Leading Teams in Changing Times with Ashley Fell

Friday, February 02, 2018

Leadership. There must be thousands of blogs, articles and books written about it. It's certainly front of mind for almost anyone who works in a team.

However, being an effective leader today is implicated by the inter-generational workplaces that are emerging. Where Baby Boomers and Gen Zeds, who have different expectations, learning habits and communication styles, collide.

Our research shows that the ideal manager is one who values communication and creates an environment of transparency and respect for staff.

Particularly for the emerging generations, their preferred leadership style is one that is more consensus than command, more participative than autocratic, and more flexible and organic than structured and hierarchical.

Here are 5 tips on how to lead people, your team or your organisation, so that people will follow.

1. Prioritise people

Leaders prioritise culture and build it within their organisation. By knowing your purpose (that is, what you do and why you exist) you can instil this into your team, and lead with a values-based vision.

2. Be collaborative

The best leaders intersect the differing levels of their organisation to make a cohesive and united team. While you might have senior leaders, managers and executives within an organisation, leaders bring these roles together to create alignment under the one vision.

3. Focus on the positives

Leaders focus on the positives, spread words of affirmation and celebrate the wins within their team. When things don’t go to plan, leaders initiate a culture of focusing on the positives, and using the negatives for improvement.

4. Shape the culture

Effective leaders shape a culture of participation, not isolation. Collaboration is key for 21st Century organisations, and by utilising the different skill sets and talents within a team, leaders will not only find more effective solutions and ideas but also bring out the potential in the members of their team.

5. Be proactive, not reactive

Leaders are proactive, not reactive. A proactive leader is one who sees opportunities or potential, and acts to make effective change, rather than waiting to respond. They are not victims of change but rather see the trends, shape a response and create the future.

So in a world of flat structures and consultative practices, it is leaders who coach and mentor rather than command and control, who understand and connect with their teams who will see people follow them.

Ashley Fell, Head of Communications at McCrindle

About Ashley Fell

Ashley Fell is a social researcher, TEDx speaker and Head of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst and media commentator, she understands how to effectively communicate across diverse audiences.

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms, content creation and event management, Ashley advises on how to achieve cut through in message-saturated times. She is an expert in how to communicate across generational barriers.

Download Ashley's professional speakers pack here. 

2016 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last Thursday, McCrindle Research and R2L&Associates were proud to present the Sydney Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 15 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions.


We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from the honourable Catherine Cusack MLC, Parliamentary secretary to the Premier of NSW, and Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Deputy Lord Mayor on behalf of our principal event sponsor, the City of Sydney.

SESSION 1 - introduction

Mark McCrindle opened Session 1 with an introduction to Australia's generational landscape and gave a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Mark provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, and that 1 in 4 give at least once a month.

McCrindle Team Leader of Analytics, Annie Phillips continued to share about the quantitative insights from the research, identifying the top 7 causes Australians support (Children's charities, medical research, animal welfare, disaster response in Australia, disability, homelessness and mental health), the 5 charity essentials and the top communication channels. Annie also provided an explanation of the Net Promotor Score (29) and Net Culture Score (21) for the sector, which were both very high.

Sophie Rention, Research Executive at McCrindle then communicated some of the key qualitative findings from the Australian Communities Trends Report. Sophie highlighted the key blockers (e.g. complex giving process) and enablers (e.g. personal connection) to charitable giving for Australians, as well as the next steps for charities including creating multi-tiered levels of engagement, community building, effective communication of results and fun and engaging experiences. 

We then heard from John Rose, principal at R2L&Associates about what this research means for community organisations and how they can best respond to the findings. In his insights and applications John reminded our delegates that in the midst of changes in the marketplace, trust and relevance is essential. John then presented 5 key issues for charities to keep in mind when engaging with the ever-changing supporter which included aligning, defining, communicating, engaging and leading.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


SESSION 2 - keynotes

After a networking break over morning tea Eliane Miles, Research Director at McCrindle shared an engaging keynote presentation on Leading teams and managing change in transformative times. In the post linear, post literate and post logical workforce, Eliane reminded us that to engage and inspire our workplaces we need to ensure a culture of contribution, challenge and celebration within our teams. To attract and retain, to lead and inspire, we need to cultivate authenticity. 

