Mental Health Education in the Workplace

#18 Building the influence of women – Susan Metcalf, CEO Chief Executive Women (s01ep18)

Sep 24, 2021

Susan Metcalf has had a career that expands both commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. She is now crossing both sectors as the CEO for Chief Executive Women which is a not for profit that works with Australia’s big businesses to address gender imbalance in senior roles in their organisations. Susan shares her experiences across both sectors and discusses the females that she feels have shown great leadership during the pandemic.
"I think that for many CEOs and those in senior leadership roles it can be really lonely. Having even one member of your team check in with you can be enormously beneficial."
- Susan Metcalf


  • Statistics of women in Non-Executive Director and Chair roles in ASX 200 companies
  • Great women leaders during the Covid crisis
  • Importance of asking R U OK?


Want to to reach out, share a great leader we should interview or learn more about The WeCARE Way, click here to contact us. 

Transcript from the interview

 The following transcript was generated using a specific tool. It serves as a convenient method for converting our podcasts into text and allows for easy text searches. However, we kindly ask for your understanding if any typos have inadvertently occurred as a result of the tool’s usage.


Graeme Cowan, Susan Metcalf

Graeme Cowan  00:00

Well, it’s a pleasure to welcome Susan Metcalf to the Caring CEO podcast today. Welcome, Susan. 

Susan Metcalf  00:12

Thank you great pleasure to be here. 

Graeme Cowan  00:15

What does care in the workplace mean to you Susan?

Susan Metcalf  00:20

Care in the workplace for me is about being aware of your people, knowing them as people, and being really thoughtful about bringing company and personal objectives together. So it’s it’s not about putting aside your company objectives. It’s not about not performing as a team. It’s about thinking about the individuals thinking about the human face of your workplace, and thinking about what you need to achieve together. And how do you do that on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis? What sort of things do you do to help make that happen? On a personal basis, I check in with my team several times a week, and particularly in this COVID environment, we have deliberately set up a couple of team check ins each week. And those are purely social. They’re not for work. That’s how are you? Are you doing okay? What are you thinking about feeling? What’s challenging you? What did you do on the weekend? anybody watching any great series. So it’s just about knowing each other on a human level. And interestingly, in this COVID time, I think we’ve probably found out more about each other, because we are in each other’s homes every day through Zoom, or Teams or WebEx, whatever it might be. And people’s cats wander by dogs during the picture, or somebody’s child’s crying in the background. That’s just fine. That’s life. 

Graeme Cowan  01:35

Yeah, it is true, isn’t it? Like we see some expected things, but also some very unexpected things, you know, we were into each other’s kitchen or workshop or office or whatever. And, yeah, it does really help to expand, you know that, that knowledge of each other. For the purpose of our listeners, Susan, you’ve had a really interesting career, could you just give a brief overview of how you got to be where you are now.

Susan Metcalf  01:59

Thank you Graeme. In my current role, I bring together a commercial and not for profit background. So as CEO and Chief Executive Women were not for profit organization, but we work with some of Australia’s biggest businesses to think about gender balance in their organizations, we are all about the progression of women and gender equity through those organizations. So I come to the role with both a commercial and not for profit background. Way back, I grew up in country, New South Wales, like many country kids came to the city for work, I worked full time while I went to uni part time. And during that time, I guess my career really over, took my studies, I was doing more at uni, and took me quite a while doing it part time. But at the same time, I was working pretty hard. And that meant that my career accelerated through the marketing ranks at Westfield, at McDonald’s and Disney. And over time, as I thought about what our family priorities would be, I stepped back from a work place when my children were young. And so we made a family decision about that’s how we were going to manage life when when the boys were young. And I really valued that time with them. But I also valued the opportunity to continue my career by working part time and working in a consulting role to various organizations. And that’s when I got involved in not for profit organisations in a pretty substantial way. I ended up working with the Smith Family and then later social ventures, Australia, which is a really innovative organization in the social sector and thinks about change at quite a systemic strategic level. And from the came to Chief Executive Women with both that not for profit and commercial backgrounds, you’ve had some, you know, really interesting involvement with those different types of organization like Disney, for example, has a reputation of really big on customer experience and that side of things, how did you find them to work with? Certainly really well to work at Disney, I felt strongly about the product. It’s fantastic. Some of the things that Disney does, and at other places I’ve worked to, but probably more than most at Disney, you get to work on projects that you just don’t work on anywhere else because of who that company is and the opportunities that you have there. 

