Program Bites: Igniting Leadership Day 4

11 September 2017 By Christopher Lee

After an eventful past few days in the Igniting Leadership Program and ample discussions on the meaning of leadership, we progressed onto Day 4 of the program where we focused on the use emotional intelligence and the impact of “culture” within the workplace. There was a variety of discussion which challenged common preconceptions that our group had, especially on the true meaning of “culture” and how we can demonstrate and improve in our leadership styles. From the morning session, we discovered that workplace culture actually referred to “the way we do things around here” whereas climate was the correct term for “the way it feels around here”. It was interesting to realise that culture plays an important role in climate and that workforce engagement was another piece of the puzzle. One key learning was that the person most responsible for engaging is ourselves and that as leaders, we may only provide opportunities for engagement but we must also ask ourselves why are we engaging and whether we can appeal to others through the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) approach.

Another fascinating concept explored in the afternoon was the idea of emotional intelligence and the role is has in our decision making processes. One of the suggestions we heard was that the greatest measure of success is an ability to self-regulate, that is, being able to control one’s own emotion which was supported by the Dunedin longitudinal study. It was surprising to learn that it is currently believed that our behaviours and personality traits which influence emotional intelligence are largely set at around three years old although it was uplifting to hear that there were still ways to improve.

Apart from the presentations, one of the most useful and engaging parts of the program has been the ability to bring in our own workplace challenges for discussion in small groups and to bounce ideas of each other. It has been fantastic to be able to use our own expertise, combined with what we have learnt in the program, to provide support and suggestions to others in the group and to bring into practice what we have learnt on how to coach others.

One key takeaway I learnt is that while it is human nature to focus on the negatives and our weaknesses, we often forget to celebrate our strengths and it is by further developing our strengths that we’ll get the maximum benefit. It has been an extremely positive and effective experience, and I look forward to keeping this diverse network going and to inspire the leadership skills in each of us after the program has finished.  
Christopher Lee works as a Policy Officer for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (VIC)