Written by Kimberly Rees, Alumna 2013
For Judy Nicholl, General Manager of Aeronautical Operations at Auckland Airport, the value of the Leadership NZ Programme is quite clear - she incorporates what she learned from it into her work each and every day.
An example of this is the small Mind Map hanging on her office wall that she created while on the Programme. She says it “is a constant reminder of my anchor points when I look up from my computer screen.” Judy also has three books of notes she took while on the Programme readily available on a shelf in her office that she often pulls out when needing guidance in dealing with complex issues, or for general refreshment and inspiration. It has been five years since Judy attended the Leadership NZ Programme as part of the 2010 cohort, so this is clearly a testament to the Programme’s prolonged relevance and long-term personal influence.
Judy states, “Leadership NZ is the gift that keeps on giving. The Programme grounded me while at the same time, opened me up and provided a compass for both my professional career and personal life.”
Since graduating in 2010, Judy has embraced the Leadership NZ mission of alumni ‘to grow active leadership’ through her management position at Auckland Airport. She does this by investing in at least one (and sometimes two) of her staff to attend the Programme each year. “I do this because I know that Leadership NZ creates competent, authentic leaders, who are values-based, focussed on the future and ‘in leadership for life’. On a practical level as well, Leadership NZ provides each participant with frameworks, models and a huge toolkit to draw from. This benefits not only the participant, but also myself as the manager and the rest of the team; it raises the calibre of the whole organisation.”
Judy says there is a strong culture of sharing and continued learning within her team and an expectation of ‘the sharpening of tools’ at her organisation. “We expect that year’s participant to report back and be the example for others. Inevitably, they show greater responsibility and proactive approaches which definitely lifts the bar in a positive way for all those around them.”
Judy admits that she vicariously enjoys the Leadership NZ Programme experience through the staff person attending that year, but because the material is dynamic and continually upgraded, it is not a reliving experience as such. Instead, she says, it is reciprocal, “Each person, from each Leadership NZ session, brings back something new for me to learn, incorporate into our work, or just to think about. That’s what makes it so great and motivates us to stay involved with the Programme at an organisational level.”
“Of course each participant gets different things on a personal level from the Programme as well. But what I see as the common denominator for each graduate is the confidence and ability to have enriched dialogue and complex discussions with respect and dignity.”
As a leader of a large and diverse, multi-faceted operations team, Judy role-models these traits of a Leadership NZ graduate and puts great emphasis on creating a supportive, trusting environment for her team. “Collaboration is key in operations as it usually takes more than one person to accomplish great things,” she says. “So it is very important for me to create a safe, working environment where people respect one another, aren’t afraid to give-it-a-go, fail, reflect, share, learn give-it-a-go again and expand beyond what they currently think they are capable of. This is my role as a leader.” Judy Nicholl, an open person - true to herself, is a fine example of Fearless Leadership and is also helping to create Fearless Leaders for our future.