Leadership is within everyone’s reach, everyone’s ability and everyone’s power.
The Leading Edge is written for those who wake up every morning caring about being a better human, building a better world. It’s for those who are done with the status quo, who feel restless for a new tomorrow, today.
The answers aren’t simple. The Leading Edge is the culmination of years of research and interviews with luminaries like Susan Cain and Condoleezza Rice to Barack Obama and Malcolm Gladwell. Diverse leadership stories construct a framework for future leadership.
Through three principles – mindset, method and mastery – you’ll discover how to first lead yourself, then others. With the right tools, anyone can lead the change they care enough to make.
The Leading Edge breaks open the notion that leadership is exclusive. It’s not. And in today’s world more than ever we simply cannot afford for it to be. ‘Leading from the edge’ means harnessing the state of mind, the processes and the artistry that will arm leaders like you for impact. Become the leader the world needs you to be.
As a globally renowned key-note speaker, Holly has recently presented over 500 sessions across six continents. Holly’s differentiated perspective and strong voice break open obscure technical language, spur motivation to solve for the world’s greatest challenges and ignite the confidence to engage in inclusive debate.
Speaking topics - pair your event with a book offer
THE LEADING EDGE
Leadership as a mindset
Empower your people to harness purpose as a personal and collective motivator. Empower your teams to expand their sphere of influence, hone their risk appetite, and reframe their role in greater business success. As Gandhi put it, let’s teach your people to do what they can, with what they have, from where they are. Starting today.
Purpose: Knowing your why is one thing, knowing their why is everything.
Risk: Pre-mortems, black boxes, asking the questions without answers. Build your ability to bounce back from failure while looking risk in the eye.
Make your mind up: Framing your choices and diversifying your dice in the age of etoxic information.
Find your edge, own your narrative: No one does you, like you. Be your difference, it’s your most valuable asset.
THE LEADING EDGE
Methods for thriving in uncertainty
Leadership is no longer about individual strength, but group strength. What does leadership look like today, when we’re facing complexity and challenges in every direction? Activate a distributed leadership model with the methods to help people operate out of their comfort zone, model inclusive culture, and sharpen their critical curiosity for the unknown.
Energy over time: As we build our stamina for change, managing energy rather than time becomes crucial.
Leading at the cutting edge: Getting comfortable being uncomfortable and starting before you’re ready with the “yes, and” improvisation method.
Critical curiosity: When opinions are currency and fake news is everywhere, how can we train ourselves to do the work required to hold an opinion?
Design for inclusion: Moving from polarisation to progress.
THE LEADING EDGE
Owning the will and the way
The mastery of leadership lies within unlearning as quickly as we learn, thinking collectively and acting in the moment backed with the discipline of preparation and planning. How do we help our leaders sustain their own energy as well as momentum for change?
Unlearn, learn and relearn: growing others to grow ourselves when leadership requires a circular growth mindset.
Build your tribe: Inspire and empower followership to scale systemic change.
Preparation discipline: Get your goals in place and know when to get out or your own way.
Sustainable momentum: Bio empathy and the ability to work “on and in”.
Holly Ransom Bio
Holly Ransom is a globally renowned content curator, powerful speaker and master questioner with the belief that if you walk past it, you tell the world it’s okay. Named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review, she has delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama,was Sir Richard Branson’s nominee for Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List’ of Future Game Changers to watch and was awarded the US Embassy’s Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Leadership Excellence in 2019. Having interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Branson, Billie Jean-King, Condoleezza Rice, Nobel Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and the world's first humanoid robot Sophia, Holly fights complexity with curiosity, apathy with empowerment and fear with fact. As a Fulbright scholar and Harvard Kennedy School Class of ’21 fellow, Holly is a recipient of the prestigious Anne Wexler Public Policy Scholarship, allowing her to action social and economic inclusion by connecting people with the decisions that affect their lives. Soon to release her book The Leading Edge, Holly helps people harness their own potential to lead by asking better questions, thinking beyond biased answers and building collective momentum for change. In The Leading Edge, Holly brings the real-world leadership lessons of so many diverse thinkers and pioneers she’s met to the fore. Holly was identified early as a dynamic thought leader, asked to Co- Chair the G20 Youth Summit in 2014, the United Nations Coalition of Young Women Entrepreneurs in 2016, and becoming the youngest Director ever to be appointed to an Australian Football Club, the mighty Port Adelaide. Holly’s podcast ‘Coffee Pods’ was named in the top ten business podcasts to listen to by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2018, and Holly has been recognised as a LinkedIn Influencer and a credible content producer by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Herself an accomplished company director, Holly has compressed a power-packed career into a decade, spanning corporate, non-profit and public sectors. As founder and CEO of consulting firm Emergent, Holly has led real-world results with clients such as P&G, Microsoft, Virgin, Cisco and KPMG. Holly has also been a regular on the likes of The Drum and QandA. As a proud champion for diversity and inclusion, Holly is Chair of Pride Cup Australia, a non-profit organisation (and movement) devoted to challenging LGBTI+ discrimination within sporting clubs - and make them welcoming and supportive environments for LGBTI participation and fans. A two-time ironwoman, Holly loves to cook, dance and sing... despite her complete lack of talent at all three.
