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Session Eight Programme Reflection

Creative Leadership and Emergent Thinking

Programme participant Tom Dibley shares his experiences and thoughts on Session Eight held on Waiheke Island.

It had been less than a month since our cohort gathered in Wellington and the wisdom imparted from our speakers and challenges set from that session were still being digested by all of us. For my friends and I in the 2014 cohort the space in between the sessions had been one of loss, change, new experiences and triumphs. Against that background we boarded the ferry to take us from Auckland to another world. The eighth and penultimate session for our leadership NZ 2014 cohort was held on Waiheke Island – a three day retreat on the island of trickling waters in the Hauraki Gulf.

Following the Waiheke session I have talked to other Leadership NZ participants from both my cohort and from other years about how difficult it is to describe the experience we have had with the programme. I have reflected on what the year so far has meant for me and has given me. For me Leadership NZ has been about bringing out what my story is and how it connects with others and to the world. This wasn’t what I was expecting from the program and is probably not the main takeout that others on the programme would have for themselves. The Waiheke session was a continuation of finding what my story was and bringing it out.

The focus of the session was creative leadership, taking what we had learned, absorbed and practiced internally from previous sessions and asking ourselves how we express and create in the wider world and with others.

We began by considering our own thinking when faced with stressful and difficult situations and how limiting this thinking can be. It caused many of us to reflect on our own actions, both positive and negative, when confronted by someone who is abusing their power. Under the expert poetic guidance of Dr Selina Marsh we massaged the poem we had been working on since February into haiku which we shared with each other on the sands of Onetangi beach.

Day two gave us four inspirational speakers, Grace, Welby, Billy and Michelle to share some of their journeys, reflections and story with us. Discussing afterwards it was clear that these four were some of the most thought provoking and motivational that we had during the year. The second day also gave us the opportunity to go into the forest and tell each other our stories through the creation of a piece of art through nature and give each other reflections on what we saw in the person through the art. This prompted a piece of art from a story that I never realized meant so much to me.

Favourite parts for me of every Leadership NZ session are the opportunities to spend time with the other participants outside of the structure of each session so a Friday night of pizza, dancing and beer at Stefano’s pizzeria was a great way of relaxing and bonding further. Stefano himself joined us for our last morning to show us some methods of responding in the moment and vocally and expressively sharing and reinforcing our values with each other.

From there it was the goodbyes to those who were staying on; a ferry trip with the rest; taxis to the airport for the out- of- towners; a beer at the airport; a boarding call; a flight back to wellington. A realisation that the 2014 cohort has only one session left together.

I am very fortunate to have been given the gift of the 2014 Leadership NZ cohort participants. Together we have seen and heard from inspirational leaders and individuals who lift us in spirit as we see how a difference can truly be made in the world. For all of those who have come and shared their stories with us, what fills me with hope, joy and beautiful personal inadequacy is the 32 other individuals that are on this journey with me. I took a moment during one of our Waiheke sessions to look around the room at my whanau. As I look through them I can see a different, better, world and that is what makes me smile.

Tom Dibley
Manager, Office of the Chief Executive, Earthquake Commission