The Co-CEO Model ‘Live Interview’

How these two leaders adapted the innovative Co-CEO model within work design to improve organisational outcomes and individual career satisfaction without the isolation, stress and overwhelm.

Olivia O’Connor: [00:00:00]

Today we’re talking to Jen and Michael from Uniting WA, Co CEOs, and we’re going to do a bit of a deep dive into the Co CEO model and talk about collaborative leadership, because if there’s two people that you want to talk to in terms of collaborative leadership, I think these two people are collaborative leadership.

Yeah. A perfect example of it. Just to introduce myself very quickly. I’m Liv from Liv by Design. I love collaborative experience design. So whether it comes in the form of customers or teams, it’s all around collaboration to improve experiences of work and just bringing really more joy into our, into our work life.

So that’s my, my purpose. And as I mentioned, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s, , customer experience. We’re interlinking that with employee experience and at the helm of all those positive workplace experiences. What I have found is it very much comes. To the quality of leadership [00:01:00] and collaborative leadership and authentic leadership.
So to run a quick introduction to both Jen and Michael.

Let’s kick off with Jen. So, Jen’s got 30 years experience in human resource management and 15 years in executive roles. Jen is a highly experienced and passionate professional. With a proven track record of leading teams to deliver contemporary HR and culture practices across diverse and complex organisations, including financial services, local government, community and service sectors.

Jen is also an accredited change management practitioner and a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute of Australia, where she participates in mentoring to promote the development of HR practitioners across Australia.

Michael initially joined Uniting to bring the focus to the transition of the Disability and Mental Health Services to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the [00:02:00] NDIS.
Not an easy task. His role then expanded to provide leadership across the operational teams to facilitate the delivery of… person centered community services that maximize the resources of Uniting in order to meet strategic objectives and achieve its purpose in providing best practice support to the most vulnerable members of the community.

A Masters of Business and Admin and Australian Institute of Company Directors graduate, Michael takes a relationship focused approach to business. development stakeholders engagement and client retention. This approach together with your strong business management skills and board experience is in the not for profit sector.
Michael Chester: Hello. Michael. Jen. Hiya. It’s always a bit daunting hearing your bio read out as you have to sit and listen to it.

Olivia O’Connor:

Absolutely. It really does feel so formal, doesn’t it?

When you hear your own history and experience played back to you.

[00:03:00] But certainly worth crediting to both of you, your skills and experience.
So Michael and Jen, we had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face in preparation for our discussion today. And we kicked off talking about leadership and leadership in general. , and we spoke about the not-for-profit sector and I guess some of the perspectives or bias around leaders within this sector. tHere’s a lot of constraints and, and passion, , in this sector.
And we, and we spoke a little bit about that, but I just wanted to throw this over to you in terms of your views on how leaders in this sector are perceived. And how you’ve potentially dealt with any bias that you’ve come across.

Jen Park:

Yeah, so somebody who’s not born and bred in the not for profit, and who only entered this sector four years ago, I’m very familiar with those views, and I think a lot of people thought that not for profits were a lesser sector, if you like, compared to more [00:04:00] commercial orientated, but having been in the sector now for four years, I think my reflection is a lot of people join this sector historically, because of their passion to help vulnerable individuals, but it has become in recent times, very much about running a business.

And so you need all of the same skills and qualities to run a business in this sector as you do in any other sector, whether it’s mining or whether it’s health. It is absolutely imperative that we have people that are working in our organisation that have those transferable skills from other sectors to enable us to run this business.
And that includes our leadership. ,

Michael Chester:

I think you know, often the the the external perspective might be that the not for profit sector is less than as well, because it’s, you know, how could it be as complex as running a, you know, an ASX listed company? Well, the reality is, if we use NDIS as an example, and, you know, you referred earlier to the fact that I was brought into this organization initially in terms of leading that [00:05:00] transformation.

So, in the last 10 years, we’ve gone from block funded support to people with disability with really in real terms, very little accountability for how that money was spent as long as it was spent on the people we were supporting to this model of individualized payments and packages for people and the transition of that was done by the entire disability services sector without people.