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Energy Disruptors is a catalyst for bold, game-changing solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges. In 2018, we brought together global leaders like Sir Richard Branson, New York Times best-selling author Susan Cain, Suncor’s Steve Williams, Bloomberg’s Michael Liebreich and Formula-E World Champion Lucas DiGrassi to ignite conversations and collaborations to drive transformation in the energy sector.
On September 17th, 2019,the world’s boldest energy trailblazers will collide in Calgary to redefine future energy. For two full days, the Oil and Gas industry will join forces with the influencers at the forefront of energy transformation. This year, Sir Ken Robinson and Malcolm Gladwell will be joining the conversation at EDU2019.
Together we will cross industry and policy barriers, break restraints on thought and harness the powerful potential of human ingenuity and technology. Together we will accelerate game-changing energy solutions on a global scale.
Most events start a conversation. #EDU2019 is a high-impact event designed to ignite action.
Holly Ransom was a very active outdoors kind of kid, which is hardly surprising for someone who grew up in Perth. She went surfing whenever she could and played lots of sport. When she was eight, she wrote in her school scrapbook that she wanted to be a Brownlow Medallist. So it came as a shock a couple of years later to be told that girls weren’t allowed to play football any more – as far as she was concerned, she was a ten-year-old Auskicker looking for the next level.
‘I remember bursting into tears – I was devastated,’ Holly says. ‘It struck me as so weird that I wasn’t allowed to do something that my brothers could do.’
That was Holly’s first real experience of inequality, and it happened to be in relation to gender. In her adult working life, she has made it her business to be influential in ensuring that equality is on the agenda of decision makers, world-wide. In sport, for example, at 27 she was the youngest board member ever appointed by an AFL club (Port Adelaide) and she was on the advisory board for the launch of the AFL Women’s League.
Holly recalls a defining moment at school, something that really got her thinking about how our ideas of gender equality are formed. Her Year 5 teacher loved giving the students logic problems. They would finish the day with brain benders, like this:
A father and son are driving home from school, and just as they’re turning into a road near home, they’re hit by a reckless driver. The car spins. The boy is thrown out of the car, and his dad is trapped inside. Fortunately, a bystander sees it happen, calls an ambulance, and the kid is rushed to hospital. When they arrive, the surgeon swings open the doors, and declares, ‘That’s my son.’ How is that possible?
‘There were thirty-four of us in the class, with 15 minutes on the clock,’ Holly says. ‘Our best guess was that the boy must have had two dads. Not one of us thought that the surgeon was the boy’s mum. That’s such an interesting thing to look back on, that shift in thinking between ages 8 and 10, from believing I could be a Brownlow Medallist, to unconsciously self-selecting out mine and my gender’s ability to be in that sort of role.’
Holly had leadership roles on the sporting field at school, and naturally gravitated towards positions of responsibility, yet it took her a while to recognise her own potential to really make a difference. ‘I found I could rally the troops, and I’ve always been quite mature for my age,’ Holly says
‘The big change was when one of my teachers sent me on a leadership program that really challenged my idea of what a leader could look like. I thought you had to be older to have a real impact, yet there I was with these unbelievable 14 and 15 year olds for a week, and they were volunteer firefighters and running amazing aid projects; they were making a real difference in their communities and schools. I was the runt of that pack – not in a competitive sense, purely because I genuinely had no idea that this sort of thing was possible at our age.
