Fulbright New Zealand and Sir Peter Blake Trust were pleased to present the interactive event Creating Enduring Leadership hosted by Victoria University of Wellington on Wednesday 6 July.
Creating Enduring Leadership explores the leadership journey of outstanding New Zealanders.
Victoria University Public and Community Leadership Professor Brad Jackson discusses making meaningful connections and inspiring actions that have sustainable impact both here and around the world, with a panel of innovators:
Fulbright New Zealand opens doors for tomorrow’s leaders and thinkers. It is vital for New Zealand future leaders to have broad exposure to international thinking and trends, and bring their knowledge home to share.
“This partnership event is about creating enduring leadership and will explore the biggest challenges and opportunities for New Zealand leaders in a global context, including how we can connect and build scale from here,” says Fulbright New Zealand Executive Director Penelope Borland.
“Fulbright is proud to give New Zealand future leaders an enriching and life-changing exchange experience in the United States. We look forward to an interesting discussion at Creating Enduring Leadership.”
Sir Peter Blake Trust Chief Executive Shelley Campbell says, “Sir Peter showed us that with the will to succeed, the believe in achieving extraordinary things and the right team New Zealanders can achieve on a global scale. It’s important we talk about and celebrate great leadership and our place in the world to support and inspire the next generation of leaders.”
About the panellists
Summary of the talk
On July 6, Victoria University hosted a panel of four Fulbright New Zealand and Sir Peter Blake Trust award recipients, who spoke to a lecture theatre filled with students, professionals, and interested members of the public, about ‘Creating Enduring Leadership’. Fulbright New Zealand and the Sir Peter Blake Trust collaborated to bring together a panel of four New Zealand leaders to speak about their thoughts and experiences on leadership in celebration of Leadership Week 2016, #believeyoucan.
Before introducing the panelists, MC Professor Brad Jackson challenged the audience to consider the difference between leaders and leadership, emphasizing that leadership is less about the leaders and more about putting the ‘ship’ – the collective activity – within leadership first. Leadership often focuses on transformative thinking and radical change as causes of a progress in the world, ignoring the processes, activities, and institutions that endure beyond individual innovation. Professor Jackson proposed that enduring leadership is marked by what remains after the leader has gone, not what is judged in their presence.
Referred to as ‘the most creative man in New Zealand,’ Mark Pennington was the first panelist. An industrial designer, he traced his journey in the design industry and his innovation of a high performance task chair. Mr Pennington moved beyond the goal of creating a product to striving to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace. He emphasized teamwork, where individuals working to a brief were transformed through leadership to a collective involved and invested in creating the vision. Some leadership values he learnt centred around having a shared vision, which translated into shared leadership and greater success. Having a clearly defined goal and collectively-owned purpose cemented commitment, and he stressed the need to help each other, work with humility, and most importantly, have fun.
Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and founder of sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, Rachel Taulelei attributed leadership with authenticity: it is about who you are and what you represent, which in Māoridom incorporates Tupuna (ancestors). It also includes excellence (doing one’s best), action (to take the first step forward), and the clarity, conviction and courage to continue moving forward. By taking initiative to see a need in the world, then humbly paying your service forward, Ms Taulelei believed that one’s leadership would succeed. Echoing Mark’s introduction, she finished by stating “if you love what you do, it’s going to invariably end up being the best.”
Successful scholar and future Stanford University student Maia Wikaira discussed Māori values in leadership. Ms Wikaira began with a whakataukī (Māori proverb) – “Men will be lost but the land will remain” – focusing on the importance of a living legacy through leadership, especially the legacy of one’s values: ‘leaders may be lost, but you must retain their legacy.’ Ms Wikaira passionately talked about values in the broader context and her journey to learn who she was and the need for caring for one another. She illustrated leadership where having a privileged position, a greater understanding, and the ability to convey concepts creates an obligation to impart those gifts to others. Central to her discussion was the idea of ‘core and flex.’ Core is clear and convicted values that are retained, which make you who you are. Flex are things one is willing to give up; lesser values that can be sacrificed to achieve the greater goal. Understanding both is fundamental to success in leadership.
The final panelist – Sam Johnson – was founder of the Student Volunteer Army and New Zealander of the Year in 2012. Characterising the world as changing more than we can keep up, Mr Johnson emphasized the need to build, change, and grow, both individually and collectively. Vulnerability is necessary to succeed, to discover yourself and your gifts. Mr Johnson humorously discussed how his student army is comparable in task-organisation to prison workers, where the students were more effective in their work through volunteerism and shared responsibility. Exercising shared responsibility, Mr Johnson invested in building the movement, not the organisation (a gem of knowledge given to him by the Dalai Lama), to set a lasting goal and ensure people want to achieve it by putting trust in project participants and helping people have the confidence to act.
Initial reactions and questions were taken from the audience by Professor Jackson and put to the panel. Mr Pennington and Mr Johnson gave recommendations on how to motivate people, where a focused and clear purpose, and understanding how people are motivated, are key to creating enthusiasm. Ms Wikaira stressed the importance of ‘buy in’ – where a collective vision is able to be shared – and having good relationships and modelling behaviour as key to motivating people. Ms Taulelei spoke to the question of Māori leadership, explaining that success is a collective endeavour, made possible by the equality of roles and equal value placed on each. A question on leadership for the introverted was addressed by Ms Wikaira, who stated that the most profound leadership is near invisible and not acknowledged. Leaders are often seen as people with celebrity status, but leadership can be encountered in a quiet way everyday. The idea is to be comfortable with one’s own achievements and encourage others when they achieve. Mr Johnson answered the question on the challenge with intergenerational understanding and change. He cited empathy as central to building those relationships, and that understanding and cooperation happens on an issues basis. Additionally, Mr Pennington remarked that respect and humility, and the ability to listen were important to establishing good intergenerational relationships.
Victoria University Provost Professor Wendy Larner finished the evening’s proceedings, summarising the points discussed by the panelists. Professor Larner noted the shared mission to recognise and support leadership before discussing four features of enduring leadership from the evening. Leadership endures when we learn from our experiences that move across companies, countries, and communities. It is being vulnerable, learning about self worth and self identity and about the places where you can be yourself. Leadership endures when we strive to make things better, bringing people together to do things better, and sharing responsibilities, visions, and values to work together. Leadership endures when we embrace values of authenticity, humility, gratitude and empathy; doing your best, loving what you do, and settling for respect rather than an agreement. Finally, enduring leadership is about whakapapa: connecting with both the land, family, and place, and is both backward and forward looking.