Leadership lessons from former Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer

 In Author, Body language, Delivery, Facial expression, Feedback, Gesturing, Luminary, Media, News, The Winning Voice, Video, What not to do

Recently I listened to an insightful 65 minute podcast, Enjoying the ups and overcoming the downs of being a CEO of a very public organisation where former Westpac Bank CEO, Brian Hartzer was interviewed on the podcast The Leadership Diet by host Pod O’Sullivan.

Memorable points from the podcast for me included:

#1 Hartzer lauding the book Made to Stick. Hartzer said the book was an essential read for leaders on how to communicate with their people.

Made to Stick has six powerful ways to make your messages memorable. One point Hartzer made in relation to the book was that, ‘the value of novelty in communication is under-appreciated’.

#2 How Hartzer cultivated his judgement skill. In a crisis, he would judge a situation with this process:

– Sit back and think about what a certain action(s) would have on different stakeholder groups.

– Determine what was the question that needed to be answered.

– Field opinions from a wide range of trusted people on the matter at hand including what question needed to be answered.

#3 To use a combination of humility and confidence when making decisions.

Own the Conversation

Clients I work with often ask me if there is one book I’d recommend they read on communication. I’ve recommended different books over the course of my career, including Made to Stick.

After being reminded of the the worth of Made to Stick  by Hartzer, it will now be the top book recommendation for clients. I strongly recommend that you read it. You’ll discover at least one fresh idea or technique to make you a better communicator.

And better communicators, make better leaders.


p.s. In the podcast Hartzer said he has learned many things from his time as CEO of Westpac. He didn’t mention any specific mistake he made.

In my view, one glaring mistake Hartzer made, was how he communicated in a press conference – about the AUSTRAC scandal – during his final days as CEO of Westpac.

Below is (1) my AFR analysis of Hartzer’s delivery in the 3:16 minute press conference, and (2) the clip of the conference.

(1) My Australian Financial ReviewLetter to the Editor’ about Hartzer’s performance in the press conference.

(2) Here is the clip of the press conference.

Hartzer’s performance in the conference is one you should, NOT emulate.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to Behind the Voice

Regular insights, guidance and commentary on how communication influences business and the world around us

Thank you for subscribing