Thank you. Significant government support. So we were expected to figure out what’s the technology we’re going to use to make this work. We were expected to figure out. How are we going to make funding that used to be able to provide grouped support to people? How are we going to individualize that? How are we going to identify individuals living together and account for their individual funding packages and group living arrangements?
How are we going to roster people in a time built system? That sure is familiar to accountants and lawyers.[00:06:00]

For the same expectation when we’re dealing with people in terms of the support we provide. So by no means is our job simple or simplistic. In terms of the business that we run here at uniting, we’re running a 55Million dollar business that has. Something like 35 contracts, excluding all the individualized contracts for the 150 people we support in disability services in a price giving market, you know, like the government tells us what they’re going to pay us and we’re expected to deliver at that cost without any ability to, you know, increase prices as an organization or a business in a common market would be able to do.

So. You know, I think we are we are and at the same time, we’re responsible for, you know, the people that we’re supporting, which is an incredible degree of responsibility in terms of those who are, you know, really vulnerable and disadvantaged [00:07:00] in our communities.

Olivia O’Connor:

Yeah, absolutely. And there is that, you know, they say creativity needs restraints. And certainly within this sector, there is plenty of restraints in terms of the funding models, etc, that you’ve, you’ve almost got to go, okay, well, the services still have to happen. So how do we now think creatively about how we financially can, can deliver those services?
Which I think leads straight on into kind of innovative solutions and innovation within the sector. And that’s certainly something that I want to highlight because I think a lot of the leaders are naturally innovative. However not the first to be thought of in terms of industries and sectors when you think of innovation.

And that’s often because we think innovation is technology and often, you know not for profits are dealing with technology that Is, is maybe not, you know, the, the cutting edge because of the funding and the restraints that you’ve got and so that led me to both of you and this co CEO model it’s, it’s [00:08:00] fairly rare, so I love the fact that, you know, you’ve got articles in business news, you’ve got one coming out in HBR all around this co CEO model and the fantastic things that you, you’ve done with this Can you talk us through how it came about?
How did the, the co CEO model, how did it start? What were some of the triggers that, that kind of led you on the journey?

Jen Park: Sure.
So our existing CEO had a, had announced that she was leaving the organization. And so naturally the board looked to the executive team to see if there was any interest. So when we in anybody stepping in an interim space in the first instance, Michael and I, we sat down and sort of talked about what that opportunity potentially could look like.

But we also reflected on what was happening in the sector at the time. And if you think about at that particular time, we were in the middle of COVID. People were leaving the sector and I’m, when I talk people, I’m talking senior leaders, CEOs and C suite. and I’ll see you execs were leaving in droves and it was because the pressure [00:09:00] that was being put on them was huge because the role of a CEO has changed considerably over the years.

It is no longer just, you know, the face of an organization or a. Particular role that is external facing. It’s got to be everything. It’s got to be internal, external. You’ve got to be, you know, walking alongside, be very visible. You’ve got to be helping people find solutions. You’ve also got to be advocates.

You’ve also got to be building external relationships, be strategic, all of these things, which has, what comes with that is a considerable amount of pressure on you, which leads to burnout. So we came up with this idea that what about if we you know, put forward a co CEO model. So we didn’t backfill our executive roles.

We said, well, we’ll, we’ll still do a portion of those roles and we’ll elevate other people who will sit around us at that GM level. So it gives them opportunities to grow and develop, but we will share the [00:10:00] responsibility of being a CEO, equal responsibility, equal accountability. And so, We worked out what that would look like.

We identified what the benefits are. We highlighted what the risks could potentially be and considered solutions. And then we put that to the board as an interim solution, which they said yes to quite happily. And we did this for about six months. And during that time, we applied for the job as co CEOs.

And whilst the board were a little uncertain and then they were like, Oh, no, we think we need you know, one CEO because that’s what they were familiar with. As we continue to demonstrate the strength of two CEOs and the fact that we could run this business and we could do actually more than just one singular CEO.

It became evident that for uniting with us in the helm, it worked and they became very happy with this. and ultimately at the end of the six months appointed us to the role on a permanent basis.

