In order to capture the continuous impact the Tasmanian Leaders Program has on participants we recently commissioned Polly McGee to write some case studies on a diverse selection of graduates. We hope they provide great insight into the personal and professional benefits of the program. If you would like to speak to a member of our Alumni directly to find out more about the opportunity please contact our General Manager, Angela Driver on 0417 379 703 to organise.
Susan Moore is a PR executive for global consulting firm Gartner Inc., who moved to Tasmania to remote work, managing a team of international staff from her property in Franklin. Embracing the lifestyle Tasmania had to offer, there was no impediment in her move to continuing on her career trajectory, except that she felt that while her lifestyle was vibrant, her career had stalled.
“I had only been in Tasmania for a couple of years when I saw the Tasmanian Leaders Program mentioned on Twitter and checked out the web site. I was at a stage in my career where I felt I wasn’t learning and growing as much as I wanted and felt I needed a good kick in the backside. I have worked in marketing and communications in the technology industry for 20 years, so I was attracted to TLP for the opportunity to learn from people from outside my profession and industry. I have had internal management training at Gartner, but saw this as something completely different.”
Susan had developed a pretty good network in the Huon Valley where she lived, but knew few people elsewhere in Tasmania. TLP was a window to understand her chosen home better. As a remote worker, the face to face contact was an attractive component of the program. A chance conversation with TLP Alumni Nick Haddow convinced Susan that TLP was what she was looking for, “it sounded amazing, so I applied.”
The Tasmanian Leaders Program often reveals self awareness in unexpected ways. Susan found insight about herself, and others during the sessions – and outside the formal processes. “One of the people in my group had worked in the government and community sectors and we spoke a totally different language. I found it really hard to understand what she meant. I felt constantly frustrated and I’m guessing she probably felt the same way about me.
“During one of the car journeys home from a TLP linking session, I discovered we had something in common in our personal lives and suddenly we didn’t seem that different after all. It showed me that we all share the same basic hopes, dreams, fears and challenges and it really helps to look at things that way when I feel frustrated by how someone behaves. As a result of being exposed to many different views during TLP I am now a lot less confident that I’m right about anything. And that’s a good thing. There is more than one answer.”
TLP offered Susan the opportunity to see herself as others do. “It was an eye opener for me to learn that some people might find my direct style a little scary, but that others appreciated how I keep things on track and move things forward when needed. I learnt that leadership is all about stepping up. Leaders are people who put their hand up, see a need, make things happen and take others with them on the journey.
“I didn’t feel like a ‘leader’ when I started TLP but now I have the confidence and courage to know I can lead. I learned that I need to speak up and step up sooner and not hold back as I might prefer to. I now see that leadership isn’t for the select few, it’s up to everyone to exercise personal leadership.”
The program has helped Susan in her current role, finding the skills she has learned are a boon to her work managing her internal team in three different countries as well as external international PR agency teams, “TLP gave me the chance to think about how I support them to achieve their own goals and has made me a better coach. Last year I had the opportunity to receive feedback on my management style from them and I was really happy with what came back. I step out of my comfort zone more to ask questions and build relationships. I also speak up and take charge more”.
Through completing the program, Susan has strengthened her relationship with her global team, but has also become closer to her professional community in Tasmania. “In the near term I am keen to grow as member of the Asia Pacific leadership team at Gartner and still have lots of ideas to implement. I am involved in two PR industry bodies which I see as important for the future of the profession.”
Longer term, she aspires to contribute to the growth of the private sector in Tasmania, whether this is through a leadership role in a private sector organisation or by starting her own business is yet to be determined. “I know I have not quite found my niche yet but whatever I decide, I know I can give it a go, armed with tools, tips, skills and a network from TLP.”
The cherry on the top of her year at TLP was being given a very special accolade, “at the end of the TLP year, my group said they liked how ‘Tasmanian’ I am! I took that as a great compliment.”
