Internal fighting… who wins?


Internal fighting

Dysfunction and division are the enemy.

Dysfunction and division have become the expectation of governments on all sides of politics. We are seeing it once again today. And once again, we all lose as a result. Yet instead of just sadly shaking our heads with dismay, what if we stopped accepting this as the natural course of events?

The behaviour we see playing out today through our State and Federal Government, is certainly not exclusive to them. Nor is it exclusive to politics. It’s alive and kicking in corporate organisations around Australia, albeit less visible.

Consider the disruption, wasted energy and harm of an internal battlefield where everyone armours up and goes to war.

A divided government or business creates disarray, confusion, disengagement, lack of confidence… and no trust. Just look at the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer to see the hard evidence that Government and Media are actively fuelling a cycle of distrust. These are the seeds they sow.

Are we complicit? Bullying and intimidation

If we say nothing and accept poor behaviour it is viewed as acceptable… and the lines then keep moving, usually to a more dangerous level.

Our lack of voice and inferred acceptance creates toxic work environments in Government and Industry. The perpetual cycle has our cultures in a pandemic of themselves.

How refreshing therefore was it to hear from Britney Higgins and Grace Tame at the National Press Club yesterday? These are two strong, inspiring young women who are using their voice to create change, yet their stories also highlight the need for issues to be raised contemporaneously.


As the ABC headline said – Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins are smashing rules and silence – and putting Australia’s political leaders on notice.

They are making themselves heard loud and clear and because of this, we can all feel that change is underway. It’s almost as if you can feel the tectonic plates shifting beneath the portals of power.

This is not a political message

I write this post not as a political message. This is a message that we need to change our acceptance of poor behaviour within our work environments – whether in government, corporate or NGOs. The poor behaviour we bear witness to today shows a complete lack of respect for the Australian people. It is incredibly damaging and feels every bit like a pandemic rivalling COVID.

A pandemic of disrespect, which when left unchecked, thrives and multiplies.

In my world – the world of risk management, I see one clear theme no matter where I turn. Internal fighting and manipulation, intimidation and exploitation of titles and responsibilities. Self-interested power.

Notice I didn’t use the word “leadership”. In many areas people trying to show up in a genuine leadership capacity are falling victim to internal fighting. Some of these leaders are executives, but many are not.

Too often we see executives assume the mantle of “leadership” as a default of their manager or executive title. Too often they are clearly not leadership material, because they lack the characteristics, behaviour and motivations of a true leader. Their executive title is their role responsibility, not an automatic pass to leadership. Yet these are the results of traditional organisational rituals, networks and hierarchy that have been allowed to fester for far too long.

Time for changeWe need to move past traditions that no longer serve our needs

We need to move beyond being stuck with what tradition has provided, as it does not represent our needs today or for tomorrow.

We need fresh thinking and approaches to build a future that is worthy of our effort. Let’s not live in ‘Groundhog Day’ hoping someone else will break the cycle. We each need to take action.

Living in the world of risk management and knowing that risk starts and ends with people… as does opportunity. Now is our opportunity to do something… only if we do so together.

We need to ensure poor behaviour is not accepted and build cultures that are fit for people to give their best efforts in a safe, inclusive and respectful environment.

It’s time to take back your power

Take back your power as individuals and as a collective movement. Find your voice. Make decisions. Take action.

It is your responsibility in the workplace, community and as we vote in elections for those who are to represent our voices.

Make yourself heard.

At Unearth we are working to unearth the voices of people in the workplace. If you would like to be involved in our upcoming surveys to understand how ordinary people are feeling in their workplaces; what their everyday challenges are; what’s important to them; how they view the future; how supported they feel; how inspired they feel; and how much they care about the success of their organisation… then register your email address here. We’ll be in touch when our first survey launches.




If you have found value in what we have shared, feel free to check out other blogs by the Unearth team and subscribe to our Newsletter. And if interested in the book ‘Risk Starts and Ends with People’ recently released then feel free to reach out to learn more or share your thoughts on the blog or any information we have provided, we would welcome hearing from you through


About the Author

Featured Posts

Unearth your organisation’s greatest defence against risk. Your people.