Be.Leadership 2019: Session 5 - Global Citizenship

by Adele Thomas

Session Five on Global Citizenship was held in Auckland at the Sudima Hotel in Auckland.  Its a nice venue and now quite familiar to us all. The food is always great, and I for one, overeat no matter what I tell myself beforehand about moderation!

This was our first weekend in our new syndicates, and despite being sad about leaving those safe little havens we had nutured, I think we coped very well and settled right in with our new team members.

We had three speakers over two days. The first was Rod Oram. Rod is an international business journalist, currently working as a columnist for the Sunday Star Times, a television and radio broadcaster, a frequent public speaker on sustainability, business, economics, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship among many other things. Rod spoke about the importance of being a leader in your community, your street, your workplace. He suggested that global citizenship is what you do as an individual as opposed to global leadership which has an international sphere of influence. He spoke of NZ as a country in global leadership and that although we are a very small part of the world in population, physically we are a large part when you consider the vast oceans that surround us. NZ has a big sphere of influence in that respect.

My syndicate, ‘The A Team’, hosted our second speaker of the day, Dr Andrew Codling. Andrew is the Head of the Vice Chancellors Office at the Auckland University of Technology and has spent his entire career in the tertiary education sector. I didn’t take notes during Andrews speech as I was the chair, but do remember speaking with him about global leadership and his time in the Middle East, where awareness of the local culture and differences between the many expatriate cultures, needed to be understood, respected and taken into consideration on any collaborative initiatives.

We also spoke about how global citizenship was not being promoted in education and how, today, the need for an education that directly leads to a job, represents a decline in the number of humanity courses being offered.

At the end of day one, those not staying on for dinner, departed for the night.  Unlike Wellington, where the evenings were very social, mostly because the majority of us were out of towners and also because we were staying right in the heart of the city. I think Wellington and karaoke is always going to be the standout weekend for me!

Day two we had some robust conversation, before our third and final speaker of the weekend, Amanda Judd. I remember reading her bio prior to the weekend and admit to thinking I might not be quite as inspired by her talk. How wrong I was! Amanda was brilliant and so full of energy. I personally found her really inspiring and resonated with her “lean in with your best self and contribute” attitude. Her attitude is to just show up and do it and that will make people aware of things they may not have been aware of and may change the way they think.  Amanda is passionate about lots of things around sustaining our planet and I especially loved hearing about the farm forests and urban farming initiatives happening all over New Zealand. She gave me hope.

Other readings around this topic led me to that concur that citizenship is acquired by pursuing an openminded interest in the world, cultures and people. To be a global citizen is to honour one’s origins, remain non-judgmental and be open to difference.

Jim Kouzes, a renowned leadership expert, suggests that “while the content of leadership has remained the same over the past 20 years, the context has not.” He says that for leaders to be successful today, they must master global business acumen, a global mindset and global citizenship.

Kouzes believes that a global mindset includes the ability to see beyond the boundaries, to envision and communicate the ultimate contribution and value of the work to society and sustainability. Global leadership must adopt a flexible, adaptable and curious way of looking at things and see difference in others not only as acceptable, but as preferable. Every act of leadership today must be described and measured through the lens of the global mindset.

All in all, I found this weekend really resonated with me and found the speakers fascinating.

We finished day two with some more ‘my journey’ stories, including my own. In the very recent past, I would have been extremely nervous sharing information in a group setting, public speaking not being my thing at all. However, I was surprised at how relaxed and easy it was for me, which I consider a testament to the amazing comraderie of this particular group of people, who have very quickly become my trusted friends.

Looking forward to session six in Christchurch 😊