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5 Things The Kevin/julia Brawl Taught Us About The Workplace

There’s probably no workplace more intense than Parliament.

3 years of political argy bargy are a goldmine for those who want to learn from Julia and Kev’s mistakes. 

1) Manage internally and externally.

Kevin made the mistake of having the support of his constituents, yet failed to rally and keep the respect of his own troops in the labour party. That is why he was overthrown as PM. 

Julia, did the inverse. She gained strong support from her party, enough to topple Kevin in 2010. She also was able to starve off 2 attempted coups, winning the first by 40 some votes in the caucus. She ultimately fell because her sentiment with the public had fallen so far that her own loyal troops were forced to abandon her. 

Lesson in the workplace: Be a good, honest and AWARE leader to clients, staff and partners. Manage up and down. Stay humble. That intern will one day be your boss, or highest grossing client. 

2) What is the unstated agenda?

There is a sick part of every Aussie that will go for an underdog no matter what. Not everyone will admit it, but I’m sure people were thinking “We voted Kevin, we want what we paid for. You booted him out Julia, now the same should happen to you”. There was an unstated agenda by the Australian public to:

a) Restore what we installed during KEVIN 07.

b) Have an alternative to Abbott. You can’t expect a 30 year labour voter to just pivot around because of Julia. 

Lesson in the workplace: Sometimes things will occur in the workplace that defy obvious logic. A person gets promoted beyond their talents and is protected. A departement is preserved despite being cashflow negative or a heavy operational overhead. Look beyond the black and white and try and understand the unstated agenda of the decision makers in an organization. This could save you pulling your hair out when strange things occur, or may help you plot your positioning strategy and allegiances.

3) Play the right card, at the right time.

We saw Julia play the misogyny card several times throughout her term. It was the sharpest tool she had to help polarize herself from Abbott. Her first speech even went viral on youtube. 

The issue with this approach was, that although it at first seemed liked there may be some credible evidence to support her claim, she played it over and over, and it eventually got discounted by the public as political name calling. She should have left it alone after she quoted Abbotts stance on not enough women in office ie “the assumption that this is a bad thing”.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has hit back at Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s call for Peter Slipper to be removed as Speaker, attacking Mr Abbott as a misogynist.

Lesson in the workplace: Its no secret that the most successful people in the corporate world are almost always effective communicators. Sometimes there will just be times where its far more effective to not say anything at all. There’s a bit of Don Draper in all of us!

4) Be careful showing doubt/weakness.

One of Julia’s core strengths was her ability to be unwavering in the face of adversity and fierce scrutiny. 

No matter what the onslaught, she was able to point to the policy decisions she was proud of e.g NBN, disability scheme, price on carbon, gonsky etc. Right up until the end, that is why she was able to keep her closest allies like Wayne Swan. 

Despite all the fracas, she will ultimately be remembered as a lady who fought for a fairer Australia, and paved the way for our forethcoming female PMs, who will not be chastised for knitting on the cover of Women Day. 

Lesson in the workplace: You’ve probably heard the analogy of the swan gliding on a lake. It appears effortless, yet its legs are paddling furiously underneath the water. Quite often as leaders, we are actually best serving when we appear as a solid helm, and constrain our doubts and insecurities for a tight knit meeting with fellow management, away from the rest of the organisation. 

5) Its a job, not a Death Sentence. Know when your time is up. Go out in class.

Julia knew a petition was circulating. She made the pre emptive move of calling a ballot. This was a sign of power, that the ball was still in her court. She knew how badly she was polling, and that this challenge was inevitable. In reality, had it been forced through a petition, the votes could have been a lot further apart. Either way it was a mitigating move on her part. If she had run, she may have, as Kevin put it, moved labour to the biggest landslide defeat since federation. 

Lesson in the workplace: Undertand when a role or organisation is not right for you. Set yourself boundaries you will not go beyond. Realise what else is out there for you, and that the grass can sometimes be greener. You may have to accept at times that an organization is just not in the right time or place to truly value your contribution, and you may be far more successful applying your core talents to another organisation or cause.

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