People who are willing to think long-term challenge the status quo are those who ad most value to organisations, the head Queensland’s building regulator says.

In an online interview with Ineke McMahon, director of online carer development firm P2P Learning & Development Academy, Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) Commissioner Brett Bassett outlined several strategies which he says are important for career and leadership success.

Asked about what he looks for in those he seeks to hire and promote, Bassett says he wants long term thinkers who are willing to challenge the status-quo.

“I don’t want a yes person around me,” Bassett said.

“I believe in making sure that we have the right people. In my view, the right people are those who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. I’ve got a big belief that we want people who will change the status quo.”

“I like long term thinkers. I think somebody who makes a decision based on the now without thinking about how that decision is going to be considered in years to come is leaving themselves open for debate around ‘is that the right decision’.

“I want people who want my job. You want people who are driven. You want people who are focused.

“I want people who are not afraid to have a different view to me.”

During the discussion, Bassett outlined several areas which he saw as important to achieving career and leadership success.

These are:

  • Understanding yourself including strengths and weaknesses. Being a leader, Bassett said, requires understanding what you do well along with where you need work.
  • Having clear dreams and ambitions. This, Bassett says, is important in driving decisions and actions. In his own case, Bassett first realised that he wanted to be a CEO nine years ago when working for the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) as a Regional Commissioner and Senior Executive Leader. The idea of having the buck stop with him appealed to him. Knowing that to achieve this, he would need a ‘strategic win’ under his belt, Bassett asked to be put in charge of the most important strategic project which ASIC was undertaking at the time which involved a transition toward a user-based model of funding. Whilst this made him ‘scared beyond belief’, Bassett says the project ended up being one of the most important strategic projects ASIC has ever run and one which stood him in good stead to achieve his own ambition.
  • Being willing to challenge the status quo (as above) and provide open and honest feedback.
  • Setting challenging goals which force people to stretch and improve. Whilst goals should be achievable, Bassett says they should be set at a level that ensures tasks are executed in the best possible way.
  • Taking charge of your own career by deciding what you want to achieve, setting goals and acting. No one else will do this for you.
  • Understanding that you are the most important person. Within the QBCC. Bassett says many when asked who is most important nominate family members and loved ones. This, he says, is a fallacy. Whilst supporting others is important, Bassett says that to do this, you must be first happy, healthy and operating effectively yourself.
  • Surround yourself with the right people. At the QBCC, Bassett says each member of the senior leadership team is superior to he himself in the area in which they work. A leader’s role is not to be a technician but rather to get the right technical people together with the right data on which to base informed decisions.
  • Being authentic. When taking on his role at the QBCC, Bassett spent his first two days trying to be someone else after being told he would have to be ‘polished’. This made him exhausted. On the third day, he chose to be himself – a decision which freed him not only to be more effective but also to be authentic when dealing with others.
  • Doing leadership. Whilst Bassett says doing an MBA (which he completed at Edith Cowan University in 2015) has value from a theoretical viewpoint, this does not in itself provide practical leadership experience or prepare you for all challenges which you will confront on the job. Nothing teaches leadership as much as doing
  • Having the right mentors. In his case, Bassett has not had formal mentors of his own but has himself mentored to two others through a program run by the National Association of Women in Construction. The right mentor, he says, should not tell you what to do but rather help you to make decisions for yourself. As well, the mentor/mentee relationship must be based on trust, mutual respect and understanding.

Bassett’s comments come as P2P has delivered several masterclass sessions in which property sector leaders have shared strategies for success.

The company also runs eight-week personal development courses which focus on knowing and defining yourself, creating a ‘success profile’, crafting a career development plan, learning from mentors, raising your corporate profile and developing expertise.

In Bassett’s case, he was appointed as QBCC Commissioner in 2016 and reappointed last year. Prior to that, he served as Regional Commissioner (QLD) & Senior Executive Leader at ASIC and has held other roles including working at Deloitte and setting up his own forensic consulting practice.

Brett Bassett (image via QBCC)

Aside from the strategies referred to above, Bassett says it is important to be upfront and truthful when dealing with others.

At the QBCC, one of his early conversations with staff involved an out-front discussion about the (challenged) financial state of the organisation in which he laid out where the organisation stood financially – something which had not been fully explained previously. Whilst that time was challenging, the openness with which the challenges were shared helped the organisation to pull through.

“Tell the truth,” Bassett said, when asked how to build a reputation for trustworthiness.

“It sounds simple.

Always be honest. You will never get in trouble if you are honest.

“It’s easier to have an honest conversation than one where you are trying to back yourself out.”