Does being a woman influence your leadership style? We ask Katarina Carroll…

Over the course of 2018, IPAA Queensland explored the theme of ‘Inclusion and Diversity’. This theme carried through a range of forums and events for the year and placed a spotlight on current issues and trends around developing a public service that is reflective of the communities served. In May 2018, we sat down with Commissioner Katarina Carroll from Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) as part of our ‘On the Couch’ series. A question from the crowd asked the Commissioner about whether her gender has impacted her leadership style. Her response is below.

Question: As a woman in a leadership role, do you feel like there is anything you have had to do different or a different way that is easier to communicate to get your vision across?

Probably not. And the reason why I say that is I’ve always come through the ranks with my peers and been operational in my leadership approach.  As a result, I’ve always felt quite comfortable to mix in whether it be policing or now. So, I can’t think of a time where I’ve had to think, I’m a woman I’ve got to do it differently, because I’ve haven’t known it any other way.  I’ve always felt comfortable.

The people who I have worked with over the years who have come to know me really well, they take me how I am. It doesn’t really matter that I’m a female. Obviously early on in your career you have crusty old sergeants who tell you women shouldn’t be in the job, literally. I was in the Ravenson Police Station completing a university assignment in the early 90’s (because they were the only place that had computers!) and I had a colleague say to me “You know what? Woman like you, you’re just taking the job of good men and you’re going to destroy the economy.” So you have those people who have just different ways of viewing the world.

You just want to do your job and move on. I do think woman lead differently. I know that’s a whole different discussion, but I don’t think I’ve had to do anything different.

So – what is Katarina Carroll’s leadership style? We asked her during our ‘On the Couch’ session.

Question: Let’s go to your leadership style – How would you, you see it obviously as, that team work’s really vital?

It’s all about the team work.  It’s all about, obviously leadership, but about those relationships that you establish. Not just internally but externally across, you know, I think we had hundreds of stakeholders in this and that is ultimately what gets you through this. And not being afraid to implement something very very different. It’s interesting you’re talking about leadership, I know in the past, you know, if I’d gone to a boss and said, oh we’re going to do something so crazy you can’t even believe it. Because some of the things we came up with, the executive had to give us approval to do, they were very different. You know to change Command and Control just for one event is unheard of. But we had to because we had the evidence to say that it wasn’t going to work if we didn’t. We had an amazing executive, Ian Stewart, that listened to the evidence and the research and thought, well you know, we’ve got to go this way. We had, you know, a risk register with thousands of risks in it but every one of them was backed with evidence and good research as to why we had to take a certain path. So it’s an incredible journey with a very good team and obviously that’s really what gets you there in the end.

Want to learn more about gender diversity? Check out some great resources available from some of our valued partners here.

KPMG Report 
Queensland Government Flexible working policy

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IPAA Queensland is the professional association for people engaged in public purpose work. Our mission is simple. We promote and enhance the professionalism, capability and integrity of public administration and pride in public service.

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