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Spinach and Leadership

I was picking spinach from my garden the other day and it reminded me of my Pa, Roderick Black. Weird maybe, but it did and it did because he used to grow it for our family and we had it at just about every meal. We ate Pa’s love almost daily in our house.

What I then started thinking about was the leadership Pa displayed, as a grandfather and as an agripolitical leader and of course I was reflecting on the influence he had on my life and on the lives of my brother and sister.

In my youth I remember fearing him a little. Just in the sense that he was stern in his manner and was short with his words, but he was also incredibly generous and wise. We used to think Pa was Bob Hawke when we were very small, because they kind of looked a little similar, at least they both had grey hair and were old and Pa was away a lot, on very important business, so naturally we thought he would be on TV!

In fact Pa was the chairman of Rural Press Ltd (now part of Fairfax Media) and spent a lot of time in Sydney and other parts of Australia, on business.

It was weird that my thoughts drifted  from spinach, to Pa, to leadership, but I guess what I was reflecting on, was that there are leaders and then there are leaders.

Pa believed in what he did. He was a passionate advocate for agriculture, until the day he died. He stuck his neck out, on more than one occasion, for what he thought was right and was criticized for it as much as praised.

But he was humble, humble enough to grow a veggie patch for his son, daughter in law and three grandchildren, so he could share in their lives, in a way that he was comfortable with.

Leadership begins at home and Pa showed me that. He was dogmatic and set in his ways, but he also challenged us to question and to see the sides of an argument and fight for what we believed. He taught us never to get too big for our boots and that every contribution matters – whether that be by growing veggies, or running a media empire.

I miss my Pa,but I know he would be proud of the leadership I show every day in my business, with my clients and in my community.

He lives on, in memory and in deed.




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