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A Word From the CEO - Awakened Leadership in the Future of Work

Written by Sina Wendt, Alumna 2008 and CEO of Leadership NZ

Sina newsletter photo 2018.jpg

In February, our Leadership NZ whanau gathered to honour the Class of 2018 (I invite you to meet them here) our 14th year of The New Zealand Leadership Programme. The 34 leaders from across Aotearoa participating in the 2018 Programme have accepted the challenge to develop and expand their adaptive leadership capabilities, build their skill sets to lead across diversity, to build meaningful and authentic relationships, and engage and harness the power of people in their organisations and communities to respond to and lead change.

Every year at Leadership NZ, we adopt a leadership theme to guide our overall work, to help focus and centre everything we do. In previous years guiding themes have included: Disruptive Leadership, Creative Leadership, Fearless Leadership, Mindful Leadership, and Integrative Leadership. 

This year we have chosen the theme – “Awakened Leadership, in the future of work”.  

We live in a world fraught with complexity, volatility and rapid change, and as leaders, it can be a huge challenge to keep up with innovation and technology developments and predict what is required moving into an unknown future. In particular, we are curious about how we prepare ourselves, our people, and our organisations to adapt and respond, or indeed drive the change.

So, Awakened Leadership... what does that mean?

Well, we want to think about - how, and in what ways, must WE be awakened?

With a macro, universal view – it is asking how must we awaken to the huge challenges in the future of human “work”. How do we respond to the increasing complexity, volatility and uncertainty, to the impacts of increasing diversity in (society and) the workplace? What is the impact of technological advances - artificial intelligence, augmented realities? What are the moral and ethical dilemmas these innovations give rise to? How do we address the environmental crises on a global scale that threaten our very existence, to the chaos that undermines organisations, companies, communities?

What does leadership need to look like in the age of the robots? The internet of things? How must we adapt and respond to in that unknown future, to shape, and drive the future we want? The one that our children, grandchildren, and future generations will live in down the track? Much of the futurist work being done shows we are lagging. We are still very much “asleep”, unaware and unprepared on all levels for this rapidly changing universe.

As individuals, it means to be more conscious, alive and intentional - to investigate those areas inside ourselves, our learning edges, the light and shade, to uncover latent strengths and superpowers that we must catalyse, to be aware of areas to work on and grow, to be the best leaders and expanded versions of ourselves that we can be.

This year we are exploring how we can become more “woke” in our leadership! How do we move beyond fear and lead with abundance, leadership with an enlightened, awakened human spirit and energy?

It is about working to re-awaken and nurture our soul, and awaken the human spirit of others, it’s about becoming a witness, aware and appreciative of the wholeness of life, the connectedness and interrelationships between all creatures on this planet, and the important role we have as guardians to protect, develop and futureproof our existence.

In New Zealand, there is much focus in recent times on how important diversity and inclusion is critical for organisations i.e. CQ, cultural intelligence is the new “competitive advantage”. The fact that leaders from some of our largest, mono-cultural, male-dominated, organisational hierarchies are doing D&I work on their culture and structures is a positive thing. The leadership challenge is to go beyond the process and logic, the tokenism and paternalism of D&I councils, company policies, cultural celebrations (food and dancing), to build inclusive workplaces where people can bring their whole selves to work.

This requires those leaders in power to really look into their hearts as well as minds; to call out and address their own biases, privilege, to be open and vulnerable to hearing from the diverse voices of their people, to think about how inclusive they are in their everyday lives. CQ can’t just be a “thing” at work! I was heartened to read about Simon Moutter’s recent “a-ha moment” as he faced some uncomfortable truths about Spark’s approach to D&I and his realisation that he wants people to bring their hearts to leading differently within their organisation; that Spark needs to be more inclusive of the full diversity of people in the company. Awakened leadership right there!

We look forward to exploring Awakened Leadership with you, through our programmes and thought leadership events. We are also very pleased to be supporting the NZCEO Summit for the fourth year, and as partners to the Ken Robinson and Hillary Rodham Clinton events in Auckland bring preferential pricing to our leadership network.

Soifua ma ia manuia