Stuart Wiggins considered himself to be a good lieutenant, a solid private sector 2IC who got things done and was a skilled management wingman. When he returned to Tasmania from the mainland, he saw the Tasmanian Leaders Program as an opportunity to build networks and re-establish corporate ties. He had no idea that it would transform his identity, change his worldview and ultimately lead to a role as CEO.
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program made me ask the question of myself: How could you be more? I hadn’t ever thought about being more, I was just a boots-and-all management guy. The first few months of the program broke down who we were, it let me really evaluate who I was and what I wanted. Toward the end of these sessions I suddenly had that ‘a-ha’ moment when I realised I could be something different, something bigger, something better.”
“I had spent my whole career in the private sector, I held attitudes like many people about public servants being less productive, and those in the not-for-profit sector not really being part of the engine room of the economy. I was really astounded by the diversity of my peer group and how amazing they were. I saw what they did, and the value it brought to Tasmania. I was in awe of them.”
“As my own preconceptions were lifted, and my values and motivations revealed, it changed the way I performed. I grew confident. I remember standing up to the CEO of the company I then worked for and was able to put forward a strong and convincing argument at a very difficult time in the business. This moment of courage in my convictions changed the view and direction of management, and I realised that I had a valuable contribution to make.”
Stuart’s act of bravery in that board meeting, based on his authentic values, had made a difference to him, but had also begun to build his reputation in Tasmania as an executive with integrity and grit who stuck around when things were tough. He became known as an empathetic leader who put the good of the business and staff at the centre of the decision making process.
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program was central to this behavioural shift. I had learnt that the situation doesn’t define you; your behaviour in the situation is what’s important. The volatility I may once have had under fire was softened with my new self-awareness. I was able to accept what I once would have seen as failure, as simply a different outcome than expected, and this change in my approach made me more flexible in my management.”
“The decision to apply for the role of CEO at Metro Tasmania when it was suggested was easy. It was less money than I could achieve in the private sector, but I knew how important reliable public transport is to the community. Here was a chance to put my management and leadership skills into action, and at the same time do something that can make a profound difference to many people’s lives. The recruitment panel acknowledged that my reputation and my work in the previous job preceded me, and my appointment was undoubtedly a result of the way the Tasmanian Leaders Program transformed my leadership style.”
“My growth hasn’t stopped with the program, it’s continual, and as I grow, I hope the Tasmanian community grows and is strengthened by what I do.”
Jen Edis arrived in Tasmania with a purpose. She wanted to start a community farmers’ market in Launceston. It was a simple, vivid, driven vision.The creation of the farmers’ market wasn’t about a career; Jen’s priorities were community and family. She had only just moved to Tasmania with her husband and two children when she heard an interview on the radio about the Tasmanian Leaders Program and knew this would be the vehicle through which the farmers’ market concept could begin.
“I didn’t have a career at the time. I was pregnant with my third child. I arrived here without a network. I thought initially I was an outlier in the program – I wasn’t having a career change or step up in an organisation, I just wanted to do something for the community.”
“My transformation through the Tasmanian Leaders Program came early on when I learned who I was. I definitely had a worldliness, having worked and lived overseas for a number of years, but my self-awareness needed the critical interrogation the program provided.”
“In the program, I learned to love my weaknesses. This was pivotal. By knowing what I did and didn’t do well, I was able to surround myself with people who had complementary strengths to me. In doing so, I created a team that was whole, with a vision, values and a purpose. It’s not just understanding who you are, it’s also understanding who other people are and how they work.”
Jen built a management committee through the Tasmanian Leaders Program approach of having a connected complementary group with a single vision of delivering an outcome.
“In starting the market, one of the key committee members had totally opposite skills to me. Without her and her meticulous eye for detail and documentation, I would still be sitting at home, frustrated that I couldn’t get the market started on my own.”
Jen had come to the state with a baseline of a strong connection to Tasmania and a desire to contribute, which was amplified by the experience of the TLP.
“I’ve had the best six years of my life here. I feel more Tasmanian than I did Victorian or any of the other places I’ve lived and worked for stretches of time. I feel enormous gratitude to the program for the people I met, the networks, and the learning and development opportunities.”
