My name is Monica Plunkett, and I now, confidently, call myself a Tasmanian Leader.

Before undertaking the Tasmanian Leaders Program I had never thought of myself as a leader – having never held the title of manager, director, or CEO.

When I applied for TLP in 2015, I held the perception that being a ‘creative small business owner’ may not be enough. This past year however, has emphasised to me that being ‘creative’ is an admirable ability for a leader to have. In fact, I think it is this ability to think differently, to look beyond the expected, and to not be afraid to shake things up that distinguishes the extraordinary leader from the ordinary

A few months ago in one of our Linking Sessions, we were introduced to the concept of ‘rat-baggery’ – the idea that in order to create significant change, you need to buck the trends, challenge the expected, and do things your own way.

I think if my title of ‘creative’ allows me anything, it’s free license to be a bit of a ratbag!

As well as ‘creative’, another title I have had for a while now is ‘small business owner’.

My husband Ben and I have operated our own creative studio – Halibut Creative – for the last nine years. Based in Launceston, we specialise in branding, design and advertising for a range of organisations both here and interstate. We employ one designer, and utilise a small team of suppliers as required. We definitely epitomise the SMALL in small business!

As a small business owner, taking time away from the business each month for TLP commitments was a juggle. I had to undertake extra work before and after each event, lug my laptop around to manage urgent deadlines, and get back to clients late at night in between session days.

Then there was the financial commitment. Because Ben and I are hands-on in our business, if the work does not get done, invoices do not get sent, and we do not get paid. We also do not have a huge (if any!) budget for training or development. So the decision to apply for Tasmanian Leaders was a big one. With Ben’s encouragement, I decided to apply and we hoped for a scholarship.

Luckily I was fortunate to receive the Alumni Change Maker Scholarship. This was pretty special, as 2016 was the first year it was offered. Thanks to the initiative of Julia Curtis (TLP1), over 50 Alumni members contributed towards two scholarships, which provided the opportunity to participate, for me, and another TLP10 participant, Daryl Connelly. Needless to say, I felt incredibly humbled that the Alumni put their faith in me, and believed that I had something to offer.

To those TLPers, who contributed and backed me, I say “watch this space!” Hopefully in years to come, when I create or do something that makes a positive difference in our state, they will remember it was me they helped, and know that their investment was worthwhile.

A major part of the program, for all of us, was discovering more about ourselves. Which leads me to my next, more recently discovered title. As well as being ‘creative’, and a ‘small business owner’, I am an ENFP.

For those who are not familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) let me elaborate. As a selfidentified ENFP I prefer not to base my decisions on the concrete or the rational. I often speak before I have done the thinking and prefer to rely on my feelings and intuition. These are attributes that I think are not necessarily great for a typical ‘leader’ or ‘manager’.

When I searched for leaders who have the same MBTI type, I was underwhelmed. Apart from writers, musicians, comedians and Hollywood actors, typical ENFP leaders were thin on the ground – Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Julian Assange were the most influential… but they are not typical leaders either, are they?

As well as encouraging more self-awareness, MBTI enabled us to better understand others, and to better manage relationships in order to become more effective leaders. When I was searching for inspiration for this speech, I read previous TLP yearbooks, and I discovered one of my friends, Leanne Sherriff (TLP7), had summed this up perfectly by saying, “It is about understanding, valuing and respecting people for their differences, and learning to be a leader who brings out the best in the people around them.”

Greg McCann shared some lessons in leadership with us during the year, and continued this idea when he said, “People who are inspired and empowered will raise their performance way beyond anything they thought possible.”

And while I may never have considered myself a leader before, I know moving forward that I can, and will, empower others to achieve their best. I now know that this is what true leadership is about. It is not about having an impressive title or having particular personality traits. It is about being able to share a vision and inspiring others to be part of it.

After a year incredibly rich in learnings, insights and inspiration I feel enriched, empowered, and excited for the future.

Monicak Plunkett
TLP10 2016 Tasmania Leaders Program
Graduation Dinner
Valedictory Sprrch