Former Prime Minister The Honourable John Howard OM AC proved that he’s lost none of the qualities that helped him hold office for eleven years.
‘Strong’, ‘determined’ and ‘a true leader’ were just some of the terms used by delegates after former Prime Minister John Howard OM AC delivered his exceptional closing keynote address on the third day of the Convention.
Most of the audience in attendance had never had the opportunity to see Mr Howard in person, though many delegates reacted to his presence in a similar way. Many noted how the second longest serving Prime Minister looked and seemed exactly as they imagined: confident, poised and energetic.
These qualities were definitely witnessed in his address which covered topics from effective leadership to the public’s current perception of Australian business.
In a thoroughly engaging discussion, Mr Howard reflected on his own time in the top job, mentioning that in any leadership position you have to ‘accept that you are going to make your share of mistakes.’ What’s important, according to Mr Howard, is getting the big things right and more importantly, ‘trusting your instincts’.
Mr Howard talked about a time when he had to rely on his own instincts, defying polls and making decisions which were controversial or unpopular at the time. He reflected on legislating the GST as well as supporting America in Iraq, noting that ‘There are things that instinct tells you, you have to do.’
Through an entertaining anecdote, Mr Howard also highlighted the importance of understanding your audience – both in business and in other facets of life. He went on to recount an experience in Texas where in front of an audience of Americans from the south he listed national gun control laws as amongst his greatest achievements. Understandably, he received a mixed response and humbly, Mr Howard used this example to highlight the importance of knowing the audience you’re talking to.
In reference to the Australian automotive industry, Mr Howard commented that all dealerships, no matter their size, are united by their entrepreneurial endeavour. He congratulated dealership owners for believing in their own resourcefulness, commenting that Dealers have ‘survived and prospered… because of their own individual initiative’.
In reference to the future of Australian dealership prosperity, Mr Howard underscored the importance of the country’s relationship with its Asian counterparts – particularly China.
He also shed light on the pressure that the government receives from all kinds of industries and charities for support. He contended that industries who understand the government as well as the economics of the country will more likely be successful in obtaining government support.
No matter your political persuasion, there’s no denying Mr Howard’s strength of conviction and his shrewd approached to economics. Under the Howard Government Australia enjoyed continued economic growth averaging 3.6% per annum and by the end of his tenure, Australia was completely debt free.
In his address at the Convention, Mr Howard said ‘There is no relationship more important than the relationship between the leader and the immediately led’ – and considering the overall success of his party, there’s perhaps no one more qualified to make such a comment.
What the Dealers said:
“Brilliant. One of the best. No notes and extremely well delivered”
“Very grateful to the AADA for securing such an outstanding speaker. I felt privileged to be part of the audience.”
“Enjoyed the session. Very general but well worthwhile.”