Leading Online Masterclass

8 May 2012 By Hannah Carrodus & Conal Thwaite

Graphic recording by Lynne Cazaly
Graphic recording by Lynne Cazaly

Citizen Leadership is occurring in unprecedented force across the globe. In recent times we have seen the successes and subsequent fallout from the Arab Spring protests, the Occupy movements and the Kony campaign. 

With the advent of social media it only takes one brief tweet from a high-profile person to spark off a storm of controversy. Yet at the same time, if social media is utilised properly, it can be an excellent tool for today’s leaders to connect with people and drive change. 

To remain at the forefront of the changes occurring in new technologies and their implications for thoughtful leadership, last Friday, May the 4th, LV ran the Leading Online Masterclass. The event was the first in LV’s Citizen Leadership Project. It was also the first official event held in LV’s new events space, the JJ Clarke Room located in the Old Treasury Building. The Masterclass included a presentation from guest speaker Emily Hehir, a young woman who started a recent campaign to remove advertising from radio personality Kyle Sandiland’s radio show. Emily talked about how to move an idea into action; navigating positive and negative feedback online and backing up online campaigning with a “campaign face”. She spoke about the need to manage intense media pressure once the campaign had taken off.

A second guest speaker, CEO of the Australian branch of Nick Allardice, explained that websites such as are putting more power into ordinary people’s hands. His not-for-profit organisation sees its role as providing the platform, while citizens themselves establish and direct the campaigns. As well as the online petition can also provide further tools and advice as campaigns develop. Nick discussed how to manage the overwhelming traffic from a successful campaign and how campaigns might morph or ‘breakout’ into subsets.

Emily’s and Nick's presentations were followed by an energetic Q&A session facilitated by LV’s Leader in Residence Chris Kotur.

The participants also broke into smaller groups to examine a case study of issues being raised online and subsequently spreading to the mainstream media. The example was the campaign to stop the CEO of weight loss company Jenny Craig from speaking at the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia (AGSA) conference this year. Masterclass participants were asked to consider the merits of the issue, as well as how the different stakeholders had used leading online and the traditional media to achieve their goals, including the activists who started the online campaign, the AGSA, Jenny Craig, and those who withdrew their support for the conference. Participants were asked to consider how they would respond to negative online campaigns when they, or their company, were on the firing end.

The Masterclass thereby not only conveyed how to harness opportunities provided by online resources, but also started a dialogue about how social media has impacted the leadership landscape.

Leadership Victoria received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the event. While attendees stemmed from a variety of organisations, many were in communications and strategy positions. Some of the evaluation comments included: “Loved the guest speakers – what an amazing context for our conversation,” “Using the case study as a springboard was great,” and, “I found it all relevant to my role and life.”