Olivia O’Connor: [00:11:00]

Brilliant. And, and so during that period, did you, did you come against some skepticism? Was there some, some sticking points along the way?

Michael Chester:

Oh, yeah, I’d say we still, we actually what we don’t, we don’t have skepticism now. We have lots of interest now. But yeah, we definitely had skepticism in the early days. And I. I think whether this is my perception or reality, I almost think that there was a bit of like, oh, you know, one of you couldn’t handle it alone.

So, you know, they had to put two of you in, you know, that sort of sense of I don’t know righteousness from, from, from other people potentially. The, the thing was, is that internally with our existing teams, because we had both been here for a number of years, and our teams knew us. And when I talk about our teams, we’ve got 400 employees, you know, 400 plus employees, everyone got it.

They just were like, okay, well, if I would normally go to Jen in the past for this, then I’ll still go to Jen. If I’d normally go to Michael, I’ll still go to Michael. So everyone got it. And of course, one of the [00:12:00] risks that we identified when we spoke to the board about it was that we, you know, the board was rightly so concerned.

What if people start to play us off against each other and, we you know, that was the commitment we made to each other is that we are open and transparent with. About everything with each other, because we cannot afford to have people playing us off against each other for our own sense of leadership, but also for the, the leadership of the organization.
So, I think this was maybe the part that people did have trouble getting their heads around externally. It was really. What what does that look like? Firstly, how do people know who to go to? And secondly. Does that mean that each of you has got responsibility for only a certain part of the business? Are you just doing the same job you ever did?

Yes. And the reality is no, because we are both, as Jen said, equally responsible and accountable for the leadership of this organization as the CEO. Now, there’s 2 of us. But that doesn’t mean we divide it in half. It means that we accomplish [00:13:00] twice as much. And I think this is what’s visible now to people externally to us.

So relating back to that sense of burnout and exhaustion that a lot of CEOs face, whether they admit it or not, you know, that’s a reality. I think there’s a little bit of you know, how is it working out? How did you manage that? You know, it’s a bit more inquisitive now, maybe skeptical, right? And And we, you know, we’ve demonstrated that, you know, , you know, the joke with us is, we know we can be 2 places at once.

So I’m not all the time. Sometimes we’re the same place at once. We’ve been at a breakfast this morning where we sat on the same tape, same table, but we sat on opposite sides of the table. So we had different conversations with different people about our organization, huge benefit. But later on today, you know, we’ll be a different Undertaking different activities, whether they’re internal or external, and we can do that, you know, and so I think that that degree of scepticism has well and truly passed, I believe, but, and it’s really moved into that space of [00:14:00] curiosity.

Olivia O’Connor:

A human centred approach to a role that potentially is not is not suitable. The way it was and, and you were quite intentionally almost gave you that six months ago. Okay, this is what it would look like short term, but then longer term, you realize we’ll have, we actually really, really need to work on that, you know, pardon the pun, the united front between the two of you and, and that vision.

And so did you spend time? I know you’d worked together for a few years before the Co CEO model and, and before you dived into those roles. Okay. For you, had you already refined some of the vision and some of the things that you wanted to achieve for the organisation together, or did that more come about once you’d taken that, that CEO position?

Jen Park:

I think when we first started tossing the idea up, It was kind of natural to talk about our vision [00:15:00] and to talk about our leadership and, and those types of things, because if we weren’t aligned right from the start, it wasn’t going to work. So, it was really part of our conversation to make sure that we were aligned.

We were in agreement about how this organization needs to go forward. And it was. you know, very fortunate that we had such close alignment in our thinking. And and so it just became quite easy and natural for us to say, okay, we’ve got a shared vision. We’ve got a shared approach. One of the key things, and Michael mentioned it before, was about transparency right from the get go with the staff.

We’ve been honest. And transparent, which is not always the way of CEOs. Often, you know, they keep things very much to themselves and that might be a product of them, them or the organization, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to, to be very inclusive with our workforce and, and that included sharing the good and also the bad stuff about the organization, but inviting them to join us in that solution[00:16:00] finding and problem solving as we, you know, led the organisation forward.