Graeme Cowan  04:02

Hmm, yeah. And likewise, McDonald’s has been incredibly Successful men very successful, because, in many ways, because they train people very well. And often really young people, you know, 14 to 16 year olds in the, in the stores, and I actually know a colleague who work with Volkswagen, and then just went recently to McDonald’s. The thing that surprised him the most was that most of the executive team actually came through the stores and learned, you know, learned the craft, you know, flipping hamburgers. I thought that was quite extraordinary. But they are very, very good at training young people, aren’t they? And did you get any insight into how they do that, how they go about that?

Susan Metcalf  04:40

McDonald’s is fairly, is a very organized place, and they certainly do have well established systems and processes in place. And that does mean that young people like that get tremendous opportunities, you might not necessarily come out of a traditional academic background. But if you can get into a McDonald’s, and it suits you to work in the systems and the ways that they have, you are strongly supported by systems. And as a consequence, you may have opportunities that you don’t have anywhere else.

Graeme Cowan  05:06

You mentioned that, you know, in your current role now that you’ve been able to combine the background of non for profit, as well as in the commercial sector, what did you learn from the not for profit sector, which is really helpful in your role now?

Susan Metcalf  06:26

Not for profit roles are really challenging. And I think for many people coming out of the commercial world, it can be quite an eye opener to go into the not for profit world. And suddenly, your success can’t be measured in black and white, you’re not just running down the balance sheet and seeing what’s at the bottom of your P&L. Because the measures of success are much more about long term outcomes. You’re dealing with people, their health, their well being and the things that they want to achieve in their community, with their community for their community. And those are not things that can be measured on a spreadsheet a lot of the time. So you learn to think very strategically, you learn to think very long term. And you learn to live with a lot of ambiguity. And those are really often very challenging for people that come out of the for profit world, where it’s much easier to see how you’re performing by your share price. And, and you have a lot more resources and structure than you may have in the not for profit world.

Graeme Cowan  07:36

Yeah, yeah. Interestingly, about a couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Louise Baxter, who’s the CEO of the Starlight Foundation, and also happens to be a work colleague from the old days, Johnson & Johnson. But she is an interesting term, it’s, you know, she considers starlight to be a profit for purpose Foundation, which I thought was a nice way to term it that any surpluses went into increasing the reach and impact to the organization. I thought that was a nice slant on it.

Susan Metcalf  08:06

It something the not for profit sector struggles with what should they call themselves? How should they name themselves because it is all about purpose. And they, you can’t be ashamed of making some money to plow back into your purpose. Because there’s a long standing saying in the nonprofit sector, it’s more money, more purpose, more money, more mission. And so if you do make a profit, or if you do secure funding from somewhere, then you have got more money to deliver your mission. So finding a way to make money to be a social enterprise to bring others on your cause. And put more money behind your mission is a really worthy objective in the sector.

Graeme Cowan  08:52

Yeah, so your membership base is made up of senior women, either CEOs or I guess, non executive directors. And I assume they’re across a spectrum as some in the public sector, some private sector, some not for profit, local government, what’s the sort of mix of your membership base?