Our next keynote, Josh Hawkins emphasised the importance of creativity in social media and marketing campaigns. Josh showed us that creative and fun campaigns are the ones that get cut through. Josh also inspired us to be authentic with our marketing and leadership to under 30's. Through humour, engaging videos and key takeaways, Josh's presentation reminded us that when you "Give someone a task you'll get what you ask for". But when you "Give them a vision you'll get more than you could ever ask for". 

Our final keynote speaker before lunch was Ivan Motley, found of .id The Population Experts. Specialising in using data to inform decisions and shape the future, Ivan and his team talked us through how analytics can shape the quality of education, housing, health, the environment and education. Using some practical case studies, the id. team showed us why we should be using local data to understand our communities, and how information and data can help transform communities.

SESSION 3 - streams

Stream 1: Understanding Australian Communities

In this stream Geoff Brailey, Research Executive at McCrindle began by giving an overview of the next generation of volunteers and donors, and tips on how to engage and motivate them. This was followed by Nic Bolto who encouraged us to do the hard work as leaders and how to effectively implement insights in organisations. Our last stream speaker for this session was James Ward, a Director at NBRS Architecture who showed us, through a case study, how understanding spaces and building communities can help to improve people's lives.

Stream 2: Engaging Australian Communities

In Stream 2, McCrindle Team Leader of Communications Ashley McKenzie began this session by giving practical tips and insights on how to communicate complex data in message saturated times. Following on was Salvation Army officer Bryce Davies who shared how The Salvation Army build community in areas of social challenge by creating communities focused on respect, encouragement and belonging. Our final stream 2 speaker Greg Low, co-founder of R2L&Associates gave us five essentials to make your next marketing or fundraising campaign thrive.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Caitlin Barrett from Love Mercy and Andy Gourley from Red Frogs. 

Caitlin Barrett, CEO of the Love Mercy Foundation kicked off our afternoon session by telling us the engaging story of how Love Mercy was founded after Australian Olympian met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier Julius Achon. After sharing the vision and mission of Love Mercy, Caitlin shared how they engage the community through telling personal stories, the importance of finding the right audience for the right story and telling the right details to provide an experience.  

Our last speaker for the day was Andy Gourley, founder and director of Red Frogs Australia. After having founded Red Frogs in 1997, Red Frogs is now the largest support network in Australia for Schoolies, festivals and universities. Through the use of engaging stories and hard-hitting realities, Andy effectively communicated how Red Frogs was founded and the crucial role they play in safeguarding vulnerable young people at events like Schoolies and festivals.  

We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2016 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our sponsors, The City of Sydney, Pro Bono Australia, Hope 103.2 and ConnectingUp as well for your support in making this event happen.

Creating a culture of wellbeing: Leading in times of Change

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

That our world is changing and shifting is not surprising – it’s the key definer of our times. On the one hand the centripetal force of change can push us towards constant innovation. We can be invigorated by the newness around us, so that our means of communication, the way we work and the spaces in which we engage are ever-evolving.

On the other, the speed and scale of change can leave us feeling overwhelmed as we work out how to navigate and juggle complex personal and professional demands.

As leaders, we often find ourselves leading teams of individuals immersed in the rapid uptake of change. Our teams respond to this change in different ways – some with a type of change fatigue in which new initiatives are merged with the old, rather than looking to new horizons. Others respond with change apathy, checking out altogether.

 In these fast-moving times, how do we lead ourselves, our teams, and our organisations through times of change?

Leadership author John C Maxwell once said that in order to lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves. He also advised, “If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” Leadership begins by looking inward, rather than outward. It begins by taking a look at your personal values alignment, learning style, and wellness gauge.

  • Your values alignment: How do your personal passions and strengths align with the ethos and values of the organisation that you are a part of? Recognising areas where your personal passions align with your organisation’s passions will give a greater sense of energy and purpose to your work.
  • Your learning style: How do you learn, get inspired, and stay motivated? As leaders, it’s important to stay fresh by identifying sources of personal inspiration – it could be simple things like reading content that inspires, carving out down-time, or networking with leaders who are just that one step ahead of where you are.
  • Your wellness gauge: How are you tracking in terms of your energy levels and personal wellbeing? Busy lives leave little space for margin and it’s more important than ever before to carve out time to be adaptable and flexible. Manage your screen time and bring in more green time, watch your health and nutrition, and create some space for reflection and deep thinking.