“The market has been going for four years now, and I can see the enormous gains that have been made. I never conceived of the economic benefits that would flow to the region – and the value-adding that so many of the initial stallholders have now applied to their businesses.”
“I use what I learned in the program all the time, every day, in all situations. Understanding people is a gift: the way they can contribute, what they need and valuing their unique capacity.”
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program made an investment in me, and this spurred my determination to work through any impediment to get the project done. At the launch of the Harvest Market I looked around thought ‘What on earth am I doing?’ but I knew whatever happened next, I had a great group of people around me and I could take the risk.”
“The market is a reflection of the stallholders, volunteers and the community support. The committee and managers are gently wrapped around this with governance, strategy and operational support. It’s definitely a community farmers’ market.”
A drive to understand how to ‘do’ leadership whilst steering the ship of an emerging iconic Tasmanian food brand was the motivator for Bruny Island Cheese Co. founder Nick Haddow to commit to the Tasmanian Leaders Program.
“I knew how to make cheese, I could learn how to run a fast growing business, but I really had no idea of what my role as a leader was within the business.”
The Tasmanian Leaders Program was Nick’s choice because of the emphasis on Tasmania. He is a staunch believer in giving back to the community he loves: both Tasmania more broadly, and Bruny Island as the remote location of his production facility and brand anchor. It was also a program that he could fit in amongst the other competing priorities in his business and family.Nick’s transformation within the Tasmanian Leaders Program began almost instantly through an incident that still makes him cringe, but graphically showed him the purpose of the program.
“I was participating in a team building activity in one of the first sessions – I became frustrated with the time it was taking for the group to get the task done and I stepped in to ‘fix’ it. It was such an awful display of leadership, and I was utterly disappointed in myself. That moment made me realise not only what leadership is, but the person I needed to be, in order to be the leader I wanted to be.”
“What they don’t tell you about the Tasmanian Leaders Program is what happens outside and around the formal sessions. The time spent talking with people in the program, the car pool rides and long discussions, the offline chats during the year. These are the ‘water cooler’ moments, the value of which you can’t measure.”
Bruny Island Cheese has undergone significant transformation in the years since Nick Haddow completed the Tasmanian Leaders Program. He has brought a visibility and voice to artisan cheese and Tasmanian produce and is a high profile ambassador for the state. In 2013, Bruny Island Cheese won the Telstra Australian Business of the Year. It was the culmination of ten years of work in the business and a huge learning curve delivered by the Tasmanian Leaders Program.
“The TLP absolutely contributed to that award. The massiveness of that moment and what it meant for me, and for Bruny Island Cheese, there is no question of the role the program had in my personal and professional development.”
Nick has recently taken on investment partners in Bruny Island Cheese to enable its ongoing growth, a quantum shift for the founder and leader of such a personal brand and product. He credits the skills learned in the Tasmanian Leaders Program with his capacity to not only ask himself the tough questions about whether he was ready to bring others into the business, but answer them honestly when evaluating whether he was personally ready to expand .
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program has been fundamental to me and the business. An MBA might have made me a better businessman, a personal development course would have deepened my personal skills. The TLP has made me a better everything.”
Ginna Webster was at a crossroads. Her senior public service role had become routine, her ambition was flat-lining and she had a sense that she needed something, but didn’t know what – or even what the opportunities could be.When Ginna applied to the Tasmanian Leaders Program, it was with the desire to use the program and its tools as the divining rod that would reveal what was next in her professional story.
“I chose the program specifically because of the learning style it used. I didn’t want chalk and talk. I knew I wanted to address personal challenges and understanding myself and my values was a critical part of the process of change.”
“After the first linking session, my journey was very clear. I realised I wasn’t ambivalent about my job, I was a passionate defender of the public sector. I could see its significance to individuals and to Tasmania. I also saw how my skills were not only relevant, but that I could – and would – add value and vision to those around me.”
With renewed purpose, Ginna was able to harness the tools and models used in the Tasmanian Leaders Program and integrate them into her management practice.
