Be. Leadership December 2016: The Year in Review

by Red Nicholson
What a year 2016 has been. Donald Trump was elected President, the UK left the EU, and 15 comparatively unremarkable individuals graduated from the Be. Leadership programme. As inappropriate as it may seem to draw an equivalence between these events, I can't help but wonder if the history books may celebrate our cohort of graduates as a shining light amongst the gloom that seemed to permeate a fairly miserable year.
Let's start at the beginning. Twelve months ago, we came together for the first time, nervous and fidgety. Sizing each other up, looking each other down, all the while wondering if we should even be here at all. Who am I? What on earth is leadership? Who invited the American guy? And then, "Just do the damn readings", implored the inimitable Lesley Slade. Clearly we weren't here to muck around. We were here to become leaders.
To support our leadership journey, we were given the opportunity to listen to and interrogate some incredible New Zealanders. We were spellbound as Margaret Jefferies explained how the town of Lyttelton continued to thrive during the Canterbury Earthquakes through the use of a time bank; we wept as Penny Hulse spoke about the raw humanity that she brings every day to her life in the public service; and we nodded in fervent agreement as Anna Stove celebrated her substitution of 'busy-ness' with 'remarkable time'. It's the kind of extraordinary experience that you take for granted while you're in it, but once it's over, you wish for nothing more than for it to begin again.
Over the course of the programme we were often made to feel uncomfortable. We were even encouraged to make each other feel uncomfortable. As the year progressed, we began to understand that unless we challenged one another, unless we were prepared to be vulnerable, we wouldn't experience any growth. Because while the leadership programme aimed to enhance our leadership capacity, it was, more than anything, a journey of personal growth. Becoming more self-aware. Discovering how to have courageous conversations. Shifting from a blame mindset to one of opportunity. Developing a congruence between our actions and our values.
But like all good things, our journey has come to an end. The onus is now on us, as a group, to do this programme justice. To be active in our communities, to begin new conversations, and to keep nudging the world forward. On behalf of the 2016 Be. Leaders, I’d like to acknowledge all the wonderful people who offered their time to speak, listen, and engage with us; the amazing staff at the Sudima and CQ Hotels; and, of course, our 'mains' (this is actually a word, I learnt it from the kids at school -
apparently, it means crew, posse, etc.), Lesley, Philip, Sam, Hannah, and Michelle. We owe you everything, and we will not let you down.
Watch this space.