Better Boards Conference 2023

Better Boards Conference 2023 Forging Strategic Pathways BRISBANE, 2–3 JUNE 2023


Leadership in the Australian Charity Sector - and its Challenges

Dr Samuel Wilson

Associate Professor of Leadership, Swinburne Business School

Samuel is a social psychologist and an Associate Professor of Leadership in the Swinburne Business School. His research focuses on the nature, forms, and development of leadership for the common good. Samuel is a founder of the Australian Leadership Index, co-lead of the Public Interest Technology program of Swinburne's Social Innovation Research Institute, Deputy Director of the Swinburne's Social Psychology of Innovation Research Group, and co-convenor of the Technology x Society Forum.

The Australian Leadership Index Australians are tired of leaders and institutions that prioritise self-interest over the broader public interest. The Australian Leadership Index aims to provoke and sustain a national conversation about leadership in Australia. It also aims to contribute to the development of a national leadership culture of leadership for the greater good. To foster this national conversation, we track public perceptions of leadership by twenty-five institutions across the government, public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. All results and reports are freely available via our interactive dashboard. The Australian Leadership Index is the largest ever study of leadership for the greater good in Australia.

What do not for profit leaders view as the major challenges facing our sector? And how does the Australian public perceive our sectors sector’s ability to competently address those challenges and deliver the social impact our society needs to flourish?

This session will incorporate interlocking perspectives of the industry sector – not for profits (insights provided by Carmel Molloy, CEO and Co-Founder of The NonProfit Alliance) – and academia. For the first time in its 4-year history, The Australian Leadership Index has analysed the performance of charities, against national benchmarks on the key drivers of leadership : INTEGRITY COMPETENCE and CONTRIBUTION - against 25 other industries. As a sector who relies so heavily on public support, these findings are of strategic importance – and analysis of the key drivers within each of these categories has revealed some strong trends. Unsurprisingly, the charity sector is viewed as one of high integrity that provides significant value to Australian communities and performs strongly on all drivers of leadership overall.

However, this report also indicates that they perform significantly below the national standard on public perceptions of technological leadership and innovation; financial contribution; employment opportunities; and stakeholder benefits. There is great scope for the sector to improve on these perceptions to ensure we attract the best workforce and supporter base in the future.

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