“I apply the tools of the program every day. When I’m mentoring my team, when I’m in meetings and working with stakeholders, the ability to think and act cohesively enables much better outcomes. Decisions are made quickly, efficiently and decisively as a group, which means they are implemented more effectively with everyone on the same page.”
The clarity around Ginna’s personal values and objectives were a transformational moment during the program. Knowing what fired her passion underpinned her career choices and management style. The program’s peer group provided a network of people who became, and remain, trusted friends and mentors.
“I was walking to my car after a TLP residential, chatting with one of my group. She asked me what I was going to do, and I said ‘I think I want to be a Deputy Secretary.’ There it was. I’d said it out loud, so I had to do it.”
“The week after the residential, I told my boss about my career ambitions and what I wanted to achieve. The Department was able to see the value I added to their executive team and I embraced opportunities that would help me achieve my goal.”
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program gave me the confidence to not only back myself, but to say no when opportunities were offered that didn’t meet my values or take me closer to my goal. There is a big difference going into a job interview where you can confidently show and tell your plan for the position and the organisation.”
“You can’t be a leader of one. In the Tasmanian Leaders Program, I gained insight into the power of diversity and the benefits of using the wisdom of the group. I apply this to my community work and my public sector role. I might be in a position where I am leading and facilitating, but everyone is working equally together for the outcome.”
“Now I go to work every day and I make a difference I can quantify. I try to give my staff and my community support to see the power each one of them has to lead and make change and that every action we take can ultimately contribute to building a stronger more resilient Tasmania.”
The vision Guy Robertson had for Mt Gnomon Farm was enormous, encompassing almost every part of the supply chain of sustainable farming, production and regional economic development. Leaving his secure job to fully focus on realising the potential of the business could have been overwhelming, but Guy decided to do it alongside his participation in the Tasmanian Leaders Program.“I guess I didn’t really see myself as a leader, but I looked up to other leaders in the community, I wanted to be a role model, and I knew I could become that person for others with a bit more experience.”“The idea of forming networks with other Tasmanians launching out on their own big journeys was important to me. I wanted to meet people from all around Tasmania, I wanted to share my vision and get their input.”“The Tasmanian Leaders Program builds your strengths. It layers knowledge, experience and advice from influential leaders until you have the confidence to explore other opportunities, to be bold and to more importantly be brave. You become comfortable with yourself and the bigger concept of what leadership can be.”
Of all the tools and lessons of leadership in the Tasmanian Leaders Program, the ability to understand his own personality type and how he best works with others was the missing link for Guy. This was the key to unlocking capability by assembling the type of people he needed on his team to complement his skills.
“In the program I saw so many people that were prepared to take risks. As the Mt Gnomon Farm business was developing, there were several opportunities where I could have taken a safer path, but it would have ultimately been a limitation. I trusted my judgement, and sought help from the people around me to check in with my gut feelings.”
The social inclusion sessions and meetings with diverse industry and sector leaders around Tasmania cemented for Guy that he wanted to be giving his all in regional Tasmania, and building up the North West of the state.
“What I experienced during the TLP showed me that I am in a privileged position to be able to contribute – not everyone can. It’s not up to our politicians, it’s up to us to show leadership and make a difference now. I learned that I didn’t have to wait to do something.”
Guy is a self-confessed big thinker and optimist, who doesn’t naturally work to schedules or systems. Rather than taking on specific models or modules from the program, the imprint from the Tasmanian Leaders Program on his approach to leadership is much more sensory.
“Since I’ve done the program, I feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do. I’m 35, these are some of the most productive years of my life. I am choosing to be here in the North West of Tasmania. There is so much that can be achieved in this region. Anything is possible. It starts with dreaming, then talking to your networks, and then it just seems to come together. You can’t be afraid of failure.”
“I’m comfortable with who I am, with what I’m doing, I feel like I’m living my destiny. The North West is already undergoing a transformation as a food and tourism destination. I am part of that change and that’s really exciting. The Tasmanian Leaders Program has really accelerated that journey for me.”