Susan Metcalf  09:10

So Chief Executive Women has a long history in the executive fields, the organization’s 36 years old, it was set up by Barbara Cail and a number of other women like Ita Buttrose, like that, at the time, couldn’t look out on the corporate landscape and see each other because they were a very rare species. So they came together not only to support each other, but also to help bring more women through the pipeline of leadership. And so we have the executive roles are very deep in our DNA. But we also recognize that leadership across the community comes in many different organizations and different roles. So today, we do  still have very strong representation in executive roles. We are called Chief Executive Women. We do have good representation amongst non executive directors across academia across the nonprofit sector, across government, across sports organizations. So we think about that leadership quite wide, quite broadly across the community.

Graeme Cowan  10:18

And other needs or similar across, you know, those segments that you’re talking about, where’s the differences depending on where they are?

Susan Metcalf  10:29

I’d love to say to you, there’s some shining lights out there in some sectors where women are doing extraordinarily well, in even numbers, actually, in government, have committed to targets and to gender, probably more deeply than some other sectors. So you do see in some, in some parts of government, you see greater representation of women are more even representation of women. CW does senior executive census every year and this year, that’ll be out in September. And in that census, we have a look at the ASX 200. This year, we’ll have a look at ASX 300. And to see where women are in those senior leadership teams, and the pipeline of women leaders is just not strong in Australian companies, more than half of the ASX 200 do not have a woman in a profit and loss role that over time will lead to a CEO role.

Graeme Cowan  11:31

Wow. And do you have a view about what’s the root cause of that for the many contributors

Susan Metcalf  11:41

be great if it was one root cause. We can focus on that and get that done. There are many contributing factors and there is very long standing it and inherent bias in the system. There are challenges in Australia where 95% of parental leave is taken by women. There is a really strong need for senior men to role model flexibility. And things like taking parental care and care of themselves. Particularly, you know, through this COVID time there are so many men for the first time have been at home with their kids during the day and seeing what happens in households. And seen and been able to do things like pick up their kids from school for the first time ever. So at the moment, there’s a lot of men out there going, Wow, I never knew all this happened. Isn’t this fantastic? I can pick my kids up from school. And actually, maybe I do need to do a load of washing. And if we can keep that running into the future, when when life does return to some sort of post COVID, normal, new normal, then that will help normalize what it means to work flexibly and effectively take out one of the barriers that currently exists to women progressing.

Graeme Cowan  13:08

Yeah, I saw I think was about three or four weeks ago that the new CEO of KPMG Andrew, I can’t remember his surname, but he is one of his signature announcements was that every person, no primary or secondary, with 26 weeks of, you know, leave childcare leave. And I thought that must it’s a great development and hopefully something that other companies will emulate.

Susan Metcalf  13:36

That’s a great statement. And there are other companies out there doing similar things. And increasingly, you see young men wanting to take that time. So the more we can celebrate that and young men evidencing and exercising care, the better we’ll be as a community.

Graeme Cowan  13:54

Yeah, yeah. Just thinking about, you’ve been in a wide range of teams, given that you’ve worked in a whole lot of different sectors and some really, world class companies as well. What do you think are the foundations of having a high performing team?

Susan Metcalf  14:14

As a high performing team in different environments? I think it outside of subject matter expertise, I think you do have to think about those socio-emotional factors. You do have to get on with your team. You do need to like the people you work with. You do need to feel comfortable with the company purpose. So you can be a really strong subject matter expert. But if you’re not in a place that aligns with your own values, and you have had trust in the people around you, then you’re never going to be part of a high performing team.

Graeme Cowan  14:54

Yeah, absolutely. I saw that there was a report by Deloitte and I think it was last year or 2019, it was called the future work is human. And it was very interesting in that it divided careers up into three areas there, there was the hand career, you know, which is the drivers and bricklayers and all that sort of stuff, the head careers which accountants, lawyers, actuaries, that sort of thing. And then the heart careers, and that’s careers entirely around collaboration of working with other people and doing it successfully. And all the growth going forward is shown to be in that heart career area, which is about no one can know it all themselves, they’ve got to be able to work well, in a team. And I think that, typically, and I know you can’t make an absolute statement, but typically women are much better at sensing what goes on in the team and whether people are engaged or not engaged, and in most cases, I think are better than, than me and at collaborating. And when I was in recruitment, I was 15 years old, his rule of thumb that anything a man talked about in his achievement I’d notch it down 25%. And  anything a woman said, I’d notch it up 25% so how can women, I guess, be eligible for these roles, when they’re really this style of leadership is really needed.

