The Aspiring Leaders Forum (ALF) 2010 Report By Parry Spick-Walker

You may already be aware that our postgraduate student Parry Spick-Walker was fortunate enought to be selected for this annual event, this year held in Wellignton 22/25 July, and that Robert kindly agreed to sponsor his air fare to get there. Here’s his report on the experience.

The Aspiring Leaders Forum (ALF) 2010 Report
By Parry Spick-Walker
The forum?s inaugural ceremony was a string of presentations. MPs Bill English and Phil Goff presented their concept of leadership, both believing that passion was critical to the idea of leadership. Becoming a community leader is not assigned to an individual, but is inadvertently sought by the person who strives to right a wrong, or speak out against the unjust, and that a leader is not defined by their past actions, but what they stand for at that moment.
Panel discussions were then held with MPs Rodney Hide, Nikki Kaye, and Metiria Turei. They discussed their background of leadership development and the characteristics necessary for leadership. They suggested that leaders are not made of physical characteristics (big smiles and promises), but a sense of extreme commitment and passion for what they believed. Metiria said that, as a leader, it is imperative that you lead with a sense of justice, truth and courage, having the courage to stay true to your values in the face of adversity or humiliation.
Small group sessions were held with MPs, my group was privileged to have MP Eric Roy, elected member of the Invercargill Electorate and Jo Goodhew, MP for Aoraki. The focus was to discuss, as leaders, what have been their most enduring sacrifices in their roles as MPs.  Both MPs clearly indicated there is significant pressure on the family, friends, and one?s social life. Questions were asked about their values of family, i.e. can they claim to be family orientated when they seldom have family time. I felt their responses were somewhat vague, and I came to the conclusion that as a leader it is necessary to separate family and leadership, prioritizing family life and leadership duties. I think that for these MPs the latter was top of their priorities. Eric Roy said leadership can sometimes become a trap, referring to the idea that leaders are there to suggest what is best for the public, but instead the public suggest what is best, therefore not leading but guiding public opinion.
There were two formal banquets with two notable dignitaries. One was with Gareth Morgan, who suggested we remind ourselves to contrast our situation with that of the less fortunate people in the world, and to think of the role of leadership in developing countries. Theresa Gattung, former CEO of Telecom, emphasised the importance of staying honest, being a straight shooter, remaining focused, and that sacrifices are necessary in a leadership position.
In further seminars the speakers talked about the importance of one?s personal values and how important they are in community leadership. MP Gareth Hughes asked that we stay true to our convictions, even if they contradict our morals.  Former New Zealand cricketer Murphy Sua asked us to remember our family- where we come from and how they shape our future. Community leader and public speaker Nick Tuitasi asked that we remain faithful to our convictions when surrounded by personal failures and that God has a plan. Warren White, a successful real estate agent, spoke about strong values in team culture in business, suggesting it creates confident individuals that represent the business as best as possible. Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Nicola Bell asked that we be creative with our leadership and enjoy personal projects that we set out on.
In between the Speakers were small-group time focused around discussion of what are our values as aspiring leaders, and how these can be developed. A lot of personal story telling was involved; group members shared stories in their lives that had significantly impacted on them as a person. Very emotionally deep stories which took a lot of emotional energy just to listen and share. I think the idea was to make deep intimate connections and develop respect for your group members.
Overall, an insightful look into leadership seen through experienced eyes, told with plenty of anecdotes, which I enjoyed very much!
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