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Business News

Toxic leadership ‘fuelling’ Australian businesses as one in three inadvertently lead with fear, causing $2.3 billion productivity loss

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Expert urges leaders to acknowledge the subtle yet corrosive ways fear manifests: reducing performance, creating friction in interactions and diminishing psychological safety in work environments toxic leadership.

Toxic leadership ‘fuelling’ Australian businesses as one in three inadvertently lead with fear, causing $2.3 billion productivity loss

 

Expert urges leaders to acknowledge the subtle yet corrosive ways fear manifests: reducing performance, creating friction in interactions and diminishing psychological safety in work environments.

People can be motivated by a range of emotions, and a key one is driving corporate managers in today’s workplaces — fear.

A new study conducted and released today by Margot Faraci, a leading management expert and prominent senior leader in Australia with over 20 years experience at Macquarie Bank, NAB, CBA and more, shows toxic leadership is fuelling thousands of Australian businesses, with one in three (27%) harbouring unconscious fear.

A third of corporate managers are primarily motivated by fear, creating less efficient and less psychologically safe work environments that cost $2.3 billion annually in lost productivity. It’s a matter that goes beyond statistics; it touches the very core of leadership dynamics.

Fearful leaders in Australia lose an estimated $26,263 in a year (based on their salary and estimated hours lost), equaling a $2.3 billion cost in productivity across Australia.

Concerningly, seven in 10 (69%) of managers firmly believe stress and fear can be used as a positive or motivational tool, despite acknowledging its adverse effects on performance, well-being, and company culture.

The findings are part of a global study by Margot Faraci which analysed the leadership behaviours of 2,500 managers in Australia, the UK, and US, in order to map and uncover unconscious fear in leadership. The challenge is that thousands of leaders are often unaware they’re leading with fear or coming from a fearful response.

Expert urges leaders to acknowledge the subtle yet corrosive ways fear manifests: reducing performance, creating friction in interactions and diminishing psychological safety in work environments.

Expert urges leaders to acknowledge the subtle yet corrosive ways fear manifests: reducing performance, creating friction in interactions and diminishing psychological safety in work environments.

Fearful leadership isn’t just shouting or aggressive behaviour, it’s avoidance, complacency, decision fatigue, hesitancy to express viewpoints, fear of letting people down, micromanagement, reluctance to provide feedback, not creating space for others to speak up, holding back growth opportunities from others, and more.

Fearful leadership often stems from inexperience and low self-confidence, leading to increased stress, fatigue, and compromised decision-making. It’s also often attributed to past experiences, creating an ongoing cycle of leadership driven by fear.

Key findings also include:

  • 69% of fearful leaders in Australia firmly believe that stress can be positively harnessed in workplaces
  • 87% of fearful leaders in Australia regularly witness declines in team productivity due to toxic leadership
  • While the vast majority of leaders offer guidance and learning opportunities, fearful leaders are significantly more likely to either be fully hands-on or hands-off when it comes to trusting their direct reports.
  • Half (49%) of fearful leaders in Australia struggle with decision fatigue
  • Nearly two in five (38%) of fearful leaders regularly witness declines in team morale, half (51%) are unhappy with their job, and a quarter (23%) say workplace relationships are strained
  • A third (36%) of fearful leaders admit how showing compassion in the workplace can positively impact company culture, and nearly half (42%) admit it will positively impact productivity, yet fail to do so
  • Fearful leaders tend to shift the blame, believing management is at fault for declining productivity, largely due to micromanagement and lack of communication

 

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Business News

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

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NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.  

NHVR Chief Operations Officer Paul Salvati said the operation will commence this month and run for four weeks across NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, ACT, and TAS.

“Throughout the operation, we will prioritise education in the first instance to ensure operators and drivers have a clear understanding of the risks associated with non-compliance during heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry, and know how to manage them,” Mr Salvati said.

“Drivers and operators should always be practicing safe behaviours, such as implementing a daily check list to ensure the mechanical safety of vehicles, or utilising measuring devices, such as tape measures or height sticks, to confirm the vehicle and its load are within allowable dimensions.

“Managing safety risks can help prevent injuries and fatalities, avoid financial loss for the business, evade legal sanctions, enhance business reputation, and create a culture where informed safety decisions are made.”

Reflecting on last year’s construction focused national operation, Mr Salvati provided insights into the compliance outcomes.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

“In the last operation, from 1 March to 15 April 2023, the NHVR’s on-road officers inspected more than 1,200 vehicles, and we saw encouraging signs of compliance,” Mr Salvati said.

“Overall, 56.4 per cent of heavy construction vehicles were compliant across all HVNL categories, with especially high compliance across mass and loading.

“The results however, in the mechanical compliance category were indicative of the work we still have to do.

“Of the defective components identified, the most serious were in brakes, body and chassis, while others were found in lights and reflectors.”

Mr Salvati said the regulator is urging all operators and drivers working in the construction industry to keep safety front of mind.

