Leading in leadership

UNSW Canberra Academics Involved: 
Professor Tom Frame AM

As the Director of the Public Leadership Research Group – Howard Library, Professor Tom Frame is based in Old Parliament House. The halls around him are thick with history, and of tales about the effects of good and bad leadership.

Fittingly, Frame’s work revolves around the dynamics of public leadership in terms of political processes and popular culture. How is it, for example, that national leaders are able to shape or reflect the consensus, then move the nation forward to reach its full potential, as so many disparate groups pull in different directions?

“Leadership has become more complicated, partly because of the nature of modern communications,” Frame says. “Anybody with a computer is essentially a global publisher. They can influence opinions and shape views in ways they previously couldn't.”

Frame is establishing the John Howard prime ministerial library at Old Parliament House, which engages with a range of stakeholders, including secondary school students.

“Tens of thousands of students will come through the Howard Library each year,” Frame says. “This is our chance to say to them, ‘Public leadership is complex and challenging, but it is a challenge worth rising to in terms of careers choices.’”

The Library also hosts conferences and public events for members of the ADF, people in government departments, community groups and members of the public.

“I'm personally trying to influence more young scholars to take up Australian politics as an area worthy of their time and talent because, at the moment, Australian political studies are in something of a doldrum,” he says. “If I can influence that personally, that will be my way of showing some public leadership.”