Being appointed to the position of CEO at Carers Tasmania enabled former ministerial staffer Janine Arnold to move from a high-profile political advisory role to running an organisation that is integral to the lives of many Tasmanians. Janine loves her job. Carers Tasmania is at the heart of the community sector in Tasmania, providing support for Tasmania’s estimated 73,800 family and friend carers who look after people with mental illness, disability, chronic conditions or who are frail aged.When Janine was selected for the first cohort of the Tasmanian Leaders Program in 2007, she was working for an events company and her CEO and not-for-profit destination wasn’t even in her game plan.
“I’d been in my event management job for seven years. I became aware of the Tasmanian Leaders Program towards the end of my university degree, I didn’t necessarily see myself as a leader, I just knew it was time for something different.”
“I’ve never been someone who wanted to do or be something specific when I ‘grew up’. I was motivated by wanting to make a contribution that was useful, and be the best I could be at the same time, and I thought the Tasmanian Leaders Program would extend me further towards that.”
The focus on Tasmania and Tasmanian issues created the macro context of the program for Janine, it was an awakening on many levels as to who she was, what sort of a leader she could be, and where she fitted in the Tasmanian picture.
“Ironically (if I look at where I am now), one of the most memorable moments for me of the program was the understanding that you don’t have to be a CEO to be a leader; you can lead from anywhere at any time. One of the facilitators said something to me that has become my mantra and was one of the key messages for me from the whole program: “You don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a noise.”
“Having said that, as an advisor to a minister in government I had to speak up, I had to be heard, and the TLP gave me more confidence and courage to do that. But that quote validated my natural inclination to sometimes listen and lead in other ways – it’s okay to not be the loudest voice in the room”
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program really became a watershed moment for me. All of the career choices I have made since completing the program have been directly impacted by the influence the TLP had on my journey. I want to make a contribution to a great society here in Tasmania; a place where people are safe, where there is an economy that is viable, and where people can thrive in an individual, social and economic sense.”
“What the Tasmanian Leaders Program also gave me is the automatic reaction to being asked to step up that I can do it: I have the skills, I can be influential and I can be a leader. The journey of Tasmanian Leaders is not one that stops when you step out of the program, it comes with peers, networks of support and ultimately friends and mentors that endure well into the future. I’ll be grateful for it for the rest of my life.”
The Tasmanian Leaders Program often acts as a catalyst to change for its participants, either during or after the program is complete. Amanda Castray entered the program after returning from maternity leave, doing a job she thought she should do, rather than a job she was destined to do. It was a subtle distinction but one that was impeding her fully launching into a career based on passion and purpose.
“A number of people recommended the program to me, and spoke about their personal transformation as well as their professional one, it was this element, this holistic approach that was what I needed. I knew I needed to do something else, but I had no idea what it was. The Tasmanian Leaders Program offered me the ideal time for a combination of reflection and action.”
“The initial residential confirmed for me that I was with the right people, and that I had the right skills and most importantly the right intent that the others in the group had.”
Amanda’s first ‘a-ha’ moment came when she found herself unable to complete one of the personal portfolios listing her goals and values. This made her realise she needed to think deeply about what she really believed in, where she wanted to go and how she wanted to contribute to Tasmania.
“For me, the learnings of the Tasmanian Leaders Program were the emotional intelligence piece. That really played out in the workplace. I simply communicated better; I understood the motivation of my staff better; and as a consequence, productivity and camaraderie improved and everyone got better at their roles.”
“I became a better version of myself, but self-awareness of my personality type was at the core of this realisation. When I knew what my best self was capable of, I was able to strive for that balance. In terms of how I structure my teams now, I make sure that I know their personality types and have the right balance of skill sets and capacities.”
“Learning that there isn’t one leadership style was very affirming for me. When I changed roles during the program and had significantly more staff, I had the tools to quickly adapt to what the team and the job required. I still regularly return to the material from the Tasmanian Leaders Program to help me deal with issues and conflicts when they arise.”
“In my public service job, I never would have seen some of the deep injustices and entrenched problems that Tasmania has culturally and socially. The exposure through the Tasmanian Leaders Program has made me realise that Tasmania needs many hands on deck. Since completing the TLP, I have taken on roles on not-for-profit boards and in the community where I can do my bit to try and facilitate change and contribute.”