Susan Metcalf  16:39

I would agree with you that we are at a time in life in the world where the leadership of women is crucial. We’ve seen through COVID, some of the most successful leaders, country leaders have been women. And I want to avoid generalizations to but they’re, you know, you look at somebody like Jacinda Ardern, who has been an extraordinary example of different leadership. She’s not a traditional Prime Minister by any means. And she’s been wildly successful. Her stuff again, you look at somebody like Jacinda Ardern and she’s widely accepted his as having been very successful during this period, because she has shown some of those very human characteristics. Within Australian, you look at some of our female premiers who have done extraordinarily well in this period. So why why are those women more successful? Or why are they perceived as being successful in their roles there is certainly an element of of they are of the time, we are at such an extraordinary time where that care and compassion has been deeply needed. And the reassurance of those leaders that are able to bring that personal warmth to some very hard decisions has been very well received. Not sure that answered the question Graeme, but yeah.

Graeme Cowan  18:12

Yeah, yeah, it is. And, you know, I just think, as you say, a couple of the female premiers that, you know, have handled the crisis very, very well, just in terms of tapping into experts like not putting themselves forward as experts, and embracing others. And I think it’s also even on a global scale. It has shown that women Prime Ministers or Presidents handle the disaster much, much better than the match show, Donald Trump dictatorial style of, of leadership. And, you know, hopefully, that recognition really leads to more opportunities opening up.

Susan Metcalf  18:57

You’re asking before about what lessons you learn out of a not for profit sector. And I think one of the lessons that is very, it’s hard to learn when you first go to the not for profit sector, because you’re used to being in charge and you’re the leader, you’ve got to make the decisions and so on. The not for profit sector teaches you to listen, and to be led by what the participants in what you’re doing need by their needs and their wants and their desires. And to hack what you think until you’ve actually gathered quite a lot of input from a lot of other people. And perhaps it’s no coincidence that the not for profit sector is predominantly female in terms of ways. But those skills are absolutely required in the not for profit sector around and go to the dignity of the people that you’re working with. And so, if female leaders are bringing some of those skills in this time, of process, perhaps there’s a parallel there in some of the lessons.

Graeme Cowan  20:05

Yeah, absolutely. What about self care? You know, for our listeners, I’m just disclosing this now my wife Karen, and I are good friends with Susan and her husband Alistar. And I’d be really interested, do you do some interesting things around self care, Susan. So we might share with others, you know, how, how you keep your own tank full?

Susan Metcalf  20:30

Hmm, I’m not sure where you’re going to take me here Graeme. For listener purposes; so self care, I do believe strongly in self care. And I often play back to my team that self care is not selfish. And often as women, we find ourselves at the center of families and balancing work, family, life circumstances around us. And if you fall apart in those situations, then everything falls apart, not just you everything around you does. So self care is particularly I think, for working women, but vote for all of us in the center of our families enough Alliance, and self care is not selfish. So for me, it is about things like friends and family, it is about exercise. And for me, it’s also about doing something creative. So my personal commitment to myself is to do something creative, every weekend. And that might just be cooking a meal or cooking something different. It might be drawing, it might be could be anything. But I find that helps me enormously in terms of balance.

Graeme Cowan  21:43

Yeah, yeah, that’s a great example. So is this you just see that as a real, something you enjoy it’s a strength and this is a way to really play it out. Do you have the opportunity to do the creative stuff in your work now or is this just something completely unrelated to your professional life?

