Marilyn Brien – Leadership Management

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Marilyn, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

In 1990, we made the sea change from Sydney as a family. For the next eight years I was involved with a local aviation company. The role presented many exciting challenges and was very fulfilling as far as our achievements in pilot training, search and rescue, passenger and freight charter were concerned. In 1998, I started working with Leadership Management Australia (LMA) as an Account Manager.

In 2005, I was given the opportunity to buy the LMA License for the Mid North Coast and thus became LMA – Marilyn Brien. Since then I have grown my team of facilitators, coaches and business development managers. We now have an awesome team of seven covering Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Grafton.


You’re the Licensee of LMA on the Mid North Coast. What services do you provide businesses?

We really love what we do. As a Registered Training Organisation, we provide training and development, delivering qualifications, measurable results and return on investment for our clients. We develop the areas of leadership, management, communication, performance, productivity improvements, team development and sales. Our open workshops involve face-to-face learning – a fantastic, fun-filled learning environment.

What has always appealed to me about LMA is the focus on the development of people. In other words, participants experience real change and continuous improvement through implementation of their learning to their personal and business lives. We also support participants through our unique development process with a LMA facilitator, LMA coach and a mentor from their workplace. We call this our communication triangle – all parties working together to achieve real change in behaviour and attitude, as well as a return on investment.


As the saying goes, “A fish goes rotten from the head down”. What do you see as the key components of good leadership?

A good leader understands and practises the key components – honesty, integrity, knowledge, experience, empathy, problem solving, decision making and of course, being a good listener. If all of these components are in place, there will be trust, and with trust comes employee engagement.


What impact can strong leadership have on an organisation?

Strong, fair and even-handed leadership in an organisation means you will have a cooperative team environment – everyone working together for the good of the organisation. The values will be set and clear to all. Employees who are happy will be engaged, roles and responsibilities will be clear, and there will be less employee turnover and sick leave. All of these elements impact on an organisation’s bottom line in a positive and productive manner.


What are some of the best ways to motivate employees?

That’s an interesting question, because the trend has changed over the years. In 2000, LMA developed the Leadership, Employment and Direction Survey (L.E.A.D) across Australia. The survey involved the employees, managers and leaders of thousands of organisations.

Our most recent survey around Positive Influences in the Workplace indicated that the five ways to best motivate staff were as follows:

  • Reasonable salary and pay
  • Being entrusted with responsibility/independence
  • Interesting/challenging work
  • Good relationships with other staff
  • Flexible working arrangements hours/family friendly hours

A good start for any business would be to look at these areas and see whether improvement is needed. It’s important to talk to your team about what might motivate them to do a better job or be happier in the workplace.


What challenges have you come across in running a business on the Coffs Coast?

I see challenges as opportunities to ask, “What could we do differently?” The great benefit of owning and operating a business regionally is the chance to grow and nurture relationships with clients on a face-to-face basis. We have worked with over 1,000 organisations on the Mid North Coast, some of whom we’ve been involved with for over a decade. As an organisation, LMA is at the forefront of training and development, acutely aware of change and continuous improvement. I believe that people can be your greatest challenge in business as well as your greatest asset – if you invest in them, develop them and effectively lead them. I believe that people behave as you let them behave, so if you’re not happy with their behaviour, you first need to look at yourself and the way you are managing and communicating with them. As an employer, it’s important to ask the question, “what could I do better?”


How do you remain so passionate after 17 years with LMA?

It’s great to share the results with our participants at each graduation. My team and I really love what we do. We are committed to achieving change in behaviour and attitude for all – that’s what really motivates me.


Have you had a mentor to guide you in business?

Brendan Walsh, who owned the LMA business in this area prior to my involvement, was a wonderful mentor. These days I consider many of the successful business owners, who are also clients, great mentors.


From where do you draw inspiration every day?

I love where I live, the relationships we develop and communicating with people. For me, doing what I love equates to my values of caring for and helping people. This is also played out through my involvement with Rotary, who do such wonderful work locally and globally.


Away from work, how do you spend your time?

We have a blended family of five children and 13 grandchildren, so that keeps us busy. I love to travel. Music is another passion of mine as well. And I absolutely love to read. I read all kinds of books and have a wonderful swap system with my girlfriends.

I very much value the importance of having a work/life balance – this is encouraged and supported through all of our programmes.


Thanks so much for your time and insight, Marilyn.

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