Australia has recently signed a deal with the UK and the USA. It’s called AUKUS. Yep. It is. This deal will see Australia gaining a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. That, as a standalone piece of news, is big. There are so many parts to consider like the volume of money we are spending vs the return on investment; whether this is a solid partnership; and the fact it will be nuclear powered, just to start with. But that’s not where I want to go.
On top of negating this new deal. We have majorly pissed France off in the process. Why? Because in 2016 Australia and France signed a $90M agreement to provide Australia with 12 Barracuda submarines. And what we know is that Australian officials had written to their French counterparts to say they were “satisfied” with how the deal was progressing on the day before AUKUS was announced. Hmm. Um. Ok.
The French are pissed. Not only was the deal crucial for hundreds of small and medium businesses with a massive economic impact. It’s how Australia announced it. It’s the deception that they are mostly speaking about. Trust has been severely damaged.
No wonder they feel blindsided. Clearly, Australia was planning this behind their backs. When asked in a press conference about the now severely damaged relationship with France, Scott Morrison replied with; ‘Well, our door is always open’. When Morrison was asked whether he would be willing to apologise to Macron, Morrison stood behind his decision and said he ‘acted in accordance with Australia’s national security issues’. We pulled out of a massive financial deal and gave no indication, until literally, the final hour and that’s the response?
Erin Meyer, who authored The Culture Map tells us that if you understand the heritage of the French, the way they build trust is through relationships. Whereas Australian culture tends to lean towards trust being built through getting things done. Cultural dynamics are always at play. Ignore them at your peril.
When you’re leading there is a balance between asking for permission versus asking for forgiveness. Sometimes we need to make decisions fast, that involve many. Sometimes we need to make decisions that few have privy to all the information.
We also pull out of things in life that we initially commit to. Like marriages, jobs, travel arrangements, lending money to friends. This is not uncommon.
Pulling out of a deal is one thing. How you handle it can make all the difference.
Deceit has no place. Apologies are powerful.
Arrogance is an antagonist. Ownership is powerful.
I feel we are in an accountability epidemic right now. When we don’t take responsibility for the role we play in relationships, that we build or damage, then trust can be very hard to repair. At home and at work. We need to be as good as we can be at identifying this and owning it.
PS – If you loved this then you might just be super keen to learn about our kickarse culture program ‘Working as One’. Send me a note if you’d like to have a chat or click HERE to register for one of our Working as One online events.