Olivia O’Connor:

Yeah, absolutely. It does strike me that because of this model, it almost allows you to be more authentic, the more authentic yourself in that leadership role. Is, is that, is that kind of, is that correct? Is that what you felt along the way?

Jen Park:

Yeah, yeah, we are pretty authentic. Because we don’t have ego because this will only work if you are prepared to park your ego at the front door because you can’t have one person wanting to vie over the other one.

So we, you know, that’s why we’re just Jen and Michael. We don’t walk around saying we’re CEOs Sometimes, you know, I’ll say to Michael, I don’t know why they’re, they’re phoning me. I don’t know why. And then I’ll go, oh, that’s right. ’cause I’ve got a CEO title . You know, so it’s, it’s, and, and to, to be like that I think is what you need to be in this role.

You’ve gotta be really natural. You know, our role is to re lead this organisation so that we can achieve [00:17:00] the strategic plan and, and the other deliverables. It’s not for us to, you know, walk around with heads in the clouds. You know revelling in, in the role of being a CEO,

Michael Chester:

I think that’s a really, really significant element of our leadership style itself, which both of us would describe ourselves as, you know, a supportive leader, you know, so we recognize right from the get go that if we were going to make the difference that we want to make, while we have the privilege of being at the helm of this organisation that it had to be about bringing everybody along on that journey.

Ride with us. However, the ride looks as Jen said, the good, the bad and the ugly because we can’t do it alone. And the, the, the supportive leadership model is about us being available to people about us being authentic about us, not being able, not being afraid of saying around a boardroom table with our exec team we really don’t know what to do next. What do you guys think?

And then pulling that together to provide the [00:18:00] direction, because, of course, that’s the role of the CEO is to really, you know, guide the organisation So we you know, I think we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve got people across our organisation who will just stop by our desks and say, Hey, I just wanted to say, thanks for that card.

You sent me. I really appreciate it. Because. Jen is very good at making sure that people get birthday cards. Oh, lovely. And you know, during COVID times, when we had that COVID lockdown a year, a year, you know, a year and a half ago Jen and I drove around personally, all over the Perth metropolitan area, delivering COVID care packs to our team members, because we wanted them to know that we cared.

So it wasn’t just about COVID care, it was about we care about you. And so that. That is to me, that’s that’s what defines our authentic leadership, our version of authentic leadership. Is that demonstration of our willingness to to be receptive to conversations and want to be interested in people to be [00:19:00] interested in people.
That’s what it’s about.

Olivia O’Connor:

Absolutely. And I think, I think even that initial period, you know, if 1 of you had that. Ego, I guess. One of you would have said, well, I’ll put my hand up for the role solely and not going with that, united front of you doing it jointly. So so the process seems to have, have worked really well.

In terms of, strategy and how you work with with the team. How is how is that? What does that look like? So when you you’ve got your vision you recently launched your new strategic plan and I had the benefit of being in the room and Sensing the excitement from your team around this, how did you gather that kind of, that almost excitement of the unveiling and let’s just get stuck into this and, and, and do this and how did, you know, what roles did you both play?

Jen Park:

Well, I guess I was privileged to have been involved in lots of strategic planning.

[00:20:00] in previous organizations in a different sector. So I took my learnings from that and then I brought the best, if you like, to Uniting when I, you know, took the lead in this. And it was really about identifying a process that was, that suited our leadership and our vision.
So it was very inclusive. We had a fantastic facilitator that took away The, the responsibility from us and we, we could just, you know, participate as, you know, and employees of the organization as a facilitator took us through that process. It was very much about communication involving people. So collaborating with all different levels of the.

business the board, making sure the board felt included and taken on the journey. So they didn’t just get a surprise. They were, you know, absolutely taken on every step of the journey and given the opportunity to hear our thinking, understand our vision, and then have input. And it, and the [00:21:00] excitement came about by being creative.

and innovative in the way it was launched. We got lots of fun things happening, but then it still continues to resonate with the teams as they work out what does this mean to us at the ground level and then our commitment to continue to report on it, communicate to them over the life of the strategy.

So it’s a living, breathing document and the way that we work as we celebrate these achievements.

