Today is the first anniversary of the sacking of Australia’s Prime minister Kevin Rudd. The irony is not lost on most Australians that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ratings have nosedived disastrously on the very issues Kevin Rudd was said to be wobbly on. Her standing as an inspirational figure for the Australian population is in a tail spin.

 At the same time the very people that engineered Kevin Rudd’s demise and her ascendancy are gathering in solidarity around her, their political creation.

One union leader, who was instrumental in Kevin Rudd’s axing, has come out and called him a hypocrite. I’m impressed with the way Kevin is showing composure and great cheer about the situation he finds himself in, characteristically  sleeping outdoors to raise funds for the homeless.  Homelessness was his first priority on becoming Prime minister.

Had he, or the party, lost direction?

Julia has come out saying he had to go because he had lost his direction and purpose.  I happen to know he had a very clear sense of purpose,  because I was part of confidential discussions about the design and implementation of that purpose.  It seems to me though, he wasn’t at all confident, that the secularist party hacks would go along with his vision for battling Aussies.

The grand transformational dream.

He was exploring a grand dream of involving that part of the Christian church that cared about the community, to become involved in transforming the nine geographic and economic black holes that plague working class Australia today.

As we enjoy the SBS series, on asylum seekers ’Go back to where you came from,’  let’s remember Kevin Rudd said “On the matter of asylum seekers there will be no knee-jerk turn to the right while I’m still at the helm.”  As you watch that series (and I recommend you do) you will see the transformation in the thinking of ordinary reactionary Aussies once their hearts have been touched by the misfortune of others.

We are reminded of the right kind of leadership; leadership that is motivated by the quest for justice mercy and compassion more than the quest for power.

This was the kind of leadership Kevin Rudd was ready to deliver here and overseas had he not been removed by those who could not come to terms with his values.  We might well have avoided the inhuman rush to the bottom of the boat people issue.

“We have to at least give him something he believes in.”

On one occasion, when Kevin Rudd had left the cabinet room in the middle of a values based debate on overseas aid to take an urgent phone call, Treasurer Wayne Swan said to those present with great energy, “We’ve got  to  give him some of the things that he believes in.”

It is true that he didn’t always consult.  This was largely because toward the end he was hitting a brick wall, and realised his task was to attempt to shift the culture of the Labor Party as well as to shape the culture of the Australian community.   With his current 60% approval rating, it seems there is still sufficient trust for him to have led Aussies to a more generous and inspirational Australia.

The latest thinking on transforming culture.

Howard Gardner, author of ‘Leading Minds’ said” We now know the leader is an individual who discerns and creates a narrative. A powerful story that significantly affects the thoughts, behaviour and feelings of a significant number of people termed followers.

Since followers invariably know many stories, a leader is only effective to the degree that his  or her story is powerful. It needs to compete successfully for influence, amongst other already prevalent stories.

The most powerful stories turn out to be ones about identity. These are stories that help individuals discover who they are, where they are coming from, and where they should be headed.

The most crucial element in the effectiveness  of the story hinges  on whether the leader’s own actions and way of life reinforce the main moral themes of the story that he or she relates.

Plato said “Man is a being in search of meaning.”  If this is true and I believe it is, what we all need is the kind of leadership that lifts us beyond our shallow self interest to our spirit, and then points us in the direction of our highest calling.