Susan Metcalf  22:03

So my professional life has often had a creative element to it. Growing up through marketing, you do do a lot of creative work. In my work, now, I am required to think creatively. And perhaps all of us have been required to think creatively in the last year as COVID has thrown all sorts of challenges at us. But my commitment to myself on those weekends use an unrelated to work kind of thing it might be it might be cooking is a really good example, I often cook something interesting or different and the just the process of thinking about that thinking about what I need, stepping through the process. And having a lovely outcome that I can share with friends and family at the end of it is for me quite fulfilling.

Graeme Cowan  22:46

Yeah wonderful and what I was actually thinking about when I’m thinking self care was, you know, your enjoyment of swimming. And in particular, about that really interesting holiday you went on in Greece, where you swam. What, how that worked for people who may not have heard before.

Susan Metcalf  23:05

Yes, so we do enjoy exercise, and we do enjoy travel. So the opportunity came up to go to Greece and go on a swim trip. So rather than walk village to village, you actually swim place to place can be quite away, in a bit of preparation for it. Being in the sea, swimming, great exercise, lovely weather, beautiful, clear water, interesting group of people. And at the end of the day, you can eat whatever you like.

Graeme Cowan  23:41

It’s great to earn that right isn’t it to eat whatever you like. And I also have a ritual every Sunday morning where I meet with Susan’s husband, Allister and another friend, Bernie. And we used to meet at Curl Curl and run down to Manly, come back and have breakfast. But with COVID, we’re having to find some other locations. But it is a really, really lovely thing to look forward to each weekend, you know, to be outside in a beautiful environment, and finish it off with a big breakfast is a very, very good element as well. It really is.

Susan Metcalf  24:21

And I think that observation, Graeme about being out in nature is a really important one. For me, diving into the sea swimming is really fulfilling and sensory. And similarly, you’re out walking in nature. And we have extraordinary opportunities around us with just to make ourselves get out and do it. Because the time that you invest in those things pays off in spades more than much, much more than the time it takes.

Graeme Cowan  24:50

Yes. And it’s interesting the impact the COVID has had I’ve got a as you know, we’re going to walk right beside our area in the bush and I reckon this 10 times the number of people in the moment, there’s families out, there’s our there’s just so many more people. And that’s got to be a good thing as well.

Susan Metcalf  25:09

It does. I’ve had a similar experience this morning, I was out walking in our neighborhood this morning, there are all these people come from.

Graeme Cowan  25:18

In terms of the lessons you’ve learned along the way, from leadership and good leadership, who have you learned from and really benefit from watching them, and seeing how they do it?

Susan Metcalf  25:36

I think I’ve had the benefit of some very strong leaders around me, I’ve had the benefit of some leaders that I wouldn’t want to emulate. And so, for me, it’s about taking the best from different people, or taking the pieces that work for me, rather than the best pieces that work for me. And that hasn’t always been from the highest profile, loudest person out the front. Sometimes it’s been from the person working alongside me. And sometimes it’s been from the person working for me. So I think that while I want to cite your one specific example, I would say it’s about finding what’s right for you, and trying some of those things, not being afraid to try something different and continuing to learn. And no matter how senior you are, or how long you’ve been doing your role, or how much of a subject matter expert you are, there is always somebody out there you can learn from.

Graeme Cowan  26:36

Yeah, and it’s interesting, what you say about, you know, some humble people. And I would say that, if there’s one universal quality of the people that I’ve been interviewing for this podcast series, it would be humility. And you know, take, for example, Mike Schneider, who’s the CEO of Bunnings, he has his four H’s of leadership, and that’s honest, humble, helpful and happy. So he actually has it as a defining point of his DNA. I’ve also been lucky enough to interview Pat Grier, former CEO of Ramsey healthcare very, very successful. And he talks about leading from behind, he doesn’t describe himself as a rah rah person, but leaving behind and maybe it is that, you know, you mentioned the example of Jacinda Ardern, that, you know, this this style is getting greater priority is I think it really needs to.

