for some and not so wonderful for others. The more people focused on identifying and managing change the more likely positive outcomes will be achieved.
And let’s face it, we know there will always be some bright small business person out there working on a new App or a new process that will change the way things are done and communicated.
So this Treasury team – The Hockey team – has scored some good goals and more power to them. I doubt if COSBOA and the small business community will ever agree with everything they do or even how they do it but we are in the policy loop – we are consulted. That is one important part of this team approach; that we and others can meet with four key decision makers who have a say in what goes on in economic policy within government. That fact makes it harder for the vested interests of big business and economic ideologues to isolate and influence just the one person, this way there are four voices and four opinions and I suspect the Ministers cover eachother’s backs when it comes to influence and manipulation.
Team work in policy is as much needed as teamwork in business, it hopefully keeps text book ideologues at bay. Good teams have good leaders and good successful teams will provide leadership to their organisation or indeed to the community.
There is no doubt leadership is being provided from this team. There is leadership on addressing important issues around competition policy, contract law, red tape, improving superannuation processes and governance, measuring and improving the behavior of regulators, promoting standard business reporting, commissioning key productivity commission reviews – this all shows leadership into areas where vested interests do not want interference.
Let’s hope the Treasury Ministerial team continues to push back on vested interests and this leadership group provide a blueprint to be replicated across other portfolios where necessary.