Michael Chester:

It was a long lead up to that. So you, you know, you were there for that. It was a great, great day when we launched the strategic plan at the beginning of July, but that was 11 months in the making, you know, so, and people had been brought in that it wasn’t 11 months behind closed doors where suddenly we said, it was 11 months of people being involved along, you know, every step of the way.

So actually really excited for real, because they wanted to know what it What did we arrived at? And, and and it’s making [00:22:00] sense to people because they had been part of it. And that’s a huge challenge for our organization. Is that sense making? We’re a really diverse organization in terms of the services we deliver in our, and, you know, the purpose that we set out to achieve in terms of supporting people who are, who are you know, disadvantaged and vulnerable and to try to find the common threads.

You know, there’s always room for improvement to really feel like we’ve got there very exciting to in terms of pulling together various teams across this organization who, you know, often on a day to day basis are operating a little bit silent because they’re just doing the work that, you know, they’re contracted to do through yes.

Through our contracted services. So it’s the, the opportunity to bring that really much more integrated and holistic approach to what uniting WA exists for.

Olivia O’Connor:

Yeah, brilliant. And I mean, you’ve certainly avoided what, what Roger Martin, who writes all [00:23:00] about strategy, he’s got all the books and, and wrote the book Plane to Win is the, the biggest mistake is people do strategy with a small group.

Two to three people behind closed doors, and then they release it to the world. Whereas you’ve certainly done the other approach, which is that inclusion and get gathering people’s voices because no one person has, has all the answers. But you can also sense that from the team that they’ve, you know, that excitement was like, well, I had my input.

What does that now look like? And how’s that looked at the package? So the engagement already is. you know, is up there. So it’s a tribute to you both. Congratulations and good luck with the delivery. It’s never easy, but even that iterative process where it’s a live living document and it’s not just left on the shelf, super important.

Back to you and, and your relationship and, and one thing that really stood out for me is the trust and support that you’ve given each other along the way. Because as we know every organization is, is hitting [00:24:00] tough times and has with the pandemic, et cetera.
And so how did that look? In terms of when you, you know, you’ve hit those really you know, tough points in time, and how have you supported each other?

Jen Park:

Yeah, most CEOs, it’s a really lonely job at the top, right? And, and you can talk to other people, but at the end of the day, you have to make the decisions.

We make the decisions. So we’ve got each other to talk to. We, we do think differently. So we bring different perspectives to a discussion and we’ve got different experiences. So, you know, we, we are able to put all that together when we’re talking about. a particular issue to help us find a solution going forward.

We also have fabulous staff around us as well and they add amazing experience and insight into any issue that we need to find a solution for. So we’re very, very privileged to have fabulous people in the organization.

Michael Chester:

I also think this is about vulnerability, you know, and again, coming back to being [00:25:00] authentic, and part of, you know, a big part of being authentic is being vulnerable, and we’re able to be vulnerable with each other.

You know, there’s, there’s no heirs and graces between the two of us in a sense of that trust building, because without vulnerability, you don’t get trust. And so we have had to learn that because in spite of the fact that we worked together before we took on this gig together, you know, sharing the CO, the CO CEO model you know, there’s still that sort of, you know, boundaries that you put in place between, you know, your personal life and your work life and whatnot.

And we still have boundaries, but they’re far You know, they’re they’re those boundaries are far less held. I suppose far less fortified. Yes, because we have to know and we, well, we, we, we believe in each other. We trust in each other. And in order to maintain that, we have to continue to share, you know, over our respective vulnerabilities.

And that’s a brilliant learning experience because of that fact that we think differently. So one of us might be [00:26:00] feeling a bit, I don’t know, you know, anxious about something. And the other one just goes, are you kidding? Yeah, you thought about this, you know, and oh, gosh, I never even thought about that.

Right? And , we can, we can center each other in that process.

Olivia O’Connor:

What I just love about that, that you’ve called that out is because when I first met with Jen I did take her through the collaborative leadership model, which I developed and her first call out was the vulnerability, , in terms of how you interact and then Michael, you’ve just called that out as well.

