Culture Bites 017 - Rebecca Kardos, CEO Aurora Energy

Published on 14 Aug 2018

We talk to Rebecca Kardos about why culture change takes courage and commitment. Rebecca is speaking at our Culture & Leadership Conferences in Sydney/Melbourne this September. Make sure you register your spot. This episode is hosted by Corinne Canter and Dominic Gourley.

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Rebecca Kardos

Rebecca is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Energy the Tasmanian State-Owned energy retailer. She has significant executive experience in the utilities sector in Australia and New Zealand as well as non-executive director experience in the not-for-profit sector and with industry bodies.

The topic for this year’s conference is “_________ That’s Culture!” and we asked our speakers to fill in the blank. Rebecca’s answer was “Courage and Commitment”. For Rebecca, she wanted to talk about how shifting a deeply embedded culture is complex and difficult, things don’t go to plan, and perceptions don’t always match reality. Her talk will focus on how leaders continue to lead even in the face of significant setbacks. Leaders need focus and long term personal commitment to sustain change. Rebecca will share her personal story and insights, as the CEO, of the ups and downs of culture transformation.

Why We Like This Topic
This is an interesting topic because it’s honest and real. Too often we only hear the success stories, but no one touches on how to stay committed even through the tough times with change. It’s a story we think many people in the audience will be able to relate to because change isn’t easy, it’s filled with challenges, and it doesn’t always work. It’s ultimately how you get through those periods is what will decide if you’re successful or not.  

You Can’t Copy Culture
A lot of leaders ask us what the pitfalls are and what they need to avoid when it comes to culture change. We can outline a bunch – such as lack of accountability, inconsistent leaders etc – but part of the culture change and part of the transformation is the organisation learning how to navigate the pitfalls. Culture change isn’t mistake free or challenge free – but it’s about learning how to navigate those ups and downs together – that is where the new ways of working come from.

Too often people look to famous companies and try to just copy the things they do. But without the same journey and the same learning, it’s not going to work for you. These companies might be 5, 10, 15 years into a culture change journey – so the things they are doing now might not work for an organisation just starting out. We did a Whitepaper on levels of organisation consciousness some time ago you can read here:
Part1 and Part 2.

Why Rebecca Become so Interested in Culture
In an organisation Rebeca was part of in 2008 there was a significant event and one of the findings was that culture was a key contributing factor. At the time Rebecca was Head of Employee and Organisational Services and – together with the OD Manager – had to come up with a culture strategy and plan to transform the culture so events like the one that happened would never happen again.

From a Plan to a Belief
While rolling out the culture strategy, the importance of leadership to drive the culture became really clear. That meant Rebecca had to look at her own feedback and development and completed a Leadership/Impact diagnostic and coaching. That experience was a wake-up call for Rebecca around a bunch of beliefs she held about leadership which were contributing to the current culture they were trying to change. She had to re-think those beliefs to instead drive a Constructive Impact.

Why “Courage and Commitment”?
Rebecca was finalising her conference topic when she received new organisational culture results – and they weren’t great. She was reeling from challenging feedback and could feel herself going from a confident leader of culture change – to realising that culture change is tough and complex. She realised that she needed to double down on her commitment and have the courage to look at her own leadership, and the organisation’s leadership, and say “well ok what we’ve been doing isn’t working, let’s reframe this and start again. We’re trying different things and we’re having different discussions as a result fo the feedback”.

Register for our Annual Conferences in Australia and New Zealand this September:

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Listen to more Episodes of the Culture Bites Podcast:

001: Kick Starting a Passive Team
002: Dealing with Delegation
003: Telling Someone They have a Blind Spot
004: What's Wrong with Being Competitive?
005: I have a Competitive Teammate – Help!
006: What is a Toxic Culture?
007: How Leaders Impact Culture
008: Is Culture / Climate / Engagement the same thing?
009: My Manager is Resisting Culture Change
010: How the Banks got here
011: Myth Busters: If I’m not Aggressive then I must be Passive
012: How Culture Works Pt1 – Overview
013: How Culture Works Pt2 – Mission, Philosophy, Structures
014: How Culture Works Pt3 – HR Systems
015: How Culture Works Pt4 – Job Design
016: How Culture Works Pt5 – Leadership

Culture Bites Podcast is Copyrighted © by Human Synergistics Australia 2018. All Rights Reserved.