#52 Are you ready for leadership development?

Be. Leadership logo with tagline, Be. the Change and a picture of a yellow arrow signpost in the middle of the forest

Are you ready for leadership development?

Many of you probably don’t know the full ‘story’ behind the Be. Leadership programme, the why and how of its creation, and the people who breathed life into it when it was just a tiny seed of poss-ability. Let me share that story with you now, as I think it is an important and timely story to share…

Minnie interviewing Lesley about Be. Leadership - click to watch videoIn 2006, I was in Melbourne for work and found myself coincidentally attending the launch of Leadership Plus, a leadership programme for people with disabilities and an offshoot of the extremely well-respected organisation, Leadership Victoria. I had never heard of anything like this and was amazed to learn of this extraordinary opportunity for personal and leadership development.

Even though the programme was taking place in Melbourne, I was so captivated by the inspiring vision and calibre of the program that I was determined to attend and if necessary to fund my own participation in the programme and fly to Australia each month (and not just for the shopping!) to take part. To my disappointment, the programme director informed me that it was only open to Australian citizens, however as fate would have it, he pointed me in the direction of a woman named Lesley Slade whom I would later discover to be a dear friend and inspiring leadership mentor!

Lesley had just played a key role in setting up and was now running Leadership New Zealand, closely modelled on the Leadership Victoria and Leadership Plus programmes. And while Leadership New Zealand wasn’t a specific programme for people with disabilities, it had that same incredible depth of learning that I was desperately hungry for!

Soon after, I became what was possibly the first person with a disability to take part in the LNZ programme, and it was an utterly life changing year of growth and learning for me.

However during that year, I became more and more aware of the fact that well-resourced, high quality leadership development seemed to be so inaccessible to so many amazing leaders with disability across New Zealand, whether financially or for other access reasons. I knew so many people who through circumstance had been thrown into very challenging leadership roles but often with little or no leadership development, leadership support or at times with even a strong sense of their own personal leadership style and potential to grow.

I saw people burning out, and still do, from the huge weight many people carry when trying to advance a better world for all. I also saw the tall poppy syndrome in full glory, tearing down some of our most talented and passionate people. I, and others, wanted to find a way to ensure leaders with disability not only had every opportunity to succeed and thrive, but who could also model a resilient community of great leadership for the next generation.

So while working at Auckland Council, we engaged Lesley to investigate what would be needed for Auckland to step up to the accessibility leadership challenge, and create a community of leaders that could take New Zealand on a journey towards becoming a truly accessible country.

Through Lesley’s skill and guidance, a series of forums were held where more than a hundred people from across Auckland gathered over 4 months, to discuss and explore the best way to grow a healthy leadership community for New Zealand. Philip Patston, Lesley Slade and myself became the guardians of that vision and began a journey to bring that vision to life. Be. Leadership was the direct result of these forums, and was born out of the call of a community believing in a better world and a better way of doing things.

From there the nationwide programme has almost had a life of its own and has attracted incredible support including from our very own Minister Turia! Whilst it is modelled on the extremely well-respected and successful Leadership Victoria and Leadership New Zealand programmes, Be. Leadership is quite unique!

Be. Leadership provides an authentic and accessible space for a deep program of leadership development that is tailored to the challenges of leading a more accessible world in the 21st Century. Each programme year is filled with rich learning and opportunities for reflection, imagination and innovation. Through the course of the year the leadership participants have the unique opportunity to delve into deep conversation with many of our countries finest leaders from across the private sector, government and community, as well as leaders from justice, the arts, media and civil society!

I know that in the extremely fast-paced world that we live in, we often feel that further education and development programmes won’t fit in with our career, family and community commitments. However ironically, these are the times when we actually need to stop and reflect the most…

The Be. Leadership programme really is a gift; how many countries around the world are fortunate enough to have a programme like this? It  is an opportunity to challenge ourselves to think differently and become more effective and fulfilled in both our professional and personal lives. Even if we have been in leadership roles for many years the need to learn and grow never stops, it only deepens.

But don’t just take my word for it; watch this video interview with Lesley Slade, one of our two Be. Leadership Programme Directors and one of the finest leaders I know, to learn more about the calibre of the programme and the kinds of life changing opportunities it creates.

So to answer my own question in the title of this blog, ‘are you ready for leadership development?’, I remind you of a great quote from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

..and remember, who knows where a program like this might lead you, or might lead us… let's all Be. the Change we want to see in the world!

Minnie b.

Apply for the 2013 Be. Leadership Programme NOW!