Susan Metcalf  27:39

It’s an interesting question. And it’s something that I think about quite a lot in my role about when do I leave from the front and lead from behind. And most of the time I leave from behind most of the time, it’s about influence. It’s about thinking about what needs to be achieved. It’s about how are we going to get there? What are the pieces we need to have in place? Who needs to be in this rather than rather than working? I’ve really, really worked from a command and control structure. 

Graeme Cowan  28:08

Yeah. Can you think of a time when you’ve had to ask someone the workplace, are you okay?

Susan Metcalf  28:18

Good question. And particularly in this COVID environment, and actually, that’s happened this week, when I was on a call with a team member who was clearly not okay. And having asked that question, a whole lot of information came forth. And we collectively made a decision that she take a few days off, just stop, just stop, turn everything off, just stop deal with the things that you need to deal with. Think about life. We’ll see you next week.

Graeme Cowan  28:48

Yeah, yes. It’s great. And actually one of the I mentioned, Bernie previously, who joins Allister and I on Sunday. And he has, you know, he’s worked with software developers in Australia and over in the Philippines, and they have a 10 minute stand up each day. And the first question is, are you okay? And if people aren’t for they don’t go beyond that, you know, they work out, you know, what’s the issues and people brainstorm ideas. So, no, there has been, I think, a really important element of how work has changed in this very challenging time. Can you think of a time when someone asked you, Are you okay? And it made a real difference?

Susan Metcalf  29:33

I’m fortunate that my team ask that every now and then. And you know what difference and I guess that’s just reassuring to know that they’re connected. Yeah. That they’re sort of aware.

Graeme Cowan  29:49

Yeah, yeah. 

Susan Metcalf  29:50

Yeah. What’s going on? 

Graeme Cowan  29:51

Yeah, I remember. Speaking to Damien Mu, who’s, he’s the CEO of AIA Australian insurance company, and I was interviewing him for a video for you. Okay. And he basically said that, you know, it’s really nice when people remember to ask me am I okay? because, you know, there’s lots of things that I have on my plate. And it’s just lovely to see that people are aware and think that it’s important enough to, to ask that question. So we’re here. Yeah,

Susan Metcalf  30:27

I think that, for many CEOs, particularly in big organizations that are particularly challenged at the moment, those CEO roles can be really lonely, those senior leadership roles can be really lonely. So to have,  somebody else just check in with you can be, I would  think could be enormously beneficial to you. It actually just brings me to one of the really special features around our organization Chief Executive Women. Because women are in those senior roles are still relatively rare. It’s one of the big benefits of the organization that if something is happening to a particular woman, or members see something happening, there’s a lot of reach out to her. Yeah, people, people just connect and say, you might want to talk to me, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Happy to have a coffee with you, or can I help you with that? And that, that the power of just having somebody else who’s been through that experience, just reach out to you, I think can be, to your point can really make a difference.

Graeme Cowan  31:32

Yeah. And I’ve I’ve just also interviewed on the podcast, Marcus Blackmore, you know, former CEO and chairman of Blackmores. And he was Christine Holgate, previous boss before she went to AusPost. And, and, in fact, he encouraged her to go for that position. Because he felt that, you know, she reached a great stage with Blackmores, she really substantially increased their sales and impact into China in particular. And when that scenario happened, where, you know, she was essentially sat, and then they had to go before the the senate inquiry, you know, he flew down to Canberra to be with her, or to not to be with her, but to be in the crowd and to support her. And I thought that was just amazing leadership on his behalf to do that, and to say publicly that, you know, she was a fantastic operator. So it’s nice, when you see that, that sort of support when things go really badly and, you know, in, are you okay, we say, you know, your close friends, whether it’s work colleagues, or what are your scaffolding, and when things go wrong, you need those people around you to stay in good shape.

Susan Metcalf  33:12

It’s unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s very easy to pile on to something that’s happening, and forget about the human dimension of it, regardless of the ins and outs of whatever has happened. However it’s happened, there is still a person at the center of those crisis. And they know they need to come out of that hole, I need to come out of it as as a person, as somebody who’s living, operating, breathing and hopefully able to go on and do other things.

