Written by Hilary Sumpter, Chief Executive, Kerikeri Retirement Village
It's a long time since February 2010 when I embarked on the Leadership NZ Programme and wondered what on earth I had left myself in for. At the end of that year I was ready to sign up to do it all over again, sadly that's not allowed. Since finishing I've remained connected with Leadership NZ, firstly as an Alumni representative and now on the Board. I've also been fortunate to be involved with events and partnerships via LNZ and benefited from the networks and connections my year on the Programme has created.
I've been reflecting recently on the experience of being on the Programme and how it still resonates with me. The number one benefit is the connections I made to both people on the journey with me that year as well as other alumni. Which is worth its weight in gold.
The continuing resonance is the generosity of spirit from the speakers we had during the year, from whom I learnt so much. My standout for the year was Sir Paul Reeves, whose words I still carry today. However there were so many standouts and I’ve kept my notes from the year which I don’t really need to refer to anymore, but I’ve still got them.
So then there was the opportunity to grow my own self-awareness, which is the true enrichment of my year and helped me to grow as a leader, decide where I wanted to go and how to be true to myself. This meant learning to feel the fear and have faith in my own ability to work things out without necessarily knowing how the path to the outcome will play out.
Since completing my year I’ve changed my roles and I’ve learnt what I don’t want to do, or need to do and I’ve learnt a huge chunk of humility. I’ve aimed to be a leader who is a combination of disruptive, integrative and empowering – without consciously planning it; a lot of it is following my instincts and trusting myself. However, I have also become conscious of continuously learning. One major take out: never turn down an opportunity to learn.
A year ago I was in the fortunate position to take up a new challenge; chief executive of the Kerikeri Retirement Village in the Far North. Aged care is a booming sector, one with many challenges and in need of strategic development. My role is a big job in a small town and for me, it’s a chance to contribute again to a region that is highly deprived of infrastructure and opportunities. Here I can apply my leadership skills and learn extensively again, in an organisation that contributes much to making a difference in people’s lives. The decisions to change sectors and towns, and disrupt our lives was one I had to take with a huge leap of leadership faith.
And although frantically busy if I could I would still make the time to repeat the Programme at any point.