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We hold events for our alumni, friends, and the general public for people to connect with the important conversations in leadership.

Subject matter experts and prominent New Zealand leaders share their knowledge and engage with the audience, sparking new ideas and innovation as minds from different backgrounds converge and focus their energy on a salient issue or theme.

Session Three, A Civil Society: Our People

Written by David Udy, Group Manager Collections, IRD

I approached this session with some trepidation as I hadn’t prepared as well as I had for the previous two. With the words of alumni members ringing in my ears from the first session “You’ll be time poor,” I boarded the early morning flight to Auckland to see how the time together would unfold. Arriving at Ko Awatea, the Centre for Health System Innovation and Improvement the venue for Day One, was inspiring in itself. As Margie Apa explained during the lunch break, to invest in such a facility during times where resources could have been used elsewhere was a challenge for the Counties Manukau DHB, though one that has paid off; to me a very tangible result of how fearless leadership plays out.

My syndicate “The Year of the Ram” had the task of running the second session of the day with Pat Snedden who outlined what moral purpose meant to him.  Pat’s comments resonated strongly with me and this quote in particular framed the session, “It’s what you do for others that counts in leadership,” and the questions that followed for me. I certainly felt relieved at the end as I was chair and was hoping that there would be sufficient time to cover the interests of the cohort in the time available, feedback was positive from the cohort, phew!

The afternoon session was framed around a series of “road trips” in our syndicates to collect six vignettes from the world out there. This was a new exercise for the Programme; I found the report backs very powerful albeit they all ran over the six minutes allocated. While it would have been great to get more from each of the syndicate’s report backs, I suspect that the idea was to present a series of tasters, of others worldviews that would continue to challenge us, just as Jules had done with the opening framing and short quiz to find out who knew what (or if you prefer, who had done all of the pre-reading and who hadn’t). I was very pleased that my syndicate teammates had done their homework; we didn’t get the chocolate fish, although we didn’t come last either.

My syndicate visited the Rise Up Academy and spent a very fruitful two and a half hours with Sita Selupe, who was very welcoming and generous with her time.  Sita talked of the difficulties her community was facing in “slaying the brown tail” of educational under-achievement. She talked of how the whole system has to work for effective education to be delivered to tomorrow’s leaders’ one child at a time. And that for education to have failed then leadership within the community has also failed. Another fearless leader in action!

Collectively as a syndicate we felt that we’d done a pretty good job of staying in enquiry mode throughout the session with Sita.  Once again, I pondered as to how it is that we don’t hear about these “projects” that are underway to make real tangible differences in our communities. A question that’s not easily answered although a common theme for me so far on this journey, as a country we seem to sell ourselves short.

Day Two started with a great energiser run by syndicate Kete, a great way to start the day. Much of this day was focussed on who we are and what we do to look after ourselves.  The discussion about what makes up our essence or core I found useful as it provided a different way of thinking about what can get in the way of being ourselves.  Surprisingly I’ve never done the DISC profile before, so this was new for me, and while no new insights in terms of the findings as I’ve done many other profiles, it was very interesting to see how others saw the benefits or otherwise of these sorts of tools.

Day Two was also somewhat of a sad day as we said goodbye to the syndicates we’d been placed in on Day One of the programme, which felt quite a while ago now, and we met up with our new syndicate members. I’d also felt throughout the two days together that the 37th being was somewhat depleted as there were quite a few absences for a range of reasons including, illness, family and work commitments; a reminder that we all live and enjoy life with all of its twists and turns in a very dynamic way.

Up ahead, more reflection for me mostly about what role will I play in my new syndicate?