Graeme Cowan  33:42

And in terms of books, or videos or movies, or has there been any particular books that have you found very helpful to shape the way that you lead in your role?

Susan Metcalf  34:00

One book that I often go back to is Carol Dweck’s mindsets book about positive mindsets and going into any situation, I think we can learn here, what what’s what’s up, what can I learn rather than feeling like you’re at the center of attention and the pressures all on you that I find that mindset to actually go into it with a curious mind to be mindful, to be a very helpful reference point to change how you can think about a topic or a subject.

Graeme Cowan  34:36

Yeah, I love it, and it matches incredibly well with, you know, some of the research latest research in books like the culture code by Daniel Coyle. In research by Google, we found that most successful teams, and Harvard also, most successful teams, those where they have high psychological safety, and what that means is that people feel safe to take risks. And know that if it doesn’t work out, we say, Well, what can we learn from this? What can we learn from this and take forward? And it is an incredibly, that growth mindset about the key you can continually evolve and keep going, I think is just a really great thing to think about.

Susan Metcalf  35:23

particularly at the moment, I think when there is so much ambiguity and uncertainty out there, you have to you have to think what can I learn here? How do I bring some sense to this? How do I how do I learn about this? How do I grow through this? Another book that I find quite useful, too, is because I think coming out of a marketing and create an area that has some creativity to it. Another book that I found very helpful is Daniel Cannon’s ‘Fast and Slow Thinking.’

Graeme Cowan  35:52

Yeah, yeah, what what were the main things for you?

Susan Metcalf  35:56

Or it talks about? I trust my intuition, but it talks about what are the dangers in trusting your intuition and making sure that actually some of your slower thinking skills might actually be what you need to rely on in the context of your, because we all make quick decisions, snap decisions, and to actually understand what’s going on when you do that. And to know the moments when you actually need to test that, rather than accept it helps you think about your own biases, your own conclusions that you might jump to. And some of those will be right. But sometimes, actually, you’ve got to reflect on those. And maybe I need to think about that, again.

Graeme Cowan  36:35

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the study by Dunning Kruger, if me with the Dunning Kruger, it’s basically, it’s very interesting, really, to Google it. But essentially, these two researchers found out that people that knew the lowest amount about something always overestimated their ability like that the bottom 10% in driving capacity rated themselves in the top 70% sort of thing. And it’s a term which really was googled a lot during the whole Trump era, for example, you know, because he was someone who prided himself for not reading anything. And speaking from his gut and this sort of thing. And but, you know, this study has been shown to be 100% true. And, you know, what you described before, is a curiosity approach to anything. That’s what they’re talking about there is that, you know, we’re best equipped if we do have that approach, no matter even if we’re regarded a, you know, world expert on something that you continually have that curiosity approach, that, of course, is a key part of academia, which, you know, Karen’s very much part of, you’ve got to have a thesis, you got to, you know, prove that thesis will disprove that thesis. And, you know, if it’s disproved, that’s a, that should be seen as a victory as well. If you had the opportunity to have a dinner, and learn something from someone who’s alive or dead, anyone, but you had a chance to have a dinner party with one or two or three people and you won’t come to mind?

Susan Metcalf  38:18

I find this a hard question. There are so many people out there doing interesting, fabulous things in and there are so many people that I would like to thank for what they’re doing. So you know, in particularly in this COVID instance, in I live in New South Wales, so, you know, I’d really like to be able to thank Kerry Chen, for what she’s doing.

Graeme Cowan  38:38

Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing, isn’t it? You know, it’s different every single day, every single day,

Susan Metcalf  38:47

Lots of resilience and real commitment and purpose to what she’s doing.

Graeme Cowan  38:54

Yeah, very much so.