So it does show how aligned you are. Which is, which is fabulous. And then so one, one thing that I’m really curious about is when we talk about leadership, this, I guess, the different modalities to leadership. So there’s very much, you know, the leading from the front, which is obviously very important in a CEO role.

Then you’ve got that leading from the side, which is almost the coach, you know, and and being involved with people and then there’s leading from the back where you do sit back and allow people to, to rise and to almost set [00:27:00] the scene for how you help people grow, et cetera, with the two of you.

Do you find yourselves switching modalities at different times? And does that help? So if one’s at front, can the other kind of take a step back and look at the team and figure out how do we improve, you know, a sticking point within the team? And then maybe someone’s a coach in an, in a team. for whatever reason that some team needs, needs some extra support in delivering services.

Do you find yourselves just naturally switching between modalities as, as required?

Jen Park:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. We, it depends on the situation and the people involved will determine the type of leadership and support that we provide them. You know, some people are very, very capable and they just want to come and talk to us.

You know, about, as a sense check, other people come to us and they say, look, I really need your help because I don’t know the direction that I need to go in. And so we will, we will move into that space. Other people just say, we just want you to understand [00:28:00] what, what we’re facing. And so we will just walk alongside them and, and have that understanding.

Others want us to be advocates. So, you know, we are constantly switching the way that we engage with people, which makes it kind of. Exciting because it would be really boring if we were just doing the same thing all the time. Absolutely. But, you know, we, we want all of our employees to shine. I, I always say that a person arrives at an organization with a certain amount of skills and experience in their kit bag.

And we all know that. We all leave an organization at some point, so when that person does leave, I want them to leave with this size kit bag and with our best wishes so that they go on to be absolutely fabulous in their next opportunity, and so it is our job is to invest in their growth and development while they’re with us.

Michael Chester:

I think Jen talked about the we there, which it always is the week because we are the co CEO. But I think the other element of that, though, and thinking about those different modalities is that each of us [00:29:00] can be in a different space at the same time. Right? So we can have 1 of us leading from the front and the other 1 walking alongside someone.

Yeah, at the same time. Yes. And, and I hadn’t really thought about it as you put it that way. I think generally we would see ourselves walking alongside. If we talked in broad, general terms, set the direction, then we, we, you know, want people to flourish and thrive. And so we’ll walk alongside them unless they need something else.

Olivia O’Connor:

is there any advice you would give, to other organizations that maybe there’s a CEO out there thinking, you know what, there could be a better way. Is there, is there some advice you would give to other organizations who potentially this might be the right fit for?

Jen Park:

I think they have to really think about what it is that they.

Why they want to consider another model, right? You don’t just do it because, oh, they’re doing it over there, right? So think about what is, what is it that’s driving you [00:30:00] to, to reconsider the design of your organizational structure and what do you hope to achieve? And then, you know, you need to understand that when there’s 2 of you that are in this particular role, there are some things you’ve got to let go of.

There is some absolutely fabulous advantages to this, but you have to let go of them. I’ve got a friend who is a CEO of quite a large organization, and he said, I could never dream of this model because I want to be the one making all the decisions. And so for someone like that, this would never work.

Whereas, You know, if you are quite comfortable in sharing that space of jointly making decisions and jointly sharing in the success or challenges of an organization, then, then this is definitely a space for consideration.

Michael Chester:

I think as well, you know, if there’s any directors out there, you know, board chairs out there watching this right now, be very careful about thinking that you might impose this model on the organization [00:31:00] that you are on the board of because In our experience, I mean, this was our idea.

We knew we could work together. We committed to it. I can imagine a scenario where a board thinks it’s a great idea, but doesn’t have the buy in from the people that it has in its sites. And, you know, it could end up being, you know. Quite a disaster, really, because of some of those considerations, either about the added aptitude and desire to be in that situation, or just, you know, interpersonally kind of tension.

My other observation would be that there are probably organizations out there. Where there is a single CEO and a deputy or a CFO who is probably effectively filling the co CEO role position, but it just is not being acknowledged or recognized in a way that our board has been receptive to and [00:32:00] actually encouraging of recognizing and, you know, I, I think that, I think that’s an opportunity for organizations. They probably have the 2 people in the organization already, but then that will come down to, you know, again, ego and personality in terms of the CEO.

