#22 Be. Leadership October 2014 - Our people

by Lucy Croft

I was eager to get into the 'Be' routine as I walked through the doors of Le Va on Friday morning. I'd missed the last session, and consequently was rearing to see everyone again. It was a homecoming of sorts, as we hadn’t all been together in two months. We were a loud, dysfunctional family that somehow gelled together.

This session, titled 'Our People', was a very pensive, reflective couple of days. We tackled New Zealand's 'hot' topic – not the Whittakers Chocolate Milk craze, but child poverty. We heard from Dianne Robertson (CEO of the Auckland City Mission), Vaughan Couillaut (Principal of James Cook High School), and Dr Justine Cornwall (Deputy Children's Commissioner). All three speakers gracefully and assertively spoke about child poverty, and added personal insights into the issue.

One key aspect of the weekend which stood out to me was reframing the idea of child poverty. All three speakers spoke about family poverty being the crux of child poverty, and the importance of holistic solutions. Family poverty is not caused by one factor; it is the compounding effect of different societal factors. Although Dianne, Vaughan and Justine clearly had different leadership styles, they all stressed the importance of collective impact. No one person can lead the charge against child poverty alone. It needs to be people from different arenas; the media, the politicians, the academics, the social workers, the teachers… everyone can be the change.

While we were reflecting on the speakers, someone asked, "Why are we asking what they [the speakers] are doing, when we should be asking what WE'RE doing?" This was a pivotal point in the weekend’s conversation for me. All of the lessons of resilience, passion, engagement and leadership that we had learnt over the weekend could be taken on board to guide our own leadership journeys.

Before we wrapped up the weekend, we have one last individual reflection session. We were asked to consider our unconscious and conscious thoughts – our beliefs, values, and attitudes versus our behaviours and actions. It’s the iceberg model – what you show others compared to what is hidden only to yourself. I'm still considering what my beliefs and values are now, and how they correspond to my actions.

I think this shows how leadership is a constant process, always malleable. It’s also important to know yourself as a leader. After all, leadership isn’t just a role in a company, it's an action in society. As I walked out of the doors on Saturday afternoon, I took with me the importance of being accountable for my own actions. I also took with me the idea that societal change can start from the bottom – I don't have to be the prime minister to help mitigate family poverty. Ultimately, this session was empowering, and I await the final session with both excitement and trepidation.