‘At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed. I thought, I’m going to get out there and have a crack at some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.’ .
“At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed … I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.”
After school, Holly ended up with a Law degree and BA (Economics) with a minor in political science. ‘I always describe my life as having a really strong sense of direction but loose hold of the reins,’ she says. She couldn’t ever have predicted the roles and opportunities that have come her way.
Underlying those opportunities is the fact that Holly has known what she’s passionate about for a very long time. She is driven to:
improve the lives of those less fortunate in our community, and generally raise the standard of living in our society
provide a voice for people who are voiceless in our current systems
engage other people in their ability to be agents of change.
But it’s all very well to have big aspirations. It’s much harder to actually make things happen. ‘I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you mobilise a group of people. Very quickly, my focus became wanting to unlock other people’s capacity to believe in themselves as part of the change and the solution.’
“I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you can mobilise a group of people.”
Holly’s impressive achievements, including her current role as CEO of her own company, Emergent, can be found here. Hers is an inspiring story of finding mentors and taking chances and learning from corporate stints at NAB and Rio Tinto, then choosing her own path. Her keynote speaking portfolio has taken her to six continents. She’s had many pinch-yourself moments with world leaders: she’s delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, has chatted with Barack Obama about her work chairing the G20 Youth Summit, and hangs out with Richard Branson.
And yet behind the highlights reel, by 2013 Holly Ransom was struggling. She couldn’t sit still – she had to be constantly doing things, stuck on the hamster wheel. There were warning signs – little things, cracks appearing – but she was too busy bouncing off walls to notice them. Luckily, friends and a good GP told her she needed to take better care of herself, that she needed help. She was diagnosed with depression.
Like many people, at first Holly wondered why she couldn’t just push through. Then she approached the diagnosis with her typical tenacity. ‘I knew I wanted to come out the other side stronger than I’d ever been. I wanted to use the diagnosis as an opportunity to reset. I sought advice from people who had my best interests at heart and made significant changes to the way I lived and worked. I exercised more control over who I was surrounded by – who I was listening to and being influenced by. ‘That journey from depression is the hardest thing I’ve done and what I’m proudest of. I was terrified of talking out loud about it, because of the stigma attached to mental illness, but it was the story behind my first Ironman in December 2015, and I wanted to let people to know they’re not alone.’
“It can hurt you and upset you to hear people saying you can’t do something, but you have to believe in yourself.”
Ironman is a gruelling triathlon: a 3.8-kilometre swim in open water, a 180-kilomtre cycle and a 42-kilometre marathon. To build endurance fitness, you need to train around 20 hours a week. Holly wanted to set herself a big physical and mental challenge, to show herself that anything is possible. As ‘a prolific goal setter’, she was looking for something that would really test her, and with Ironman, she found a bottomless learning pit. ‘Every time I train, I learn something new about myself. So it has massive flow-on effects for the way I work. It energises me, and I’ve learnt to put training into my week as a priority.’
Holly doesn’t spend time reflecting on her past achievements – there’s far too much forward thinking to be done. And with a second Ironman under her belt, she knows anything is possible.
“It’s wonderful to be included in a gallery of such formidable, impressive and inspiring women,” Haussegger told The CEO Magazine. “I love reading and hearing other women’s stories, and not necessarily the success stories but just how they’ve done what they’ve done.”Previous
Women & Leadership Australia established the awards five years ago to celebrate female leaders and increase the presence of women in business and community leadership roles.
Waters, who made headlines in 2017 for breastfeeding her daughter while passing a motion in parliament, told The CEO Magazine it’s important to celebrate the outstanding women creating a better world.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” she says. “At the moment, the parliament is pale, male and stale and we need more women in there, which will not just create a more diverse political arena but also go a long way to fixing gender equity issues in other areas of our lives.”
Haussegger, who won the Australian Capital Territory award, said it was great to step back and take a moment to appreciate the merit of women’s work, which often goes unvalued.
“I think the role of awards such as this can’t be understated when it comes to aspiring younger women,” Haussegger says. “It’s terrific; in fact, very encouraging to see women come together to share stories, hear from other women, and share research tips and strategies for not only advancing in the workplace but for also encouraging others to aspire to leadership positions and step up.”
As the awards increase visibility and momentum for Australian women to receive equitable access to leadership positions across all industries, Haussegger, who was the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year, works to educate the nation on gender equality.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” – Larissa Waters
Non-experts are more often than not solving problems that have stumped experts, because they are bringing an unbiased, fresh perspective.
