Be. Leadership February 2017: Leadership – What is it and why me?

by Natalie Brunzel

Filled with trepidation and a feeling of slight inadequacy before entering the first Be. Leadership retreat of the year, I suddenly remembered Donald Trump is President! If Trump taught us anything it's that, sometimes, you just need to dare to put yourself out there. Crazy things can happen. With this in mind, I entered the room. Looking around, I was put immediately at ease. I knew at least two people and there were familiar names floating around too. Taking a few deep breaths, we went around the room introducing ourselves with an object that we had brought with us. The object represented something about us. The honesty with which everyone embraced this challenge set the scene for the rest of the weekend.

After we had some time together the first speaker who was introduced to us was Minnie Baragwanath, Chief Executive of Be. Accessible. Her bubbly personality was infectious and she continued the theme of honesty and vulnerability, sharing her struggles as well as her triumphs. At times things became a little intense so some of the participants asked questions such as, "Where did you buy your lipstick?" to lighten the mood as well as allowing Minnie to show her fun side.

The Friday session was capped off by two members of the Be. Leadership Alumni joining the conversation and giving us their perspective. It was wonderful to be able to ask people who had done this all before questions.

The fun continued with the programme launch. More members of the alumni came and one stopped me and said, "Natalie remember be bold, be stroppy this is the one place where you can try ideas out! I wish I had realised that at the beginning." This was a breath of fresh air and something I will be carrying with me for the rest of the year.

The Saturday session began in our syndicates, talking about leadership and our learning so far. The first order of the day was to prepare questions for our next speaker, Auckland’s former Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse. She shared her passion for the community and how her vision for a better Auckland was what drove her forward. This resonated with everyone as it is sometimes easy to be sucked into the dramas presenting themselves rather than holding onto the big picture, pushing towards a dream and keeping that in the front of your mind, no matter what happens.

In my personal reflections, I realise that perhaps I haven't been thinking big enough. I found Penny truly inspiring. Not just because of her achievements but her honesty about some of the choices and decisions she has had to make for the community. These haven't always made her popular but she has shown integrity and grit.

We finished off the day by learning more about ourselves. Prior to the weekend, we had all completed the Myers Briggs Personality Profile. This was the moment we would all find out who we really were – or, perhaps, time to realise how little we really knew about ourselves. However, instead of just being given the results we were taken through what each personalities characteristic were and asked to write down what we thought. This meant we not only had the opportunity to self-assess, but also the ability to truly learn about the various personality styles. This was powerful because it helped us to identify other people's personality traits and enhance our skills to adapt our own behaviours to understand others better.

There was plenty of laughter and fun for the rest of the night and the next day. Everyone acknowledging their weakness and strengths without prejudice. It was eye opening to notice that the diversity of personalities of the group was what strengthened it. Knowledge is power but seeing it being utilised in this instant was brilliant.

The weekend wasn't just the perfect introduction to the programme, it highlighted the privilege of having the opportunity to join such an esteemed alumni when we graduate at the end of the year. I'm grateful for the workshops and the learning that I will be gaining from my colleagues and those involved in Be. Leadership over the year.