“I’m certainly a better leader in the work context; I’m clearer about how to support staff, how to motivate, how to mentor people, and how satisfying it is when I see people grow. I feel confident that I can contribute more, and that I have a responsibility as a leader in Tasmania – I have an obligation to make a difference.”
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program gave me a sense of purpose and urgency, but it has also made me more patient. Most importantly, it has given me a peer group, so when I need support or advice, I have a network of people to turn to, who want the same things for Tasmania that I do.”
Sam Ibbott was successful in his specialised role in technical marine science research, development and commercialisation. What he wanted was the ‘soft skills’ of leadership. The Tasmanian Leaders Program offered him that holistic experience, and its focus on community and Tasmania was a compelling combination.As with many TLP participants, the program became the support for big change and decision making for Sam, as he left the stability of his job with the University of Tasmania to start up a private company. He strategically aligned the program to this decision, figuring that in the first year of his new business there would be time for professional development that he hoped would not be available as the business boomed.
“In the university environment, I was surrounded by people who were similar to me. The diversity of the TLP group was fantastic, it allowed me to much better understand the broad church of society: how everyone is important and how to interact effectively to get the best out of myself and other people.”
“I felt a little outgunned at the start of the program – I didn’t know what I brought to the group, they all seemed so competent and talented. After a short while, I realised that I had something unique to offer – that realisation has stuck with me, and wherever I front up to now, I have the confidence to ask a cheeky question or offer an opinion and hopefully make a difference.”
“The under-riding ethos of the Tasmanian Leaders Program has pervaded a lot of what I’ve done. The program and I had a good values match to start with; I wasn’t doing it to change me, I was doing it to become a better version of myself. I’ve consciously built those values into my business as it has grown and expanded.”
“I try to create opportunities so my staff aren’t just employees, they are investors in the business; they part own it, and for many this is their first investment. It gives them an experience of being a business owner, some awareness of the challenges of running a business and this strategic approach is ultimately a good way of leveraging our business expertise to provide a whole lot of social benefits into a rural and regional area.”
Sam hasn’t just found ways to make his staff’s engagement more sustainable, he has opened the door for them to start giving back to the community as well. Six years ago he was part of a team which set up an education program funded through industry called Working on the Water, which exposes Grade 9 students to marine careers in Tasmania.
“My staff are now presenting that program, educating and inspiring future marine workers. I want Tasmanian kids to value the unique natural advantages an island can offer. In Tasmania, I want us to be a leader of islands, not a follower of mainlands, and quality training is the pathway to that.”
“The Tasmanian Leaders Program has given me so many tools in my toolbox; tools that still guide my participation, vision and passion for Tasmania. During the program in one of the exercises, I was asked to answer what I was supposed to be, and how did I know. Once I’d thought about it, my answer wasn’t a businessman or a scientist, it was to be honest, happy, helpful and trustworthy.”
“Life and leadership is about being a good person and a good member of society, and the Tasmanian Leaders Program has amplified that within me.”
As a technical expert with a seventeen year career at mining company Grange Resources, Ben Maynard knew that when he was promoted to a senior level of management, with a lot more HR responsibilities, he needed to build some skills in leadership fast. He turned to the Tasmanian Leaders Program to help reveal the missing leadership piece for the next chapter of his career.“I don’t remember begging, but I think I begged. I was pretty keen to get a leg in to the program and get some help for what I was about to face at work. I’d thought about an MBA or a Mt Eliza course, but in addition to skills, the TLP offered Tasmanian networks and peers for support.”
“From the beginning of the program, the deep interrogation of how to understand behavioural types and work to their strengths resonated with me. I could see elements of my team members in my peers, and was able to observe the situations they thrived in. I realised early on that this was the key to management for me.”
Like many participants in the program, the early hesitation about being the right fit for the group quickly transformed into a sense that Ben already had more skills than he realised and his pursuit of both the program and his career aspirations were validated.
