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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 Six: Forces That Shape Our Thinking

by Julie Radford-Poupard

I was so excited about our LNZ session on the ‘Forces That Shape Us’ and it didn’t disappoint!

We meet at the groovy Q Theatre space in downtown Auckland and our session was wonderfully framed by two LNZ participants, Jenni Heka and Jade Tang-Taylor who had us thinking about whether we were all leaders, what it means to be a kiwi and much more and they concluded their framing session by reminding us of Buddha's words:

'We are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think.'

Louise, our masterful leadership guide also shared one of her memorable mentor’s quotes:

'We are a teabag and everything infuses us all the time.'

She challenged us to re-cog-nise the dominant dialogues in Aotearoa and consider who benefits and who doesn’t. To do this by seeking out wholeness and patterns rather a singular focus on the gaps. She reminded us that this leadership work is not for the fainthearted but rather for the full-hearted.

Our morning panel was full of extraordinary, out of the box, big thinkers. They talked about how the forces of the arts, media and culture influence and shape our thinking.

Dr Wayne Hope, Associate Professor AUT University, gave us a whistle stop tour of media ownership in Aotearoa. He argued that healthy societies must have controversy and our loss of economic sovereignty (particularly in media) is resulting in a decline in national identity.

Qiujing Wong, of Borderless, discussed a new way of creating social change, moving away from a model of force to power using storytelling to invite people to do social change together, you can check out a couple of highlights here; A Grandmother’s Tribe  and  Be. Accessible both are utterly inspirational.

Philip Patston, Managing Director of Diversity New Zealand Ltd, said:

'Our national thinking and identity is defined by a big blob of white-middle class culture surrounded by a few odd bits.'

He pointed out that despite public readiness for more diversity (recent research findings), broadcasters, advertisers and industry weren’t courageous enough to do what it would take to effect change. You can check out his excellent blog post on his panel experience here.

Lastly, Rewi Spraggon a trained chief, television presenter, musician and Māoripreneur (this very cool portmanteau was from Rewi) openly shared his leadership life with us including his biggest strength, which is in knowing his weaknesses.  He shared his involvement in Nga Whaotapu o Tamaki Makaurau, a collective of carvers working across all types of media with the kaupapa of transforming the landscape of Tamaki Makaurau, you can check out their latest works here.

We had the pleasure of an afternoon session with Dr Michelle Dickenson better known as Nanogirl who lectures at the University of Auckland and is co-founder of the charity OMG Tech! which brings technology to kids.  She threw down the gauntlet about the lack of gender equity in engineering and she really challenged us to have a life motto, something that encompasses why we are here. She shared her driving force:

'Stop Complaining, Start Changing.'

At each Leadership New Zealand we are always offered something rather edgy. For this session it was the theatre production ‘Not Psycho’, with the tagline:

'It’s not what we see but what we think we see.'

We had the pleasure of meeting the director who described the show as vegemite, you either like it or you don’t!  I can now say I am not sure if I love vegemite, but a deeper conversation post the theatre experience found three of us recalling very different stories.  Tagline – accomplished!

Day two saw us having the privilege of spending our entire day at AUT with Dave Wild and Leone Murphy from Better By Design; here we explored Design Thinking.   

They skillfully took us through the five steps to becoming a design thinker. A few of the gems were that design thinkers start with questions, not answers; they arrive at BIGGER solutions by starting with BIGGER challenges; they create the unexpected by letting their minds wander; they know they can’t predict the future so they create it instead and design thinkers know that testing isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.  We all went away committed and brimming with ideas about how we could apply design thinking into our organisations.

As you can see it was a jam packed action filled two days, our thinking was stretched, our knowledge basket filled and connections deepened.  Thanks, Leadership NZ. The journey continues to be truly aspirational!