Tena koutou. Tena koutou. Tena koutou katoa
I envy the year ahead of the 2019 “crew” and can only wish you the best of the year ahead, as being with Leadership NZ alumni is special.
Working with Leadership NZ alumni is a gift. If I had my way, I would have an entire company full of teams of Leadership NZ experienced employees making decisions. There is a way of thinking, an openness of mind, an ability to question that is noticeable post-The New Zealand Leadership Programme – which is valuable to individuals, communities and to business.
Prior to my current role at Counties Power, I had four out of six of my direct reports who were Leadership NZ alumni. This was very powerful. We successfully used methods and techniques and ways of thinking that were learned through the Programme. We drove very strong positive outcomes and we were respected for our strong team culture and values.
In my current role at Counties Power, there are already two of us on the leadership team who are alumni and I am delighted that Conrad Harvey, our CFO and a key member of the leadership team, is on the Programme this year…we are building critical mass and there is no limit to what we will aspire to achieve.
Counties Power is one of 29 electricity distribution network companies. We have a reputation for punching well above our weight - for several reasons. The first is our ambition – we will transform the way customers and community engage with energy to live “best lives”. In the last year, we have re-shaped much of what was a traditional mindset. We dare to be bold and we dare to be diverse in an industry which in the past, has had a very traditional mindset. We are the only company who’s board has appointed a woman CEO, not once, but twice, and we have a leadership team of diverse thinkers and experience.
When Judy Whiteman advised that the theme for this year was “daring leadership”, it took me back to the game played at school in my day, of Truth, Dare or Promise. And it made me think about the insights, take outs and skills that I gained from the 2010 Programme under each of these headings.
It also made me take a fairly deep breath, as I know what speaking at Leadership NZ really means. It means forget the annual report statistics, forget profit and loss, forget strategy. It means you get to conduct a little open heart surgery on yourself in public. It means being vulnerable, authentic and strangely anchored.
So, back to the Truth, Dare and Promise take outs from the 2010 Programme:
For Truth, I reflected on the fact that I was often petrified that I wouldn’t understand the topics, I wouldn’t get my readings done and that I would be out of my depth in parts of the Programme. And I joyously was. Its where the learning was the richest. I learned to question the truth, learned there is no such thing as one truth and learned to understand the truth – whatever that means.
For Promise, I made a personal promise to ask the right questions, to take the helicopter up high on an issue and to listen. One of the questions that had a major impact on me during the 2010 programme was the question often asked, whether NZ is the world, or NZ is in the world. Depending on your answer, your decisions and behaviours change. This question guided early meetings at Counties Power – we discussed whether Counties Power was the world, or whether Counties Power was in fact part of the wider world – and again, the decisions we collectively made for the company reflected the strength of our understanding on both of these questions.
For Dare, I dared to believe that there was no age limit on becoming a CEO, that my use-by date was only in my own head, and dared to back myself and lead in the only way I know how – through and with people, managing my public introvert/private extrovert reality and seeking the best for others, for the business and for myself. The inspiration of Leadership NZ is to listen to the dares of others, work with daring visions and support teams who aren’t afraid to “bring it” time after time.
For the 2019 cohort, I don’t know what your personal dares are. I simply believe if they are meaningful, then they count. NZ needs leaders who are not afraid to dare and to dare with meaning and purpose.
Tena Koutou. Tena koutou. Tena tatou katoa
JUDY NICHOLL (NZ Leadership Programme 2010 Alumna) is Chief Executive of Counties Power. Address delivered at the NZ Leadership Programme 2019 Launch. KPMG. Auckland, New Zealand. February 14 2019.