Working together to benefit Kwinana

BRIAN OLIVERSound Telegraph

Kwinana City Council chief executive Neil Hartley talks to BRIAN OLIVER about his career in local government and his life away from work.

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

A: Leadership is about many things and there are text books full of great interpretations if you wish to spend some time reading them. A couple of important personal leadership goals for me, though, are to show I have high levels of integrity and I treat people fairly and consistently. One important ‘not to do’ is to fall into the trap of thinking I am achieving more than I actually am, and to share the organisation’s successes and accolades among everyone who worked to achieve them – rarely is the chief executive the only person that makes something happen.

Q: How has your leadership style changed over time?

A: I have always been cautious with my leadership responsibilities as I was only 23 when I was first appointed as a local government chief executive in a small country shire. I was always concerned not to appear “too directive” and that meant I was often reluctant to make the hard decisions that maybe should have been made. I am still careful not to be too directive, but I am now more definite in my position when I think firmness is called for.

Q: Which technology can you not live without?

A: My iPhone. You can be any where, any time, and still be in contact with the office.

Q: What are your interests outside of business?

A: Local government officers have a day job plus night-time meetings so “time outside of business” is limited and precious. I love to cook and I love it when my kids and grandkids come around.

Q: How do you like to relax away from the office?

A: I have a Harley Davidson motorbike I enjoy riding. I love the smell of the open spaces and the fact that your mind is clear of everything but the minute you are enjoying. But most of all, I enjoy spending time with my partner (wife in November) Kylie – enjoying a walk, meal or a movie together.

Q: What’s the best advice you were ever given?

A: “Don’t ostracise anyone ... you never know when you might need their help,” Cr George Bailye – Shire of Kojonup.

Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?

A: Be smart enough to appreciate what you don’t know, and confident enough to employ the people that do.

Q: Tell me the biggest business challenge you’ve ever faced.

A: We’re facing it right now. Making sure the growth and development of Kwinana is professionally managed so Kwinana remains sustainable and relevant to the community.

Q: What do you hope Kwinana will be like in five years?

A: I hope it is sustainable in all respects. I hope it is a place where more people will want to come and live; where families can be safe and people actively volunteer; where industry and business can grow and prosper; where families actively encourage their kids to get a better education – and they do.

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