The leadership styles that the new generations respond to are those that embody collaboration, authenticity, mutual understanding and empowerment. When it comes to building resilient teams, it’s not just about processes and policies, but about helping individuals thrive in complex and ever-changing business environments. Our research has identified several key drivers among young workers that motivate them towards engagement:

  • The drive for complexity and challenge: Today’s career-starters are full of innovative ideas towards problems and thrive on identifying solutions. Creating space for the cultivation of ideas and innovation is key not only for better organisational performance but strong employee engagement. When was the last time you gave your team permission to step up to the challenge of solving your most critical problem?
  • The drive for variability and flexibility: Empowering your team to take control of their workload provides them with the opportunity to structure their day towards their most productive times and builds greater levels of team trust. When team members are engaged with the vision and have the skills they need to drive the team forward, hands-off management is always better than micro-management.
  • The drive for community and belonging: In an era where movement is a constant and flux is inevitable, workplace communities have become 21st century families. Establishing a team culture where individuals themselves are celebrated (not just their work-related wins) is critical to developing work-place tribes.

Organisational change is up to all of us, and moving ahead as an organisation involves directing individuals at all levels into forward horizons by leveraging the team’s combined power for innovation. We each lead by example by creating the initiatives and by driving the culture.

In our work with hundreds of organisations across Australia, we have identified several consistent characteristics evident within organisations that have thrived in times of change. These include:

  • Organisations who scan the external horizon. By understanding the current demographic, economic, social, and technological environment, leadership teams are able to make robust and solid decisions that guide their organisation towards its future. While the future can seem uncertain, getting a grasp on the current environment adds confidence to the decision-making process that is needed to stir a ship in a new direction.
  • Organisations who commit to being the ‘only ones’ at what they do. We consistently watch organisations position themselves alongside their competitors to understand what the market is offering. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘keeping up’ that we lose track of the unique abilities that only our teams can bring. Look inside at who is on your team before looking outward to what you can bring. Commit to carving out a niche that is true to who you are, not what your competitors are offering.
  • Organisations who put their people first. Organisational leadership is at its best when people are the priority. There are countless ways to create value for individuals within your teams (50 Best Places to Work 2016 features just some of them!), and when people thrive, not only is there lower turnover and a larger applicant base, but client relationships are at their peak, there is better innovation, greater productivity, and more sustained long-term business growth.

-Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle.

At the Australian Communities Forum 2016 on October 13th she will give an overview of each generation in the workforce and some analysis of their needs and expectations, as well as strategies to manage change, inspire innovation and create a collaborative and adaptive organisation.

Purchase your ticket here

A Snapshot of the Changes Transforming Real Estate

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Change. It’s happening all around us, and it’s easy to be intimidated by the scope and scale of it, but if we can observe the trends and the shifts, then we don’t have to become victims of change but rather we can proactively respond. That’s what’s key. Having the confidence to move forward strategically and proactively, to embrace the trends rather than hide from them.

Earlier this year Mark McCrindle presented Understanding the Times, Shaping the Trends: A Snapshot of the Changes Transforming Real Estate at the Real Estate Institute of Victoria National 2016 Conference. Here are some of his thoughts on trends shaping the Real Estate Industry.

How are generational differences impacting the REAL Estate industry?

Generationally, it is more important than ever to understand the six generations that we have in Australia. While the younger generations might not be active clients in terms of real estate vendors, they do influence parental purchasing and decisions a lot.

We can sometimes pre-qualify people based on our perception of where they’re at in their life stage, but actually there are a lot of people in their late 70’s who are still active in property, perhaps downsizing to buy their next place. Then you’ve got someone in their early 20’s who’s maybe not buying their own place, but perhaps looking at an expensive home because they will be living in that home with their parents. We have to understand the diversity of the generations and all of them may well be active influencers in the buying decision.

Do you have any recommendations on how the Real Estate industry can engage their community?

Sometimes the best connections are actual connections, not just personal ones. The events, the openings, the events where we invite the community along and talk about the area and what’s happening. That brand experience, where people can come to meet and greet with free pizza or cocktails, that sort of thing is what works well, people are looking for that social interaction.

Any tips for those working in real estate?

Well I’d sum it up with the 4 R’s of Real Estate in the 21st Century:


Keep it real and authentic


To adjust and adapt


Keep it relational in terms of how we connect


We can’t just rely on yesterday’s wins, we have to adjust and adapt to remain responsive to the needs of today


Mark is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations.

