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December | Thought Leadership | Read time: calculating...

Allan Keogh – 2021 in Review


The founder of Keogh Consulting, Allan Keogh, this year celebrated 37 years at Keogh and his 44th year in the consulting space.

Life should never stand still, and Allan continues to be a lifelong learner and always up for a new challenge to help clients and their businesses to transform.

Far from 2021 being merely the annus horribilis, he suggests that the events of this year should be prompting leaders into a mindset shift before entering 2022.

Allan, what did you jump into this year that you’ve never done before?

It didn’t start this year, but something I have jumped into was a Graduate Certificate in Human Geography at Curtin University, which stretched me dramatically. I’m on my way to doing a Masters, so that was virtually jumping in boots and all and getting stuck into it. I deliberately wanted to pick something I knew nothing about. So essentially, it’s learning about the Anthropocene, the impact of humans on our planet, from a macro to micro point of view, from world government to local government, and how that impacts us as humans. That’s more than CO2 and icecaps; we’re looking at all the elements of human development since the industrial revolution and how it’s impacted our planet’s systems, one element of which causes climate change. What’s fascinating is the relationships we have with cities — how they influence us or vice versa — how cities are designed, developed, and run. There’s also an important regional view, looking at physical geography around the impact of fires and flooding.

Tell us about what you’ve learned so far with the course.

The first thing is that there are eight elements that are impacted by human activities. One of those is climate change; the other seven don’t get much airtime. COP26, activists and now the media are beating the drum about climate change, but the other seven need to be brought to our attention for focused and integrated action – they are Ocean acidity, Ozone Depletion and Health of the Atmosphere, biodiversity, Nitrogen, Freshwater, Chemical pollution, Land systems.

From my point of view, the second key takeaway is the realisation that there’s no need for doomsday talk. I don’t buy that at all. I think there are so many things we can do to turn things around – and we don’t have a choice – we need to ACT NOW. Our ingenuity and creativity can make a world of difference if we have the willingness to and belief in being able to create a positive outcome.

What have you celebrated this year?

Now we’re in our 38th year; the business is running more and more autonomously without me, so my team is doing a tremendous job. Another thing to celebrate is that I’m alive, and well, and healthy. Many people aren’t so fortunate, they don’t have freedoms that we/I enjoy. Many are imprisoned by covid, conflict, poverty, domestic violence, poor food security or their mindset.

There is so much to be thankful for.

You have been through quarantine travelling between states; what did you learn from that experience?

It’s not fun. I really feel sorry for people in Victoria and New South Wales in terms of what they’ve been through. But what’s the main lesson? Well, I choose not to be on my own. I want to work with and be in the company of others — where I feel I’m far more effective. I think the other thing it’s liberated my wife and me to think more and more about what we love doing most: exploring the world, getting out there, hiking, exploring, being curious and doing some adventurous things.

Are there any big projects you have planned for 2022?

I’ve already started writing a book tentatively titled, What Can I Do. In other words, what can an individual do to make a world of difference? I plan to complete that in parallel with doing the Masters, so it could end up being a thesis and be released in 2024 or 2025.

Tell us about the activities you’ve undergone that have nurtured each quadrant of the Keogh Wisdom Wheel.

Quadrant one, the EQ (Emotional Quotient) is the concept of emotional intelligence is developing an effective relationship with self and an effective relationship with others. EQ is to rekindle, renew and take good care psychologically of self. So, it’s firstly about nurturing that and, wherever possible, having as many opportunities as possible that reinforce the relationship you have with self. Secondly, it’s the importance of relationships and support. Traditionally, I’m not that good at asking for help or support, so it’s realising that I need to do that and strengthen relationships with others.

In the SQ (Spiritual Quotient) department, it’s reconnecting with personal vision and purpose. So, it’s been a very satisfying year in terms of the pros from the pro-bono work I’ve done with the RSL. I’m about to deliver a strategy for our branch at the RSL that will make a world of difference in the lives of those people who have served — and our philosophy is to serve those who have served. So that’s been enriching, that whole process.

The TQ (Technical Quotient) department requires us to be constant learners. So, discovering and exploring new books, new ideas and concepts. One of the key books that have made a difference in the last 12 months is Apocalypse Never, published in October of last year. And it’s a must-read book for people who have a positive attitude of what can we do to turn the world around.

And from a PQ (Physical Quotient) point of view, this is where I’ve failed badly. I realise I need and will put more effort into physical fitness, health, and well-being. The last holiday I took was in February 2020. So, rest, recreation, physical fitness, health, and well-being will get a big increase in effort and energy in the next six months.

Beyond COVID, what significant events are shaping the industries that Keogh works with?

I think the big one for me is the organisations making the statement that ‘we want to be carbon neutral by 2025, or 2030 or 2050,’ or whatever it might be. They’re, right now, investing in technology and systems solutions to achieve that.

The part that will probably be ignored is to prepare people to behave, think, and operate differently. We need that behavioural change, a paradigm shift in thinking across that business. That’s about developing different leadership skills and competencies, leading the organisation to move away from inappropriate behaviours and practices towards different ways of being.

So, what are those top skills to work on for any leader in 2022?

One of the biggest challenges is going to be retention and attraction of talent, and one of the best ways to do that is to enrich and develop an engaging culture that liberates corporate soul, that liberates people’s capacity, and enables them to self-actualise.

I think that it is a huge opportunity. And ignore it at your peril. From a corporate point of view, it’ll cost you a fortune to hire people, and it’ll cost you a fortune to lose people, so, therefore, don’t lose them, retain them, grow them, develop them.

There’s a lot of talk around now about the Great Resignation. But what we should be trying to create is something called the Great Re-engagement, or the Great Rejuvenation — the tapping of the talent that you’ve got. One of the reasons people leave an organisation is that they feel like their talents are not being utilised or tapped, or they feel stale; they feel ignored and disempowered. So, there’s a huge opportunity there, but many will miss it without some significant changes in how leaders lead.

However, as I said, it’s not healthy or helpful to dwell in the doomsaying.
I think the next few years will be a golden time — all we need is to be prepared for that to make it happen.