Emergent chief executive Holly Ransom, motivational speaker, advocate for young people and high-performance advocate, said that as world economies moved from industrial to knowledge-based, organisations were struggling to include the right people “in the conversation”.
“Truly great organisations, great leaders in the period ahead will be defined or typified by the diversity of the five people they spend the most time hanging around with,” Ms Ransom told the Property Council of Australia WA’s annual Women in Property lunch.
“In the context of leadership, think about the diversity of the five people you spend the most time around professionally.”
“Is there an opportunity to inject someone of different age, gender, cognitive perspective, cultural background, sexual orientation?” She added, however, that companies and leaders could easily diminish the power of diversity and inclusion by failing to create an environment of trust.
Four of the five components of the “secret sauce” of high-performing teams — trust, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact — were rendered useless without the first. “You cannot have a high-performing team without psychological safety (trust),” she said.
“How comfortable do people feel being vulnerable and taking risks — stuff that is the lifeblood of innovation,” Ms Ransom said. “What work are we doing to make sure our organisation is psychologically safe?”
Google, she says, benchmarks itself on psychological safety, asking staff if they feel they can walk into a meeting and offer a different point of view, take risks and “bring your whole self” to work.
About three-quarters of future jobs would involve science, technology engineering and maths skills, areas of study in which girls were dramatically under-represented.
In some cases, old biases were unwittingly hard-coded into technology designed to, for example, recruit for jobs, or conduct voice-based searches.
Some tools designed to empower women in work conceived of them as employees, not business owners, as many are in the gig economy.
However, she said despite dire stories illustrating the need to turn around women’s access to finance, jobs, management roles and a share of procurement, clever people were using technology to right old wrongs.
She cited GetRaised, a platform designed to overcome the impact of the reluctance of some women to ask for pay rises or promotion, which resulted in 74 per cent of those using it in the first 12 months getting a pay rise.
Another was designed to ensure women didn’t cut themselves out of equity deals in start-ups, potentially losing access to wealth generated when companies listed.
In a later panel discussion, Vicinity Centres executive general manager development Caroline Viney said companies unable to diversify would fall behind in a rapidly changing world. She encouraged safeguards against hiring “people like us”, instead breaking down a role, the ways it could be executed and seeking a person with transferable skills to propel an organisation forward.
ISPT chief executive Daryl Browning said he had been encouraged, as a man with power, to take a stance against excluding women. Getting a company motivated to change, he said, involved appealing to altruism, “the carrot”, but also some stick, or the fear of risking “being left behind”.
CBRE Asia Pacific deputy general counsel Somerset Hoy said CBRE was committed to inclusion in gender and LGBTIQ equality and the idea of “bringing your whole self” to work.
“We believe if you can’t be open and comfortable with who you are at work, you are not going to be happy, or do your best work,” Ms Hoy said.
“We are one of the very few property companies on the pride and diversity employer or choice list.”
Holly Ransom joins host Craig Reucassel on ABC’s The Drum, alongside panelists Van Badham, Kate Carnell and Rory O’Connor for a feisty discussion across breaking topics in Australia and overseas.
The panel discusses the freshly released documentary by Al Jazeera titled How to sell a massacre, exposing One Nation’s promise to influence our country’s democracy as part of a failed bid to secure political funding from Koch Industries, a United States energy giant. The panel debates whether Australia’s gun lobby rivals the US, whether the revelations will change loyal voter sentiment, and whether journalistic integrity was compromised in filming the piece with hidden cameras. To what level will we tolerate breaches of privacy for the benefit of public good?
The George Pell case has thrown light on the issue of suppression orders and protection of the integrity of court proceedings. The panel discusses where the line should be drawn in journalistic responsibility between protecting the chance for a fair trial and ensuring the public is kept informed. With the 24 hour instant news cycle, international media pick up on the story second hand, rather than being told by journalists present in the courtroom. Who’s responsibility is trolling and where is the accountability of the platforms?
Also on the agenda is the “very small” NSW coal plant on the list of Scott Morrison’s energy projects, and the importance of engaging the next generation of voters on issues rather than “the politic at large” and the rise of independent parliamentarians. And finally, the need to preserve Indigenous language for generations to come.