Anya Satyanand and Sandra Alofivae delivered the Graduands’ Speech on behalf of Class of 2018 - The New Zealand Leadership Programme.
Firstly, we honour those leaders upon whose shoulders we stand – the trailblazers, the troublemakers, the visionaries, those restless souls who sought a better world for those that followed.
Secondly, we honour the leaders working for change in the world right now - those who are stepping up, activating communities and the wider marketplace whom the Leadership NZ 2018 cohort are proud to be amongst.
And finally we honour the leaders to come. They have been central to many of our Leadership NZ journeys this year, and whether it’s our desire to leave them with less degraded marine environments, a more equitable and sustainable economy, a more participatory and inclusive democracy or socially just world, we’ve all spent time shaping the way in which our leadership will create goodness for future generations.
In framing our reflective thoughts, we are mindful of the soul-soaking experience we have all been on this year and want to pay tribute to our individual and collective journeys as way-finders, using navigational tools arrayed before us by our esteemed coaches and quintessential guides Louise Marra and Nicola Campbell.
We have learnt on our journey that the highest form of leadership is LOVE. Awakened Leadership therefore was about aligning our “head knowledge with the heart knowledge”. An intelligent (head knowledge) leader can achieve much through persuasive arguments and articulate strategies but an intuitive (heart knowledge) leader can influence their environment far more profoundly through their natural ability and learned skills to understand intangible factors and work with them to accomplish leadership goals. An intuitive leader will do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do for the greater good.
Throughout this year, we have seen Leadership NZ craft leaders willing to use their talents and powers to advance Aotearoa’s future. Leadership NZ encourages you to examine your life by looking in the mirror – it takes you on a personal journey of self-discovery/self-empowerment. By the end of the journey we were able to articulate our personal value sets, the non-negotiables in our lives. We learnt some uncomfortable truths along the way - internal governance is a skill you foster and develop. Your inability to recognize this leaves you constantly at the risk of losing your autonomy and being controlled by external circumstances.
How do you speak truth to a system to establish a new status quo? By undertaking inquiries, for I am part of the system. Transformational energies are required to change a system. We experienced the beauty of the ‘micro-pause’ – selah moments to reflect on decisions allowing you to be the master of your own fate.
Thank you Louise, Nicola, Judy, Annette and Sina for enabling us to appreciate who the great I AM is within each of us by exploring our inner space; our digestion; learning to presence and take inner selfies; our resonance; congruence; our authenticity; seeing emotions as wisdom; shadow integration; healing; inspiration; body intelligence and our bliss is our joy.
In seeking our own inner truths, we have a richer understanding of what is required of us personally if we are to truly be transformative awakened leaders now and in the future.
Our journey as a cohort can perhaps be described in the fine weave of the korowai, a traditional Māori cloak unique to us here in Aotearoa. There are three particular threads that form part of the core design of the korowai.
At our first retreat in Silverdale, despite the bewilderment and anxiety, the sacred thread that would hold us together - te aho tapu - became discernible. It glinted in these early moments - as fleeting as a reflection off a distance surface. We tossed a ball of string between us and held the web we’d made, feeling the tension and anticipation of 35 people coming down the wire at us, and emanating from us. Conversations started - sometimes shyly, sometimes boldly. These conversations have become the sacred thread for our learning.
The second thread is called Aho. This is the weft or horizontal threads. We have come to recognize Aho as our relationships with one another. A strong pattern emerged with every retreat. Once you know something about an issue, you can’t unknow it. Impactful change was built off the courage, strength and passion of individual leader’s commitment to hold fast to principles and values for a much bigger purpose. The intricate lives of Sir Bob Harvey, Sir Jim Bolger, Pat Snedden and Ngāti Whātua’s Bastion Point occupation are timely reminders of the importance of relationships to name a few. Taking care of the va – the sacred space between relationships - is important to nurture if we are to grow together as awakened leaders in an increasingly complex world.
The vertical or warp threads, are called whenu. This is the third thread. The whenu are our My Lives stories – powerful and poignant, each one distinct and memorable. To be able to pour yourself out so generously without measure is a gift to one another. Through this process, we have come to appreciate our mauri and recognise how to keep it filled.
The Leadership NZ team has painstakingly crafted its 2018 korowai. Our thread of extensive conversations; our thread of relationships and the thread of My Lives are all carefully woven together through the Leadership NZ framework to create an authentic tapestry that can’t be replicated by any other year.
We, the graduands, make up the individual threads that underpin this garment of honour. We have laughed; we have danced; we have triumphed, and we have shared in one another’s sorrow. Together we’ve woken up - to ourselves, to each other, and to the urgent issues around us.
As we come to the close of our exceptional journey together, recognizing that it wasn’t always harmonious, we are reminded that the diverse make up of our cohort covers the seven spheres of influence in our society today. We have people from government; education; philanthropy; arts and entertainment; media; family and business. These spheres are intertwined.
They overlap and have the ability to influence generationally. Let’s decree together that individually and corporately we will commit to developing the character required to stand out and excel in our spheres of influence (in our homes; our communities; our workplaces and in our nation) to influence our world to be a better place.
We want to end on this quote from Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point. He described the same as “…that moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.”
Let us be the Leadership NZ cohort that moves out purposefully with the eyes of our hearts wide open becoming the game-changer our nation needs in our respective spaces as awakened leaders. A massive congratulations to the graduating class of 2018.