Mark’s understanding of the key social trends as well as his engaging communication style places him in high demand in the press, on radio and on television shows, such as Sunrise, Today, The Morning Show, ABC News 24 and A Current Affair.

His research firm counts amongst its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and his highly valued reports and infographics have developed his regard as a data scientist, demographer, futurist and social commentator.


Hornsby Shire Council [Case Study]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At McCrindle, our forecasts identify trends. Our strategy informs decisions. Our research future-proofs organisations. The social, generational, economic and demographic trends impacting local communities create not only new challenges but great opportunities. Unprecedented change can sometimes lead to change fatigue where the response can be to become worried about change, or equally it can lead to change apathy which can create an indifference to change. However, by understanding the emerging trends, we can be more prepared for the changes and so rather than becoming defensive or blasé we can respond to the shifts, influence the trends and shape the future.

We are engaged by some of the leading brands and organisations across Australia to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.

It is a privilege to see our research in action in the Hornsby Shire’s bench-marking report. This report has been designed to inform community members, councillors, staff and other government agencies about local issues for Hornsby Shire residents. The results of our research can be summarised in the following top 10 trends we identified across the Hornsby Shire. 

Top 10 trends for the Hornsby Shire

  1. Growing population, increasing densification
  2. Ageing population, transitioning generations
  3. Educational attainment, professional employment
  4. Entrepreneurship for small and home-based businesses
  5. Property ownership and investment growth
  6. Stable workforce, lower unemployment
  7. Mobile lifestyle enabled though public transport and cars
  8. A home for families and the next generations
  9. A place of cultural and language diversity
  10. The lifestyle shire

Read or download the report for the latest demographic and social trends insights affecting Hornsby Shire

About McCrindle Research Solutions

For great organisations, innovation is the oxygen of success. To innovate effectively, organisations need to understand the times and track the trends. Our market and social research services not only utilise the best research tools but ensure that the findings can be implemented by incorporating the most useful research output. Check our our Research Solutions pack to see how we can assist your organisation today.

McCrindle Research: Celebrating 10 Years, 2006 to 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

It was late August 2006, John Howard was Prime Minister, George W Bush was the US President, the Football World Cup had just wrapped up in Germany, Facebook had just been launched to the public, and McCrindle Research began operations in a newly opened area of Norwest Business Park in Sydney.

It was just a decade ago, but what a decade of change it has been. There was no iPhone, no tablet computers, Twitter was only just being developed, YouTube was just a year old and words like “apps”, “Wi-Fi” , “memes” and “selfies” meant nothing. In the year we began our research, “hashtag” was the rarely used character on the keyboard, “the cloud” was what could be seen in the sky, things “going viral” was an issue for public health and “tablets” were medications.

When we ran our first demographic analysis soon after we began, the 2006 Census had only just been held, and we were relying on the 2001 data which was based on the Australian population of 18.9 million compared to the 24.2 million of today.

McCrindle Research began with Mark McCrindle and a simple vision to “conduct world class research and communicate the insights in innovative ways”. Since those first days the research approach has grown from pen and paper surveys and focus groups to include online surveys, on-device surveys, data analytics, demographic and economic modelling and geomapping. True to the vision of engaging, visual output, the first person McCrindle Research employed was a designer, Mark Beard, who did an amazing job in the early months of developing a digital presence, and deploying research reports in visual forms and designing the data even before the genre of infographics existed.

Since then McCrindle has grown to be well regarded as one of the best research-based communications agencies and data designers in Australia with our research findings more likely to be presented via an event, interactive webpage, corporate keynote, infographic wall, pop-up banner, animated data video, visual report or media launch rather than just a written report.

It was in that first year that we designed “Australia’s Population Map” which has now been updated and reprinted dozens of times with hundreds of thousands in print. We love analysing numbers so here are some relating to our digital presence: we’ve had more than a third of a million YouTube views in addition to our Slideshare, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook presence, and almost a million blog and website visits. We analyse big data and create big data of our own with hundreds of research projects completed, involving thousands of focus group participants and hundreds of thousands of survey completions. 

So it has been a busy decade for us and a transformative one for our world. As we look at the decade ahead, one thing is sure: the speed of change will only increase, and we will continue to analyse the trends and effectively communicate the strategic implications to help organisations and leaders know the times.

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