Clear and bold leadership

Recently at Telstra we announced a new strategy, T25, setting out bold aspirations. We were very specific on our strategic objectives and the targets we aspire to achieve.

At a time when many companies are becoming more conservative and less definitive regarding their strategic direction and financial guidance, we did the opposite. That’s because we believe that when the future seems the most unclear as it does today, that’s when people need a strong sense of direction. Our job as leaders is to provide that, even when we are uncertain ourselves.

Confronting reality

As a nation as we near our vaccination targets and see the green shoots of re-opening, we need to create a sense of confidence that we are committed to and prepared for this next stage. We need to talk courageously about what the reality of living with COVID permanently and more prevalently in our society means.

We need to show that we are building the resilience we will need. This will build confidence that we are prepared for this future.

People are not naïve. They know there are no guarantees and there will be challenges ahead. What they expect to see however, is a sense of confidence, a sense of direction, something to reassure them we are committed to the path forward.

This week those in NSW are celebrating some renewed freedoms – and rightfully so. Hopefully it will be a milestone all Australians experience soon. There is still confusion and uncertainty across states, with differing timeframes and restrictions. That is why unity is so important. Many of us operate national businesses that need to provide critical services to customers across borders.

And we can’t expect government to do all the heavy lifting – business and community leaders have a role too. That’s why Telstra is incentivising our teams and customers to be vaccinated.

Showing compassion and tolerance

We are also requiring our teams in NSW and Victoria before they return to the office and our frontline teams in roles nationally where they come in regular contact with customers and colleagues, to be fully vaccinated. Their safety and wellbeing and that of our customers and the communities we serve is our highest priority.

I know not everyone agrees with our approach and I respect alternative points of view. I also know that it will be our frontline teams that will bear the brunt of any tension and aggression that can sometimes go with alternative views.

We are doing the right thing by our people and customers in requiring vaccinations and we are following the advice of government by allowing only vaccinated people into our NSW stores until December. We trust our people will be shown compassion and tolerance when simply doing their jobs and following the rules.

A time for hope

As the end of 2021 comes sharply into view, we sit on the cusp of an incredibly important inflection point. The point at which we will start to see the majority of COVID related restrictions behind us and a time at which we need to accept COVID will be a permanent feature of our society, at least for the foreseeable future.

It’s a time for clear leadership, for courage and compassion – not just from governments but business and community leaders too, so we can together create a sense of hope and some light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel.