by Angela Green, Programme Manager, Auckland Arts Festival
For a record-breaking 4th consecutive year since graduating in 2012, 16 of us (plus Meg, the greyhound) gathered together in a former café nestled in a dilapidated palm tree grove just outside of Omaha. Each evening we relaxed at a gigantic shared house in Omaha Beach. Why were we there? To catch up, share our achievements and challenges over the last 12 months, and to explore the theme of “Authentic Leadership.”
Sadly, this was the first year we were unable to have Louise Marra as our facilitator/provocateur. (She probably needed a year off to recover from the last one!)
Luckily, we have an expert facilitator in our number, Philip Patston, recently named in the top 10 of The Economist’s Global Diversity List.
Philip took us through a number of exercises and reflections in what authenticity meant and felt like, and a quick session on Diversity. A key learning for me in this session was an acknowledgment that we always label ourselves and each other, there is no escaping labels and first impressions. The challenge is when we do get things wrong to then have the humility to apologise, (or to forgive) and have the conversation to get it right.
Later we were joined by Jo Hutchinson, a leadership coach who lead us through a series of authentic leadership visioning exercises.
We had a lot of fun, as well as recapping key ideas and learning new skills. I have always found our retreats to be like an annual leadership health check up – how am I doing, what has shifted since last year, what has consolidated? It’s also magic to observe people’s growth year on year and we have observed some exceptional career changes, personal development and surprising life twists.
We enjoyed shared dinners and drinks each night, and each person presented a Pecha Kucha to give a snapshot of their past year. It is always wonderful to hear from those who can’t be at the retreat too, with news and emails coming in from some of our colleagues who couldn’t make it. Slightly unplanned was the lack of hot water at the bach, meaning a few of our number braved cold showers – completely accidental in one case!
Big thanks to Judy from Leadership NZ who made the trip up to give us an update on the organisation's priorities.
It always amazes me how year on year we get at least half of our group together, and four years on, the commitment to keep to an annual retreat is still strong.
We encourage other cohorts to take the leap and organise a retreat too! All it takes is the desire and setting a date early enough for people to put in their diaries. Each year we have had a different team take up the challenge of organising it and ensure it’s affordable/accessible for everyone.
Roll on 2017!