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Leadership lessons from a peacekeeper

Byron Connolly | July 29, 2014
Former Australian soldier Matina Jewell knows a thing or two about leading a team. She shared her experiences as a United Nations peacekeeper during the 2006 Lebanon War with attendees at this year's CIO Summit.

It was there that she received the tragic news that her UN colleagues were killed on July 25 when an Israeli fighter jet fired a 1000-pound laser-guided bomb on the Khiam base.

The remains of the UN base in Khiam after the attack

Jewell was separated from the UN force and felt isolated. Compounding this isolation was the failure of UN commanders — including her Australian leader — to contact her about the deaths of her teammates.

"All the information I received was via the media and I think as a result of that lack of content from my leaders, it took me many years to come to terms with the deaths of my team mates."

This is a lesson for leaders of all types of business that during times of crisis, it is more important than ever to communicate with your people, said Jewell.

"Particularly if you want to get them through that crisis event and out the other side as a functioning and cohesive team that is capable of being able to move forward and continue operating effectively in the future."

Matina Jewell has since won a long legal battle with the Australian government to receive the health cover she needed for treatment of her injuries as well as recognition for her war service.

She is now retired and lives in country Victoria with her husband and two-year-old daughter. She has also served on the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council, advising the government on defence and veteran issues.

 

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