At the recent Tasmanian Local Government Conference, Futurist Dr Peter Ellyard, referred to the 'death of national government and birth of community'. However, on the issue of community leadership he said we tend to put managers into positions where leaders are needed.
In illustrating the difference, he said that managers respond to change while leaders create change, managers worry about fate but leaders are more concerned with destinies.
Managers ask what the future will be like but leaders look to what could or should the future be like. Managers become bogged down in fixing problems rather than taking a leadership role of creating new opportunities for the future.
In this period of somewhat unexpected growth, the issue facing all Australians is that the benefits are not being felt across the board. Individuals and whole regions are still missing out.
Unemployment is too high and this is particularly the case for young people. Dr Ellyard said that all communities need to position themselves for success. Discovering what people find to be valuable and then creating markets and opportunities for new jobs requires leadership and vision.
With new technologies, any small business can be transnational. He said that 30% of products currently cross national boundaries and by 2020 this will increase to 50%.
In a move away from individualism and towards communitarianism, local leadership is paramount and Local Government is in the box seat to facilitate regional development.
Similarly, the other major issue facing local communities is the spiralling growth of drug dependence. The cost to the community, in terms of young lives, increased crime and the like, is before us on a daily basis.
Ivan Deveson, former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, believes drugs are 'the greatest challenge to Australia's fabric of life since the end of World War Two'. With no one immune, he says we are not going to be able to simply 'police this thing away'.
Ivan Deveson believes this major challenge again falls squarely on the shoulders of Local Government through local leadership to come up with new solutions.
Councils that turn their back on this are failing their communities. It is going to take courage and determination to push ahead with new approaches, as trying to 'fix the problem' using current methods is simply not working. This is a management scenario rather than true leadership.
With national leadership on this issue being somewhat cautious, Local Government needs to clearly display its leadership to drive changes vital to the wellbeing of our communities.