Olivia O’Connor:

So, yes, yeah, and I’ve certainly seen it play out within teams. So where potentially teams are growing so big that they have dual team leaders, for example, or managers.

What I sense is that. This, these roles certainly play to your strengths as individuals. So if there was someone out there who thought, you know what, this team is getting quite big in terms of reporting and that the role is, is growing is there something, you know, what steps could they take, do you think, to, to explore this a little bit, , is it, is it finding the right person to lead with?
Is it the conversations with their, Direct manager, et cetera. As leaders who are experiencing this for themselves, if someone else came to you [00:33:00] within Teams, how do you think you would receive that? And what advice would you give them?

Jen Park:

Well, we already have a team that’s got dual leadership. And they were in place long before we took on the co CEO role.

So we do know that it works in teams. It is about the people. That’s what it comes down to is the compatibility of the individuals and their alignment of their vision and the way that they’re going to work. Michael and I went out and said we’re going to put two people together and they weren’t a fit.

It would be a disaster. Yes. So, you know. It is the people.

Michael Chester:

Yeah. And I think, I think you know, to go to your question around, you know, how would somebody go about doing that? I think, I really think the same way we did, which is you explore it with the person that you think you might be able to explore it with.

Yeah. And then progress it from there. I, I, I think that the top down approach might be helpful in a supportive way to kind of enable it. But I wouldn’t think in [00:34:00] a directional way necessarily.

Olivia O’Connor:

Yes. And I said that I’m reading a lot around job design, but that is very directional. It is coming from top down, whereas this kind of job crafting is like, well, actually, I want to go here and it may not be a linear process of, it might be a side step, but as a person, I’m really interested in these other areas and I want to grow.

So it is about exploring that as individuals and then what you want to do in terms of career paths as well. Yep, absolutely. In terms of, finishing off, what’s been an absolute fabulous conversation. Is there anything else that you would like to, to really highlight in terms of, In terms of co CEOs.

Jen Park:

I think when we came into the role, there were a number of challenges that were before us. And so we together have been able to work systematically through those challenges to get us to a point now where we’re really moving into that really exciting space. So whilst we’re [00:35:00] still, you know, delivering.

The BAU side of things, we’re actually now starting to look into other more innovative ways of supporting those people that are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society, which you may not have been able to get to as a single CEO, because you might be still battling away on those problems.

So we’ve been able to use the power of both of us, or as our chair would say, the power of and to you know, perhaps get some momentum. To move things forward in a much quicker way so that we can actually move into that, that more exciting space of leading an organization fabulous.

Michael Chester:

Yeah, you know, we have a workforce that is so committed to what we do.
And to the people we support, and every single day, I am just so proud of that workforce and to see how they go above and beyond in an economic climate where we are facing increased demand on services and [00:36:00] increased pressure through funding and, you know, all sorts of challenges that that again, we’re fairly ready.

We’re fairly open and honest about certainly, you know, at an exec level and a GM level, we are, but across the organization. And I think that that just demonstrates the power of bringing people along the journey and trusting them. They will be able to handle that. I mean, we’re all adults. So we don’t need to mollycoddle people.

We don’t need to protect them from, you know, the real world. And and I think that that’s just so gratifying and satisfying for us to see that we have this workforce that stands behind us and believes in us.

Olivia O’Connor:

Brilliant. I want to thank you both. I feel like there’s just been so many benefits to this conversation in terms of how you’re leading the organization, whether it’s empowering people that work for [00:37:00] you, you have real trust and belief in them you’ve got gorgeous offices.

So, and you’re certainly approachable leaders. I really thank you for letting me highlight. How you’ve approached, the Co-CEO model, but also just leadership in general. I think it’s, I think it’s certainly something that people can learn a lot from. So I want to thank you for your time today.

And I encourage anyone to, reach out to, to both of you if they’re interested, , in more of the work that you’re doing or, or having further conversations. So thank you, Jen. Thank you, Michael. Super appreciate it. Thanks, Liv. It’s been a pleasure

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