Sources of Power in Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Fairfax Media, Rio Tinto Group Pages: 3 (743 words) Published: April 20, 2013
The chairman of Shell Australia, Russell Caplan, has had
many careers since graduating from Melbourne University in
1968—but all in one company. Most recently, Caplan led
the restructuring of the company’s oil and chemical
distribution and marketing into a global business from late
2004. Shell Australia’s profit before interest and tax
increased almost 70 per cent, to $1.23 billion, in 2005 after reforms at Victoria’s Geelong and Sydney’s Clyde refineries added to oil and gas production profits. But Caplan is
facing a considerable test in helping Shell’s Gorgon gas
joint-venture partners gain final approval from the West
Australian Government for the project, after concerns were
raised by the WA Environmental Protection Agency. Here is
what he says:
‘In all of my time with Shell, the one constant is change. I say to my people, “You had better get used to it because
that’s the way we work.” The contribution I can make is to express things as simply and clearly as I can. People react
positively if they are shown a clear way forward—it doesn’t have to be a new or profoundly brilliant way; it just has to be clear. I find people have difficulty with priority setting, so giving them some guidance makes it legitimate to focus on

some things more than others.
‘When it comes to the challenges of depletion of natural
resources and reducing emissions facing the oil industry, the first thing is to recognise sustainable development as a
fundamental part of our philosophy. Triple-bottom-line
reporting is real for us, not just talk. We would not be
involved with the Gorgon project unless we could meet the
social and environmental consequences too. I have personal
targets associated with my remuneration. Triple-bottom-line
reporting is embedded in our company, and that sometimes
makes me a little sharp with some people who wish to take
the view that we are big industry and therefore we couldn’t recognise those issues.
‘I have been continually surprised...
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