Kwinana City Council chief executive Neil Hartley talks to BRIAN OLIVER about his career in local government and his life away from work.
Q: What does leadership mean to you?
A: Leadership is about many things and there are text books full of great interpretations if you wish to spend some time reading them. A couple of important personal leadership goals for me, though, are to show I have high levels of integrity and I treat people fairly and consistently. One important ‘not to do’ is to fall into the trap of thinking I am achieving more than I actually am, and to share the organisation’s successes and accolades among everyone who worked to achieve them – rarely is the chief executive the only person that makes something happen.
Q: How has your leadership style changed over time?
A: I have always been cautious with my leadership responsibilities as I was only 23 when I was first appointed as a local government chief executive in a small country shire. I was always concerned not to appear “too directive” and that meant I was often reluctant to make the hard decisions that maybe should have been made. I am still careful not to be too directive, but I am now more definite in my position when I think firmness is called for.
Q: Which technology can you not live without?
A: My iPhone. You can be any where, any time, and still be in contact with the office.
Q: What are your interests outside of business?
A: Local government officers have a day job plus night-time meetings so “time outside of business” is limited and precious. I love to cook and I love it when my kids and grandkids come around.
Q: How do you like to relax away from the office?
A: I have a Harley Davidson motorbike I enjoy riding. I love the smell of the open spaces and the fact that your mind is clear of everything but the minute you are enjoying. But most of all, I enjoy spending time with my partner (wife in November) Kylie – enjoying a walk, meal or a movie together.
Q: What’s the best advice you were ever given?
A: “Don’t ostracise anyone ... you never know when you might need their help,” Cr George Bailye – Shire of Kojonup.
Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
A: Be smart enough to appreciate what you don’t know, and confident enough to employ the people that do.
Q: Tell me the biggest business challenge you’ve ever faced.
A: We’re facing it right now. Making sure the growth and development of Kwinana is professionally managed so Kwinana remains sustainable and relevant to the community.
Q: What do you hope Kwinana will be like in five years?A: I hope it is sustainable in all respects. I hope it is a place where more people will want to come and live; where families can be safe and people actively volunteer; where industry and business can grow and prosper; where families actively encourage their kids to get a better education – and they do.
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