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HomemioptometryLeadership Matters Paving the Way for the Future

Leadership Matters Paving the Way for the Future

The development and emergence of strong leaders – both those who lead from the front and from behind – is integral to every company’s success, and to optometry.

In a previous CEO role, I had the pleasure of participating in a futures workshop with an Aboriginal elder who provided a profound insight into ‘situational leadership’. This is a term bandied around in business schools around the world today. However, this gentleman was describing a time, prior to colonisation, when leaders emerged depending on the circumstances of the day. When there was a focus on finding food, when there were fires, drought, or floods, those with the relevant expertise came to the forefront and led.

It’s been such a pleasure to work with you all and, along with the national team and board, provide a platform for your individual and the profession’s continued success

I strongly believe that the role of a CEO is to provide a platform whereby those with expertise and skills get to use them to their full advantage and personal satisfaction. A CEO is not there to do the job of the team. A successful organisation is one full of diverse leaders, not all of whom are in the spotlight. There are many that lead through their specific capability, some who lead from the front, and those who enable others to shine while they lead from behind. This paves the way for organisational success, as everyone embodies ‘situational leadership’. I am enormously proud to say that this describes the team at the national organisation.

It has been an enormous privilege to spend the last five years working with staff whose success is predicated on their dedication to the dual focus of serving grassroots members and leading the profession. Excellence comes when these two elements are truly integrated. In truly successful organisations, these two elements don’t stand alone.

The ecosystem that I have described for a successful organisation can also be attributed to a successful profession, such as optometry. The national organisation, Optometry Australia (OA), its board and team, is devoted to ensuring an innovative, sustainable profession that is recognised for being critical to the health and wellbeing of the community.

The development of leaders in the optometry sector is part of our strategy and has been a focus of the organisation over the past few years. The annual ECO Think Tank has provided a platform to expose a younger cohort of practitioners to governance and leadership training, as has our annual student leadership program.

It is amazing to see several people emerge from these initiatives to join divisional boards and hold office bearer roles on the national board, such as our current Treasurer, Tori Halsey. The student leadership program spawned the Optometry Student Society of Australia (OSSA) which OA supports annually to run their virtual conference.


This year we have further invested in the Governance, Oversight, Leadership and Development (GOLD) program. Our inaugural participants are currently working through individual personality profile sessions and being coached and educated in developing greater understanding of themselves. This will enhance their ability to be empathetic leaders. Along with a number of directors from divisional boards, they are undertaking comprehensive governance training. In the ever more complex world of governance, these skills are not only beneficial; they are becoming critical when serving on a board.

GOLD participants will fi nish the extensive program with a one-day leadership workshop that provides them with opportunity to get a deeper understanding of leadership, working with others and maximising their own and colleagues’ skills to achieve success.

A key goal of this initiative is to build a cohort of capable leaders with strong governance skills. We look forward to them, and future participants, taking up roles on divisional boards, the national board and other optometry boards. Ideally, they will also go further afield and assume directorships on other health sector boards, providing opportunities to embed optometry in the broader health and medical space, and ensure a strong voice for eye health.

Contemporary governance is fundamental to a successful organisation. I feel incredibly grateful that the national directors have a strong commitment to governance, ensuring they undertake quality education and annually refresh their skills. A board director, just like an optometrist, must continually keep ahead of trends and develop professionally. They are responsible for our optometrist members and the profession as a whole, and the Optometry Australia directors always aim to be the best that they can be in serving members and the profession.

As a CEO, I serve the board, and they work as a collective. That is, there is one voice providing strategic direction and performance monitoring of the organisation and they do not operate as eight individuals nor delve into operations. A common term in governance is ‘noses in, fingers out’. I am sure the commitment to quality governance gives confidence to members that the national board operates and always strives for high performance. At the end of the day, a company is a company, whether it be BHP or the national organisation of Optometry Australia; all directors work to the same Corporations Act.


I am only weeks away from finishing my time as CEO of the national organisation, Optometry Australia. I want to acknowledge the national team and the directors who I have worked with over the past five years. I also acknowledge current President, Margaret Lam, and the President who recruited me into the organisation, Andrew Hogan.

The relationship between Chair and CEO is critical and I thank Murray Smith and Darrell Baker for their wisdom and support, as dedicated and values driven Presidents of the national organisation. Leadership is tough and we have weathered some extremely challenging times together, not least the pandemic.

I want to conclude by paying tribute to all our members. Optometry attracts people who want to make a difference to the lives of those they serve. Despite a relatively conservative culture, there is an openness to change and innovation that will ensure that optometry doesn’t stand still and will thrive. It’s been such a pleasure to work with you all and, along with the national team and board, provide a platform for your individual and the profession’s continued success.

A fond farewell and many thanks for allowing me to be part of the optometry world.

Lyn Brodie has been National Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Australia since July 2017. She will step down from the role in October 2022.