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Mike's Minute: Leadership is needed in quitting as well

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Nov 2023, 9:39am

Mike's Minute: Leadership is needed in quitting as well

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 21 Nov 2023, 9:39am

Does stepping down have a gender component to it? Who would know. 

But you could argue, especially in this day and age, that the resignation of Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the CEO of Optus, is a very clear sign of the buck stopping at the top. 

Female leaders are leading the way when it comes to responsibility for their actions, and it comes at the same time we didn’t get a resignation from a man. It took a rolling of Hamish McLennan from Australian rugby. 

Both made horrific errors, both were in charge of catastrophic cock-ups, and both had most of Australia calling for their heads. But only one did the right thing. 

It's often the case. We are very quick to criticise those at the top. It looks easy being the boss of stuff, you get big money, big power and, most of the time, nothing catastrophic happens. 

Your success or otherwise is dealt with behind closed doors, by boards who hold you accountable for KPI's and goals and various other bits and pieces that the wider world never really sees, nor cares much about. 

But in these two exceedingly high-profile cases what is, or should never be forgotten, is the cold, hard truth that you are only one mistake away from calamity. 

Sport is important to countries like Australia and New Zealand and being able to use your phone and internet is kind of up there as well. 

No one would have been able to name the head of Optus, the same way most of us don’t know who heads Spark, or the chair of the NZ Rugby board. 

But in Australia you become a household name overnight when you're in charge of the mess. 

McLennan looked like a prat. He made a captain's call on Eddie Jones, not unlike NZ made a call on Scott Robertson over Ian Foster. That is yet to play out fully. 

For Eddie, we all know what happened, but someone left behind had to pay for that. McLennan, despite it being his call, didn’t want to go so he got rolled, and rightly so, and looks like the miserable sod he is. 

To Rosmarin's credit she owned it, fronted the Senate committee last week and quit yesterday. She didn’t pull the plug or mess up the software, but she ran the company that looked for about 10 hours a week or so back, like a third-world shambles. At the time she didn’t front and when she did, she was shocking, the Government bailed her out and the public wanted her gone. 

She did the right thing 

The lesson is leadership comes in all shapes and sizes and all forms. You lead on good days and bad. Knowing when to quit and how to act honourably is a skill. 

Both are gone. But only one did it the right way. 

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