“Heavy vehicle hazards in the construction industry traditionally include loads not being properly restrained, vehicles exceeding mass or dimension limits and of course, the mechanical safety of vehicles, especially heavy rigid truck, and trailer combinations.

“These may seem like standard risks, but they are amplified – especially on a construction site – by time pressures, constant loading and unloading, and the frequency of travel alongside other motorists on major roads and thoroughfares.”

Regulatory Advice for managing the risks of heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry can be found on the NHVR website.

 

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Business News

Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

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Sara Lee

Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The Gold Coast family, renowned for their successful rescue of the Darrell Lea chocolate brand from receivership over a decade ago, has once again emerged as saviours, this time for the embattled dessert-food brand Sara Lee.

In a deal announced by the company’s administrators, a private company owned by Klark and Brooke Quinn has stepped in to acquire Sara Lee’s Australian and New Zealand business, offering a lifeline to the 200 jobs that were hanging in the balance since the company faced financial turmoil late last year. While the financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed, the agreement is seen as a beacon of hope for the struggling brand.

The administration of Sara Lee, led by Vaughan Strawbridge, Joseph Hansell, and Kathryn Evans of FTI Consulting, has been navigating the company through a challenging period marked by debts exceeding $50 million. Despite the financial strain, Sara Lee has remained an iconic brand and a category leader in the frozen desserts market. The commitment and dedication of both staff and consumers have played a pivotal role in sustaining the business during these turbulent times.

Reflecting on the journey, Strawbridge acknowledged the resilience of the Sara Lee team and expressed gratitude for their unwavering support throughout the administration process. He emphasised the importance of the brand’s legacy and its significance to both employees and customers alike.

Sara Lee

Sara Lee Apple Pie

The Quinn family, synonymous with success in the Australian business landscape, has a proven track record of turning around struggling brands. Having previously founded VIP Petfoods, Klark Quinn spearheaded the rescue of Darrell Lea in 2012, orchestrating a comprehensive restructuring that revitalised the confectionery business. Under his leadership, Darrell Lea experienced remarkable growth, with earnings nearly doubling to $23 million and annual sales exceeding $110 million by the time of its sale six years later.

With their acquisition of Sara Lee, the Quinns aim to continue their legacy of revitalising iconic Australian brands. Klark and Brooke Quinn expressed their pride in restoring the Aussie-made-and-owned stamp to the Sara Lee brand, reflecting on their fond memories of enjoying Sara Lee apple pie and vanilla ice-cream with their family. While their immediate plans for Sara Lee remain undisclosed, their successful offer underscores their commitment to preserving and enhancing the brand’s heritage.

Given the Quinns’ history of successful exits, it is plausible that they may pursue a private equity exit for Sara Lee in the future once the business is back on track. Over the past nine years, the family has orchestrated exit deals totalling $610 million with Quadrant Private Equity through the sale of VIP Petfoods and Darrell Lea. The acquisition of Sara Lee marks yet another chapter in their entrepreneurial journey, reaffirming their status as key players in the Australian business landscape.

It’s worth noting that the Australian-based Sara Lee manufacturing business operates under license from the global trademark owner, enabling it to operate in Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia, and the Middle East. As the Quinns embark on this new venture, they are poised to leverage their expertise and resources to steer Sara Lee towards a brighter future, ensuring its continued success for years to come.

 

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Business News

December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

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Black Friday

December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The shift towards Black Friday sales and ongoing cost-of-living pressures contributed to a 2.7 per cent decline in Australian retail spending to $35.2 billion in December 2023, as per seasonally adjusted data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). However, in trend and year-on-year terms, there was a marginal increase.

According to ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber, the decline in December stemmed from reduced discretionary spending, as consumers moved their usual December expenditures to November to capitalise on Black Friday sales. This trend underscores the growing popularity of Black Friday events and the impact of financial pressures on consumer behaviour.

Despite the significant seasonally adjusted decline in December, retail turnover saw a slight 0.1 per cent increase in trend terms, indicating subdued underlying retail spending amidst volatile movements leading up to Christmas.

Black Friday

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) highlights a modest 0.8 per cent increase compared to December 2022, with department stores notably recording a 3.7 per cent growth. Other sectors, including other retailing, cafes, restaurants, and takeaway, as well as food, also experienced modest growth. However, clothing, footwear, accessories, and household goods saw slight declines.

While most states and territories saw year-on-year growth, New South Wales experienced a 0.6 per cent spending decline.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra attributes December’s results to the projected cautious Christmas spending due to budget constraints. He notes the impact of Black Friday on December trading, with many consumers opting for early gift purchases during the November sales event.

Despite challenges, department stores performed well in December, leveraging Boxing Day sales and promotional events leading up to Christmas.

Looking ahead, ANZ Research economists anticipate continued weak growth in the first half of 2024, with potential for improvement in the second half. Factors such as easing inflation, fiscal support, tax cuts, and a November rate cut are expected to support household incomes and boost spending later in the year.

 

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