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Calm Sea
  • Writer's pictureJade Tang-Taylor

Reflections of Leadership NZ 2015

"Don’t trust anyone, who doesn’t have self doubts” – Sir Bob Harvey, founding member of Leadership NZ

It was this time last year that I felt somewhat apprehensive of embarking the Leadership NZ programme... My Curative co-founder (& bestie) Eddy Royal had already completed the programme in 2014 and was absolutely enamoured by the whole experience, and well… Let’s just say she's usually quite hard to impress.

So I knew it was going to be good... Great even! However, at that point I felt that I couldn't afford the time, energy and effort. That, and I've always had a bit of a negative reaction to the definition of 'Leadership' besides…

  • Who was I to call myself a leader?

  • What exactly am I leading?

  • Why exactly would I choose to lead? And is it a choice?

Despite all that, I decided to dive into the deep end... however, I just didn't quite expect exactly how deep it would all get. Having already worked closely with the Leadership NZ team and trustees as their creative partner for the past few years, and watching Eddy immerse herself in the programme last year, it was now my turn to experience it from the other side.

Here's a small selection of my reflections/key-takeaways from the session of Leadership NZ 2015 (LNZ15):


Exploring Leadership: The Journey, Tools, Inspiration and Connecting

Central Auckland

First day of LNZ15 felt like it was somewhat reminiscent of the first day of school, everyone was on their best behaviour, in their best smart casual attire and making their best first impression. We were being told by the LNZ14 alumni that by the end of the year we would ‘fall in love’ with everyone in the cohort, at this point we could barely remember anyone's name. But I decided to "trust the process" and place myself in the very safe hands, spiritual guidance and magical facilitation of programme director Louise Marra for the next 9 sessions.

Key takeaway for me in this session was:

"Surround yourself with truth-tellers" – wise words imparted by the enigmatic Traci Houpapa.

Truth-tellers are people that tell you the absolute truth regardless of how much it might hurt or cause discomfort in the short-term, but endlessly support you and your journey in the long-term.


A Civil Society – Our Roots, Our History


Key takeaway:

"Have a strong vision, look forward to the future, but don't forget about your past" – George Riley

Take the time to learn, know and truly understand where you come from… More importantly, where your worldview comes from, whether it may be influenced by conscious/unconscious biases.


A Civil Society – Our People

South Auckland

Key takeaway:

"Be aware of the energy you take into a room… What energy are you bringing into your work, life, etc?” – Louise'isms


Our Economy

Palmerston North

Key takeaway:

“We all have something to bring to the table” – Mavis Mullens


Sustaining our Wellbeing and Values

Christchurch & Hanmer Springs

Key takeaway:

“Sustainability is more than the environment and economics” – Sir Tipene O’Regan

“Leaders are traders in dreams… Unless you have followers, you’re not a leader... And followers want to share the aspiration/dream” – Sir Tipene O’Regan


Forces that Shape Our Thinking

Auckland, Q Theatre

Key takeaway:

“Are we really in control of the forces that shape our thinking?" - Louise'isms
"If our thinking helps us to see… Can we be free enough with our thinking to see ourselves?” - Louise'isms

Which actually reminds me of another profound quote I heard earlier in the year

“What you see, depends on where you sit.”


Governance in the 21st Century


Key takeaway:

For me, this was a thought-provoking & playful session, which posed the provocative question:

"How do you use your power?" – Christian Penney


Fearless & Shameless Leadership


Upon reflection, this session was definitely a session filled with fear and shame… However, as exposing as it was, it was also incredibly empowering, and I felt I was in a very safe space to share, to be vulnerable, and brave.

I also learnt a lot about my fears, my fear of failure and what keeps driving those fears. Quite a confronting exercise to say the least…

Key takeaway:

Who are we when we’re our deepest self? - Louise'isms

And also shared the Tale of two wolves:

Which wolf wins? The one you feed most...


Tying the threads together


9 sessions, 19 days, 456+ hours later and hate to admit, but they were right… I was definitely starting to fall in love (in a non-creepy way ;)) with many people from the cohort. It was the coming together of issues, ideas, frantic card-writing and most importantly our performance piece for graduation.

We were warmly welcome into the alumni from the previous years’ participants, and even heard from the inspirational founder herself, Jo Brosnahan about her ‘MyLife’, about her vision for LeadershipNZ, and about a better NZ.

Key takeaway:

"How do we be our wisest self in this crazy world. And learn to live in the space of discomfort, and leverage the energy" – Louise'isms

Overall, the Leadership NZ experience was unlike any other professional development programme I had been on. Upon reflection it was definitely more like personal development... A deepening experience of the soul, an awakening of the heart and an enlightening of the mind. One where I'm equipped with tips and techniques in my lil toolbox to adapt to both my personal/professional settings and life for whatever the future might hold.

Much gratitude to the wahine toa of Leadership NZ; thank you for the opportunity, thank you to my friends and family for supporting me on this journey, to Eddy and the whole Curative crew for endlessly supporting me at work, to my husband Adam for always supporting me at home and of course, special thanks to everyone in the LNZ15 cohort for making our year the best year ever!*

*Til next year that is...


Jade TT :)xo

Our Leadership NZ 2015 cohort at the Graduation Ceremony! (Q Theatre, November 2015) More Graduand biographies and reflections »

NB: Applications for the Leadership NZ 2016 programme are now closed, but if you feel this is a personal/professional journey you might like to embark on in the future... Feel free to come and talk to me (or Eddy) about our experience, and we might just give you a sip of the LNZ cool-aid ;)


Originally published on the Curative blog, December 2015

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