Talent X Teaser: Rachael Robertson on the future of teamwork

6 February 2024

Rachael Roberston knows a thing or two about what it takes to create a high performing team. It starts with strong leadership.

“Great self-awareness is number one. The ability to know your strengths but equally to know who to go to when it might be an area you’re not an expert in.”

Rachael is a teamwork guru. It is a skill she honed on the ice. For an entire year she led and motivated a high performing team of 18 wilderness warriors who bravely chose to take part in the 58th Australian Expedition to Antarctica.

“I asked the Antarctic Division why they selected me – knowing there were people with much better technical experience than me and they said one reason was because they agreed 100% with my leadership philosophy, which is that contemporary leadership is about creating more leaders, it’s not about creating more followers.”

The conditions the team faced were unimaginable. There were no days off, they worked in darkness for 24 hours a day for months on end, all while trying to survive temperatures hovering around a brutal minus 35 degrees. In complete isolation and in one of the most hostile environments on earth, they thrived. At Talent X in May, Rachael will explain how the team exceled in such a challenging environment, while sharing tips on how to maintain a high performing team now and into the future.

“One of the major points I’d like the audience to take away is that a high performing team deals with issues at the source in a timely and professional manner. They don’t let things fester, explains Rachael.

“My biggest concerns for my team was the possibility of someone spiralling with depression or exploding in anger. I didn’t feel like I had the ability to handle either scenario very well. We couldn’t send anyone home.

“I will talk about fostering an environment that mitigates risk. One where people feel free to speak up and address issues. The key is creating a culture of ‘No Triangles’ – of having direct conversations. It is about speaking directly to the person rather than taking the gripe to a third party.”

Her presentation is a ‘must see’ for everyone in the staffing and recruitment world. The way teams operate is rapidly changing and the process of creating a high performing team has shifted.

“Today, we have incredible diversity in the workplace, not just demographically but also cognitively. Creating a foundational culture where ‘respect trumps harmony’ is vital to strong teamwork, explains Rachael.

“My expedition team was incredibly diverse, yet we were an extremely high performing team because we had that ‘respect trumps harmony’ foundation. It meant we didn’t have to all love each other, be best mates, always agree and get along, but we always treated each other with respect.”

“Recruiters are often working in a high stakes environment. The ability to act fast, to innovate, to pull together to produce a solution requires a team that acts as ‘one team’. There cannot be any silos.

“It’s about creating a culture where people play the ball, not the person. Everyone must feel like they can contribute and throw an idea out there without being ridiculed. If you are striving for harmony at the expense of respect, then people won’t speak up. They will hide issues and ideas.”

When Rachael Speaks at Talent X, expect humour, expect stunning visuals, and expect the learn.

“My plan is to also offer practical tools that people can take away from Talent X and start using tomorrow. We’ll cover everything from a search and rescue following a plane crash to the peaceful resolution of the ‘bacon wars’ all with very practical, easy to implement tools for better leadership and teamwork. And it goes without saying there will be a penguin video. Afterall, it is Antarctica.”

Talent X will be held at on May 9 at The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Tickets are on sale now.