Written by Kimberly Rees, Alumna 2013
Ten years ago, Lynette was hired to build up a flailing regional sports trust in West Auckland. It was a daunting task and what got her through the first steps was her innate belief in enabling the community (to do for themselves) and the power of “people connecting” and building relationships.
Now upon reflection, she realises that she attended the Leadership NZ Programme approximately halfway through, what is her ten-year journey to date, as CEO of Sport Waitakere. “It was a time where I had accomplished the task of securing the organisation, and the services we were providing to the community were flourishing, but I needed to be doing more.”
So in 2009 after scoping out numerous professional development / leadership courses, Lynette chose the Leadership NZ Programme because it had a future of New Zealand focus. She admits, the Programme came at a perfect time in her professional career / development. “I thought; what a great place New Zealand is and how lucky we are to live here. What can we do to make it even better? How can I be a better global citizen and how can I contribute to making the world a better place?” Lynette says that a pivotal time within the Programme for her was after the session titled Civil Society when her sense of purpose became clear. “I realised how important it is to build and develop communities to be strong and vibrant where people are healthy and connected. I was in my dream job and what better platform is there than to use sport and recreation as a vehicle to do this!”
Not considering herself “a leader” before the Programme, Lynette wears the mantle of leadership proudly and now acknowledges the breadth of leadership styles and the capacity for anyone to be a leader. “I now know, and embrace the fact that I am a Servant Leader – putting the needs of others first, sharing the lead and helping people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
This approach has worked well for Lynette as she’s the first one to admit that communities are complex and the collaboration approach takes a lot of time, but the end result of empowering communities to do for themselves is well worth it.
Lynette has built Sport Waitakere as a community development organisation and is clear about her role, as CEO, is to highlight the value that community sport and recreation provides in strengthening our society. “An example of this is a local football club with 125 volunteers who are positively affecting the lives of approximately 900 kids each week. And that’s just one club! What other medium could do that?” Lynette points out.
True to the character of the Servant Leader, the line between when the work finishes and her own personal contribution to the community is not distinct for Lynette. Not only is she passionate about supporting her staff’s professional development (so they are learning, coaching and passing on the knowledge to improve the local sport and recreation sector), but Lynette is an active volunteer on a number of not-for-profit boards, coaches a youth sport team and was instrumental in growing the regional provision of hockey for the Waitakere area, just to name a few things she is personally involved in.
Being an active volunteer she says “keeps me in touch with the grassroots issues and the barriers to participating in sport and recreation which people experience and Sport Waitakere is helping to resolve”.
This passion of Lynette’s is well recognised within the sector. Recently she was awarded a Winston Churchill Scholarship which enabled her to do some research in Australia on innovative community and recreation programmes. “I came back buzzing with ideas,” she says.
Lynette clearly identifies with her organisation’s motto of Lead. Enable. Strengthen. When asked if she had one piece of advice for future leaders she says “Do the Leadership NZ Programme as every day I am using what I have learned from there” and then pulls out a quote which she refers to often and that sums up a message she likes to pass on.