ILP Guest Blog, Day 4

19 June 2013 By Alison Medhurst, Department of Environment and Primary Industries

Friday, 9am at the end of a very long week I find myself still contemplating a challenge left with us on Day 3 – What will you commit to? – and wondering if I have the energy to keep my head together for another full day of leadership thoughts, reflections and learning.  Melbourne has experienced some fairly heavy rain overnight and so it’s nice to settle into the now familiar environs of the Old Treasury building, crank up the heaters and set off on another day of our leadership journey.

To start James Garriock takes us through a systems perspective of leadership with great enthusiasm and energy and before long we’re all talking and thinking about how aligned and engaged we (and our teams) are with our respective organisations. 

After the break we find ourselves once again learning how to use a facilitation tool while simultaneously learning more about how we understand leadership and developing some collective answers to our questions.  Dual purpose learning and learning from each other are common to this course!


Post lunch one of our participants, Matt, takes us through his “Brown Paper Bag” session and has us all thinking about the similarities of people and cows in the way we respond to those who intrude into our fight or flight zones. We’ve all heard the expression that leadership is “like herding cats” but I’ve never heard it likened to herding cows. Thanks Matt, that image will stay with me for a while!

Then the lovely Helga Svendsen arrives to give us her insights into “Leadership, Courage and the Big Issues”. Wow! Perhaps our most confronting session yet. Helga tells us that if we just practice being courageous we will get used to that really icky feeling we all have in the pit of our stomachs in difficult situations. And without giving away all of her secrets, I think I might just believe her!

As we move into our last session for the day, I’m back to wondering if we all have the stamina to make it through – all that courage finding was pretty draining! Thankfully we have some amazing progress to report back in our workplace challenges and, as much as our facilitator Louise tries to rein us in, we’re running over time again because we all just want to chat for longer!

With the energy buzzing again, we do a little coaching practice with our buddies to finish off the day before heading back out into the bleak Melbourne evening - exhausted, but inspired and just a little bit nervous about the challenges we’ve set ourselves to complete before the next session in two weeks’ time…….

Alison Medhurst is a Senior Project Officer with the Co-Design unit in the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI). Alison works with program and project teams across DEPI to assist them to design and deliver client-centric services that achieve government outcomes.