We spoke with Billie-Jo Barbara CMgr FIML, chairperson and non-executive director at Siblings Australia, in our latest Member spotlight.
Here she shares her thoughts on leadership and the highlights of her career so far:
Q: What’s been your most significant achievement as a leader?
A: It was seeing the successes of other people’s careers. Seeing people thrive and grow in their careers and achieving incredible goals they’ve set. I hope that I’ve been a part of pushing them along.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: When I was leaving Sydney to go to Darwin, my executive assistant gave me a light-up plaque that said: “be in the moment”. So the lesson is to appreciate where you are at that particular moment. I hope that people do learn a little bit of that through our current times. So instead of focusing on the next step or task – and there’s nothing wrong with driving yourself forward – appreciate your team or your work on an exciting project. Stop and reflect on that and celebrate, enjoy and appreciate it.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: Interestingly enough, for International Women’s Day two years ago, I wrote an article about one of my grandmothers, but I think it’s both of them that I admire. That might seem unusual when talking about leadership, but I believe they were unrecognised leaders in their lives. My mum is Scottish, and my dad is Maltese. The Maltese nana hopped on a boat and travelled for six weeks with four children on her own while her husband was in another country. She raised her family in a country where she didn’t speak the language as her first language and was quite isolated from family and what she knew.
My other grandma ended up having a husband who became a quadriplegic due to a workplace accident. As a result, she became his carer for the best part of 20-30 years.
I think as women, they were both unrecognised for what they did, but I think both have influenced me in several ways and also gave me a massive appreciation for the opportunities that I’ve had for the lives they’ve both helped set up for their families which is my family.
Q: What’s the most essential quality a leader must possess?
A: For me, it’s authenticity. If you’re not authentic to yourself and who you are, it will get found out along the way. So I think that’s a fundamental attribute for the people you are leading to see that this is who you are and your personality and what you stand for.
Q: How do you continue to develop your management skills?
A: In the last few years, I started to look at what’s around me, and sometimes I pick up lessons in what not to do and examples of outstanding leadership. I think it’s been a little less academic. On top of observing other leaders’ behaviours, attributes, and qualities, I also set aside time for self-reflection and self-care. I create opportunities to look at what I’m doing and reflect on it and journal it rather than constantly doing. I’ve worked in enough environments to know that’s not sustainable so having that balance of picturing what great looks like and reflecting on it.
Q: What motivates you to be the leader that you are today?
A: The continuing opportunity to make a difference in the work that I’m doing and again make a positive difference in the careers of people I’m working with.