“The management and leadership learnings at the Tasmanian Leaders Program were perfectly balanced by the deep engagement with the Tasmanian community – it was powerful as the context and responsibility of what we are charged to do as leaders.”
“Being marginalised or disadvantaged shouldn’t silence you from the conversation. Everyone has a voice, and everyone has some value to add. Everyone has an experience that is important, and we have to make space to hear those voices, and act on what people have to say.”
Ben is now the General Manager of Grange Resources. The timing of his participation in the program and the promotion gave him the platform to step into the role and take it on with confidence.
“After completing the TLP, I knew I could do the role. I knew my strengths and weaknesses, what to look out for – I was simply prepared. I could go from a mine site in Tasmania to a board meeting in China and I was ready for whatever occurred.”
“I’m more deliberate in the way I use my time, I feel so much more in front of the game. When I turn up at a meeting I know what I want to achieve and what my agenda is, and I can effectively get everyone’s views at the table and make sure they are heard. Even if I am unsure where the meeting will go, I have some tools to flush out and work through the issues.”
“Our business, like many iron ore businesses, is under a lot of pressure from global market prices. There are 600 people in the business and I want to make sure they all have good secure careers and jobs. We are also stewards of the Tasmanian environment, which is precious and needs leadership and care as much as the human resources do.”
“I’d like to think that since participating in the Tasmanian Leaders Program, every day I get better. I can take on anything. I feel more effective than I did before, and that’s better for me, better for business, and better for my contribution to Tasmania.”
Craig Perkins was comfortably elected for a second term as Mayor of Meander Valley Council in 2014. His popularity with the electorate and his fellow aldermen correlates directly with his leadership style, which he attributes to undertaking the Tasmanian Leaders Program.Craig’s participation in the program came following a request from the board of his employer, Regional Development Australia Tasmania. He had just been appointed to the role of CEO within the organisation, and the board had suggested some professional development.“I was a bit concerned about finding the right professional development opportunity, I didn’t want to do a course for the sake of it. I saw the Tasmanian Leaders Program advertisement just before the applications closed and it was the best program I’d seen for its focus on both leadership skills and Tasmania.”
“The beginning of the program coincided with a lot of changes to the Australian government which impacted significantly on the work of Regional Development Australia Tasmania, and so the timing was perfect in helping me support my staff and transition them, the organisation and myself through a challenging period.”
“There were a lot of things I thought I was good at when I started the Tasmanian Leaders Program, which in hindsight, I wasn’t. I really gained a lot of insight into myself and others. The program gave me the tools to accept and appreciate the value of the contribution that other people make – now I actively seek other points of view; I really listen and work with them.”
“Some people in the program have big moments of awakening. For me, it was like a series of connected revelations. I can still picture the models we used, conversations I had, and presentations I saw, and I continue to refer back to them in my day to day life, both professional and personal.”
“The TLP made me recognise that everyone has something to offer. Individual politics, opinions and views are all valid – even if they are not aligned with mine. This diversity actually brings outcomes through complimentary thinking and decision-making. Putting this leadership style into action has been critical in my work with local government.”
The opportunity to run for Mayor was not on the whiteboard for Craig or even part of a future bucket list of service to the community. One of his fellow Tasmanian Leaders Program alumni suggested that Craig run for local government, and after initially dismissing it, at the last minute he nominated and was successful. When the sitting Mayor was elected to Federal Parliament, Craig looked around the council table and wondered who would become Mayor.
“It wasn’t on my radar initially. I hadn’t joined council to become a mayor, but there were only a couple of us that had the capability. I thought to myself someone has to do it so I’ll put up my hand. I’m really pleased I did, and I thoroughly enjoy the role and the engagement with the community.”
Craig views the work he does with Regional Development Australia Tasmania and his mayoral duties as part of a Venn diagram of making Tasmania a better place, whilst mentoring his staff and community alongside him.
“A leader doesn’t say ‘that’s where we’re going and I’ll meet you there’; a leader facilitates the community to consciously come on the journey, strong and empowered.”