Susan Metcalf  38:55

I think, I think the other day when she had instances where the glasses going askew, and everybody was jumping in saying, isn’t that ridiculous? And she stood up and said, Just focus on what’s important. on you, you know, who you are, you know, announcing all the COVID numbers on what’s being done and so on. And people worry about glasses.

Graeme Cowan  39:19

And Susan is there anything relevant about care and performance and in teams that you think is important, but we haven’t discussed yet?

Susan Metcalf  39:35

No, I think we’ve covered a fair bit of ground ground Graeme, I think for me as a leader care is integral to what I do. So, you know, to, I find that question too, you know, that I find the prospect of separating care from who you are and what you do to be quite alien.

Graeme Cowan  39:59

Yeah. Yeah,

Susan Metcalf  40:01

I don’t, I couldn’t perform without it, I don’t think and I, I don’t think my team could could could perform without some level of care amongst one another. And for one another.

Graeme Cowan  40:16

Yeah, I had a webinar this morning, and I asked people to reflect on their highest performing team, and, you know, a great team they’ve been part of, and they had a whole bunch of things there, you know, strong vision, complementary strengths, have been there, had each other’s back. And that scored 80%, like a choose through that scored 80%. And the next highest one after that was actually feel safe. That was like 40%. So just shows, you know how much we need to have a sense of belonging to really perform well, it really, really brings, brings it home. And it’s fascinating, being able to just sort of tap into the audience and see the things that are really important to them. And also the things that people are really struggling with, I’ve done 143 webinars in the last 13 months and ask people what’s been most challenging. Always, number one is uncertainty. Every single time it’s uncertainty, and I think it is that it’s just that volatility changes. And that even if we’re, you know, like, Tasmania, and free knees at the moment, they still can’t go and see their, you know, friends or colleagues or whatever it’s just been, has been quite extraordinary.

Susan Metcalf  41:37

Creatures. Sorry Graeme, I was just gonna say we are creatures of habit. So you know, dealing with that ambiguity and uncertainty is difficult for us. We’re taught to you do this, you do that? And you get to that answer. Yeah, the world at the moment, the world just doesn’t work like that.

Graeme Cowan  41:51

It doesn’t, it really doesn’t. So knowing what you know, now, the citizen. And if you could go back and talk to the 17 year old who just graduated from a country High School, what was the school that you’re at?

Susan Metcalf  42:07

Forbes High for most of my education, although I did do a year overseas as an exchange student, and I did do a little bit of time in a boarding school as well. 

Graeme Cowan  42:15

Right? We’ll say Forbes High, you’re coming out, right? 17 or 18 years old? What advice would you give yourself in knowing what you know, now?

Susan Metcalf  42:25

I think I would say Give yourself a break. Give yourself a break. And that’s something that I say to my teams quite a lot. Actually, don’t be so hard on yourself, give yourself a break, you know, your expectations of yourself will be higher than anyone elses. So, you know, sometimes you need to step back and give yourself a break. Yeah. acknowledge what you’ve done, you know, acknowledge your wins, learn to learn to celebrate your own wins. Right.

Graeme Cowan  42:54

Yeah, a lot of my interviewees say something in the same effect as that is, you know, it’s gonna be an unexpected wild ride at times, but, you know, hang in there. And I guess it’s also showing self care and self compassion, isn’t it?

Susan Metcalf  43:12

You’ve got to look after yourself. I think that’s something you learn to be better at. And maybe once you get over your worldviews, you’re better at that.

Graeme Cowan  43:21

Well, it’s been an absolute pleasure catching up today, Susan, talking professionally. And I would say though, I also look forward to seeing your husband Allister on Sunday morning for our usual catch up. It’s been great to have you on the show.


chat icon

Oh, you are inquisitive… getting all the way to the bottom of the page!

Thanks for listening 🙂


From all of us at The Caring CEO, and the WeCARE team, keep listening, keep caring and lead with your heart.


P.S. If you want to reach out, share a great leader we should interview or learn more about The WeCARE Way, click here to contact us. 


0/5 (0 Reviews)