Australian war hero Corporal Mark Donaldson VC shared some pertinent messages with the business community at a recent ETC BusinessLeaders lunch.
As the first Australian in 40 years to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military award, Corporal Donaldson was both humble and grounded about his extraordinary achievements.
“I would still be doing what I do regardless of whether or not I got that award. For me, it comes down to humility, integrity, transparency and about having a passion. You have to love what you do, want to know more about it and get better at it,” Corporal Donaldson said.
Training has naturally been integral to his survival on the battlefield and career progression in the military.
“Training is invaluable. We need to train and we need to train smart. In days gone by we would train for training sake. Now you have to test everything you do. It if doesn’t work, tweak it. There’s no point training the same way if it’s not having success,” Corporal Donaldson said.
“Training for me, that’s when people become who they are. It’s not so much about on the day they have to perform, it’s the lead up to that.
“If an individual or a team can get satisfaction out of what they do because they’re at their peak performance, regardless of what field they’re in, then that’s a great achievement and they should be proud of that.”
He emphasised the importance of planning and recited one of his favourite quotes about ‘half a plan early is better than a complete plan too late.’
“Having a plan is vital. However, you can’t just leave it at that. It needs to be robust. You need to know how to get there and why you’re doing it,” he said.
The 2010 Young Australian of the Year said his role within the military had changed since being awarded the Victoria Cross.
“This year I have been involved in training the new guys coming through (Special Air Services Regiment) and having a direct influence into the way they think and behave. If I can have an influence, in some shape and form, into them being better than I was when I started then I’ve left a lasting legacy.”
His final message was about the importance of a good leader having strong communication skills and knowing how to empower their team.
“A good leader will know the strengths of each individual person in their team and know how they prefer to receive information,” Corporal Donaldson said.
“Think about what change you want to see in your organisation. How do you want it to be and what behaviours do you need to exude and breed within the organisation.”