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We hold events for our alumni, friends, and the general public for people to connect with the important conversations in leadership.

Subject matter experts and prominent New Zealand leaders share their knowledge and engage with the audience, sparking new ideas and innovation as minds from different backgrounds converge and focus their energy on a salient issue or theme.

Invisible Spaces

Retreat One of The NZ Leadership Programme was completely unexpected. This is what I expected:

  • Powerpoint presentations

  • Frameworks

  • Strategies

  • Awkward ice breakers

  • Group projects

I also expected I would:

  • Drink too much coffee

  • Awkwardly make half-hearted conversation with the other participants

  • Listen in a daze to the speaker and watch them roll out beautiful slides

  • Think about how I would apply the learning with increasing anxiety

This is not at all what we got. (I did drink too much coffee, but that was a personal choice).

Instead, we talked about the essential but invisible world of human connection; a fitting theme for the first retreat of a programme founded in part on peer coaching.

To my surprise and delight, within hours we were having real, authentic conversations with each other, and I was already having ‘lightbulb’ moments thanks to the excellent speakers.

The schedule was demanding; I woke up at 4:30am to catch my flight on the first day, and three very full days later I collapsed in a jelly-like heap of new thoughts, new friendships, new realisations about myself, and a genuine excitement for what the year will bring. I then poured all those jelly-like thoughts into the ears of my patient partner - and I’m sure I made no sense at all.

But the next week, things started to make sense. I was changing. I had a challenging situation at work: I used what I’d learned. I took on a project with a new confidence. I saw the world in ways I had never seen before.

Yesterday I listened to Hidden Brain (one of my favourite podcasts), and the guest speaker used an excellent analogy that applies perfectly to this retreat: Imagine analysing a piece of music. You start, like a scientist, with its component parts. You have an A sharp, E, some Cs and so on. But if you tried to smash those notes together you’d have just sound; you’d have nothing. What’s missing is the silence. The pauses between the notes link them together into one coherent whole.

It would be completely understandable (for those amateur music lovers like myself) to think of music as just a lot of notes strung together. Likewise, it would be easy to think of leadership training as a lot of individual strangers learning a lot in the same general vicinity.

But this would be missing the essential part of the music: the invisible space that connects us is what turns a lot of individual notes into your favourite song.

Written by Elena Noyes, Manager - Investment Services, Creative New Zealand.

Dare Greatly

Who we are is how we lead” – Brené Brown, Dare to Lead

It was with enormous excitement and anticipation that I found myself on a glorious Auckland day walking into the first day of Retreat One of The NZ Leadership Programme - what I now know is going to be a truly transformative year.

Unbelievably, it has taken me more than five years to align everything I needed to in order that I could participate fully.  Five years!  Four children later, a few recent mid-life career crises and well in to a burning fascination with all things leadership – I know the time is right.

There were a lot of nervous people – eager but not quite sure what they are getting themselves in to.  I cannot relate – I am excited – I then worry that I can’t relate and my mind starts going flat-out to itself about perhaps I should have thought more about what was ahead and been more prepared.  Then I remember - five years – no, I am prepared – and I am ready!

What a beautiful ride the first weekend was combining getting to know plenty of extraordinary, like-minded people, celebrating the launch of the Programme, exploring the edges of our full selves and being inspired (and challenged) by generous, accomplished leaders who opened up to let us in to their worlds.

After a deeply moving Mihi Whakatau, we hit the ground running and I received another affirmation that this year was perfect and my time when it was revealed that this was the year of Daring Leadership.  I have been avidly reading Brené Brown of late and think this really is the cherry on top!  I think more deeply about this theme and my hope that it will give me a way to really own my vulnerability and courage and lead from that place whilst allowing others around me to do the same.  I am interested to see how this evolves and changes over the next ten-months!   

Having participated in a few group-oriented things over time, I was really taken aback by how quickly trust and safety was created between 36 people who had just met.  I am still in awe of this and know we are in safe hands for our journey this year with Leadership New Zealand.

I was also struck by the wonderful mix of theory, thought-provoking items (that I am still marinating on), tips and techniques to implement straight away, and a reconnection with my whole self.  It is the latter that I know is where I will harvest the gold this year.  The time is right to reconnect, recharge, reposition, reflect and let go of the many things I think about and do to myself that no longer serve me or my leadership journey.  This really is my year, for me.  And from this internal focus will come an external focus where I can powerfully be myself, for others and for my community without neglecting my own needs.

It is virtually impossible to capture everything that happened but the two things that moved me and haven’t left me was one speaker’s deep connection to a touchstone – a grounding place, a place that will sustain you.  I too have one and find myself too busy to go and reconnect.  That has changed.  The second moving moment was the realisation of how different our country could be when we do reach an alumni network of 1,000.  Why does this have to take so long? I feel compelled to do something to inspire more leaders to take this time for themselves in order that we can have more leaders being their full selves and creating a wave of positive impact.  Here’s to pulling this year towards ourselves – to stretch, grow and really know what it is to ‘Dare Greatly’ in our call to leadership. 

Written by Nicola Keen-Biggelaar, Business Manager, Helensville District Health Trust



Sustainability and the Economy - Session 5

We have now reached the point in our Leadership NZ journey, that when the group meet, it’s like connecting with old friends. The 2018 cohort met enthusiastically at the idyllic Caccia Birch House in Palmerston North in anticipation of what lay ahead. Although a little chilly, the sun was to shine on us physically and mentally throughout the next two days.

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