Acquiring and updating skills is absolutely vital for leaders in a fast-changing working world. Equally important is identifying things you should let go of. 

Dom Price, chief futurist at Australian-born tech giant Atlassian, calls it “unlearning”. “It’s confronting the fact that if things aren’t going well you might be the problem,” says Price, speaking at Qantas magazine’s first Think. event for 2024, a dinner at Brasserie 1930 inside the grand heritage hotel Capella Sydney.

The topic for the night was the required skill sets for modern leadership – and the broader workforce – and Price shared some of the techniques he has found most powerful throughout his career when it comes to building and motivating highly effective distributed teams.

“The unlearning exercise is called the Five Ls,” Price explained, adding that he was initially sceptical when a colleague shared it with him about seven years ago. Now he sits down to do it every quarter. “It’s ‘What do I Love about myself as a leader?’, ‘What do I Long for?’, ‘What do I Loathe?, ‘What have I Learnt?’ and ‘What have I Laughed at?’ in the past 90 days.”

dom price unlearning is key for modern leaders

“Love is simply do more of it because life’s too short. The Longed for versus the Loathed is an equation – you have to remove the Loathed to add in the Longed for. The Learnt is what experiment hack did you run in the past 90 days – if you didn’t do any then you’re stale and in a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. And if you’re not Laughing, you’re working through fear, which is not the curious mindset you need.”

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After going through that honest self-assessment, the task is committing to change. “What am I going to remove that isn’t working for me anymore as a leader and what am I going to sprinkle in and try that’s new?” 

Price stressed that it’s not about piling things on. “You don’t evolve as a leader by adding, you evolve by subtraction and as a society we’ve gotten carried away with addition. You have to remove things first to give yourself the space, the time and the freedom.”

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He revealed that one of the subtractions he’s made in 2024 are meetings that he probably didn’t need to be in. 

“I removed a whole lot of meetings [by identifying whether it] was either a boomerang or a stick. If [the meeting was] a boomerang, there was a purpose [to it] and it came back [on my calendar]. If it was a stick, it didn’t come back. [By doing this] I got 15 hours of my week back to spend on better things.” 

He eschews condemning the meetings themselves. “I can’t blame meetings – I blame my ego for attending meetings, thinking they’re better when I’m in them. It was a me issue, not a meeting issue!”

Think. is a thought-leadership event and content series, presented by Qantas magazine and in association with LSH Auto Australia – the country’s leading Mercedes-Benz dealer group. Find out more about LSH Auto Australia

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