Here we were.
Day one of the Opening Residential with the sun streaming across
Corio Bay, at the Committee for Geelong's Annual Leadership
Breakfast with guest speaker Richard Goyder AO. Sitting
amongst the "who's who" of Geelong, you could feel the anticipation
of what might lie ahead for the 2018/19 LfG group. Following
breakfast everyone hastily made their way out to Waurn Ponds Estate
for the obligatory photo shoot and to officially commence our LfG
Having suitably struck a pose and worked our way through some
housekeeping, everyone wrote a letter of congratulations to
themselves in regards to their personal and professional
development journey ahead for the next two years. It will be very
interesting to revisit these in two years when reflecting on what
has been achieved. Particularly given the presentations that were
to follow over the course of the day and the personal leadership
insights that were shared.
The first round of "About Me's" helped bring the group closer
together, with members of the group gaining insight into the
personal and work lives of some of our colleagues, with reflection
on childhood, families and careers. It certainly provoked some
thinking and discussion about what people might present when it is
their turn to deliver an "About Me".
Dan Simmonds then brought home the final session before lunch
with an impassioned presentation about the Committee for Geelong,
what it stands for, and their work towards Geelong being recognised
as Victoria's second city. The key messages from his presentation
was the need for strategic direction and a focus on coupling the
identification of issues and opportunities with solutions.
After a quick debrief and re-fuelling over lunch it was straight
into some positive psychology with Dr Paige Williams. This key
message was simple. As leaders we must celebrate success. Our
traditional negativity bias needs to shift from a focus on gaps and
weaknesses to 80% positive reinforcement. We even covered
Einstein's theory of fish climbing trees.
The notion of celebrating success was quickly reinforced by Brad
Clarke who asked the group to reflect on and share a personal
achievement with colleagues. This did not seem to come easy for
many, nor did the engineering skills required in the next activity
to construct towers out of marshmallows and raw spaghetti. Let's
just say success was mixed and the marshmallows were delicious.
The afternoon then concluded with either a session of relaxed
nature based therapy or a vigorous group training session to free
the mind and release any stress. The nature based therapy with Kit
Kline not only covered re-connecting with nature but also the
importance of plants in the office to help create mindfulness and
wellbeing in the workplace.
The final session of the day, following some cheeky pre-dinner
drinks, was business dining etiquette with Ana Retallack. Some
would have considered this the highlight of the day, being schooled
in such things as the proper way to approach deconstructing and
buttering a dinner roll, whilst the improper approach was on full
display as people shovelled in whole dinner rolls lathered in
lashings of butter. Or the unease with which people approached
their entrée of soup, unsure whether to start eating during the
presentation and when they did, unsure as to from which direction
they should approach their soup with the soup spoon. But everyone
managed to make it through dinner without totally disgracing
themselves with regard to etiquette. Day one then concluded with a
few more cheeky drinks before everyone retired to reflect on an
action packed day.
After a well-deserved rest, Day two began with energy and some
introspection. With a sense of comradery in the room, the session
commenced with taking the time to consider something that made us
feel good in the last 30 days, before considering and sharing our
own personal values, leadership behaviours and our current roles.
Damien O'Malley quickly won over the room with his wit and energy,
and guided us through the PRISM and ABC models on the way leaving
us with a better understanding of ourselves, our behaviours and
preferences, and more cognisant of how we can adapt those
behaviours to be more effective in our relationships with
Our collective attention was then focussed on a different
question: Why? This is a question we seldom ask ourselves (or give
myself time to consider) in the cut and thrust of a busy home and
professional life. But according to Jem Fuller, and backed by the
number of nodding heads in the room, owning and understanding our
professional purpose (beyond a salary) and connecting with the
purpose of our employers/organisations, can make all the
difference. This is something that we will certainly put more
thought and focus into in the coming months.
Whilst the day opened with introspection, it closed with
insight. Kylie Warne, charismatic and passionate Chair of the
Barwon Regional Partnership shared with us the inner workings and
focus of the Partnership, and what it means for Geelong. This was
followed by a panel discussion and networking function with recent
graduates and current members of the 2017/18 program.
Insight appears to be an emerging theme for this program, and we
look forward to the insights - both into Geelong and ourselves as
leaders - that the program will provide over the coming two