While facing any loss isn't pleasant, when you're a courageous leader you have to remember that how you react is important, because everyone who follows you is looking to you for guidance during the tough times. An example of what not to do as a leader facing defeat is the speech Bill Shorten (former opposition leader) gave to those in the Labor party's Canberra room after the shocking loss in the recent election.

Many are now calling Shorten "pathetic" for the way he "lashed out" and "blamed" a range of sources for his defeat, saying "the odds were stacked against him" because of outside parties. Instead of bowing out gracefully and encouragingly passing the leadership mantle to rally the party together, Shorten chose to go down the less-dignified route.

His speech started strong, saying, "I understand there are lessons to be learned from defeat". However, he went on to be less than gracious in defeat, as you can see in these quotes:

"We were up against corporate leviathans, a financial behemoth, spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling lies, spreading fear.

"Powerful vested interests campaigned against us. Through sections of the media itself, and they got what they wanted.

"I understand that neither of these challenges disappeared on election night. They're still out there for us to face. It is important we face them with courage and honesty, with principle, and unity."

Not exactly inspiring, right? Defeat often comes from our opponents being better at the game, and our shortcomings. Not doing your best, or doing your best and still losing, can be upsetting. If you let that anger affect you, then you're failing yourself and your team as a leader. Poor leaders lash out and turn their anger on those around them. They blame anyone and everyone but themselves for what went wrong instead of accepting the situation and learning from it. Bill Shorten demonstrated this in his speech.

In stark contrast, Labor's new leader Anthony Albanese's comments in response to being asked about Shorten's speech were much more characteristic of a great leader. He showed he can graciously handle defeat and inspire those around him to do better next time.

He said on the Today Show:

"We listened to the verdict of the people. The people always get it right. There's no point complaining about what happened on the field.

"When you look at the scoreboard at the end of the day, we were defeated. By about 77-68 [...] will be the final score."

Albanese did say that "there is no doubt that vested interests did play a role," but due to his previous comments accepting Labor's loss, this comment didn't come off anywhere near as severely as Shorten's. Shorten's comments were full of blaming and not taking responsibility. In contrast, Albanese preached unity, balance and reiterated that he believed in the talent of those in the Labor Party:

"We will be a united team. I've been elected unanimously by the Labor Party to lead. We had a leadership team. We have a gender balance. We have talent."

While Albanese wasn't leader at the election, he still stated that:

"I think the senior members, all of us, have to accept responsibility, that those many millions of Australians who rely upon us and the tens of thousands of people who have worked on our campaigns, need us to do better next time. And today, we resolve to do just that."

Which comments would you rather hear from your leader after a defeat? I know that I'd rather Albanese lead myself and our team during the aftermath of a loss. His comments embody some of the essential parts of successful and effective leadership to overcome the disappointment of defeat:

  • Acknowledge the loss, instead of making excuses or passing blame
  • Don't stop learning and growing, even during hard times
  • Encourage yourself and those around you, while being realistic, but not cynical.
  • Learn from what happened, whether you won or lost

If you're more of a Shorten than an Albanese, maybe it's time to reassess how you respond to defeat. Are you a sore loser who blames others and makes excuses? It's never too late to start learning and changing, and that's what great leaders do.

What do you think about Shorten's comments? Do you think Albanese will be able to lead Labor to success in the future? Let me know your thoughts!

Speech Image Credit - ABC News

About Sonia

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organizations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realize what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognized as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognized for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Keynote Topics

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humor will enhance any event she appears.

  1. Leadership Attitude
  2. Just Rock It
  3. Leadership for Small Business
  4. Leading the Next Generations
  5. Courageous Leadership
  6. Future Leaders of Leadership
  7. New Kindness of Leadership

Phone 1300 719 665 or +61 424 447 616



leadership course
leadership course free trial online
leadership course harvard business school
leadership courses for managers
basic leadership course
leadership crash course
online leadership course
leadership courses melbourne
leadership courses sydney
management and leadership course online free trial
leadership skills online course free trial
strategic leadership free online course trial
leadership development programs harvard business school
organizational leadership course
strategic leadership course
leadership training courses for managers
leadership courses for new managers
leadership courses for project managers
leadership courses for middle managers
leadership courses for senior managers
best leadership courses for managers
leadership development program for managers
leadership training program for managers
leadership program for new managers
leadership reaction course events
leadership reaction course manual
leadership reaction course army
leadership reaction course ideas
leadership reaction course answers
leadership reaction course solutions
leadership reaction course ocs
leadership reaction course usmc
basic leadership course requirements
basic leadership course reflective essay
online leadership courses
online leadership courses queensland
online leadership courses free trial
online leadership courses with certificate
online leadership courses for high school students
online leadership courses australia
leadership and management courses online free
leadership training videos online free
free leadership courses online australia
harvard online leadership courses free
free nursing leadership courses online
free online leadership courses for high school students
leadership courses melbourne online
leadership courses melbourne
leadership training melbourne
leadership programs melbourne
womens leadership courses melbourne
womens leadership courses sydney
womens leadership courses brisbane
womens leadership courses adelaide
executive leadership courses melbourne
executive leadership courses sydney
executive leadership courses brisbane
executive leadership courses adelaide
leadership development courses sydney
leadership courses workshops sydney
leadership course sydney
leadership coaching course sydney
leadership course north sydney
leadership and management courses sydney
leadership and management short courses
women in leadership
programs for women
keynote speaker
motivational speaker
emerging leaders
courageous leadership
sonia mcdonald
courses for women
executive coach
leadership coach

1 Comment

Leave a Reply