Court Services Vic Team Kickstart Their Leadership Journey

11 June 2015 By Andrew Chidzey, Registrar, Magistrates Court of Victoria

Thursday 11 June. Kickstart Your Leadership - program tailored for the Court Services Victoria team.

It is four degrees and I am searching for an exit at Parliament Station which, I quickly discover, has multiple outlet options filled with people rugged up against the morning chill quickly making their way to get their daily caffeine fix prior to work. I emerge into the cold air at the top of Collins Street and as I observe the busker playing the piano accordion I look around for the Old Treasury Building. I dart across the road towards the nineteenth century building to make my way to day one of Leadership Victoria’s Kickstart Your Leadership program, tailored for team members from Victorian Court Services.

As I enter the room and take my seat I can almost hear everyone asking themselves the same questions in their heads: what will this involve? Is this another course to do to tick off on my PDP? Will I be forced out of my comfort zone? If I sit at the back will I be in a spot where I can go through unnoticed and not have to participate in any activities in front of my colleagues? As always people have sat with those others in the room they know and are comfortable with however this turns out to be a futile exercise. The first thing our facilitator Kat Howell (Manager, Tailored Solutions, Leadership Victoria) does is force us to get up and sit at a table with people we haven’t met before. Eeek – looks like the question of staying in my comfort zone has already been answered!

After Kat leads us through an exercise to talk about what we expect from the program – incorporating the inevitable butchers paper that seems to accompany every training program – Richard Dent OAM, Chief Executive, Leadership Victoria, takes to the floor to challenge us on the concept of adaptive leadership - and challenge us he does. Richard’s fast paced lecture incorporates challenging individuals on the spot. Like a game of spotlight you never know when you are going to be caught in the torchlight and asked to answer a question. As we are asked to compare and contrast the leadership capabilities of Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa most of us are put in our “stretch” zone yet it does not seem to hinder anyone from offering candid opinions. We are forced to consider the concept of leadership – what does it mean? What does it mean for us in our roles? How do we measure the success of a leader? It seems that the more we delve into the concept of leadership we uncover more questions than answers – I can see why this program is going to take two days!

Following Richard’s session the remainder of the day’s activities are facilitated by Kat Howell. Through a structured and comprehensive program we undertake a number of activities designed to help us develop self-awareness to understand who we are and, more importantly, provide us with an understanding as to how sound self-awareness is intrinsically linked to effective leadership. As with Richard, Kat challenges us to question ourselves.

As I look around the room I can see I am not alone in learning things about myself that I did not know – things that were “in my blind spot”. Concluding the day by writing personal vision statements on post cards that we will mail to ourselves at a later date (a strange yet effective concept), the general consensus around the room is one of exhaustion, appreciation and perhaps trepidation as to what day two of the program might involve.

As I join the throng of commuters scurrying to catch their train at Parliament Station, again rugged up against the cold, I can say that I know more about leadership and myself than I did when I first emerged from this labyrinth of a train station. This course has been one out of left field, different to any other professional course I have done to date, and while I feel that I still have much to learn about leadership I know I can go to work tomorrow and start applying knowledge gained today. Bring on day two!

Andrew Chidzey is a registrar of the Magistrates Court of Victoria. He has worked at both suburban and city courts and across a range of jurisdictions including civil law, family law, criminal law and the children’s court. He is currently a case manager and listings registrar for the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.