We are excited to announce the 66 leaders who have been selected for the 2021 Williamson Leadership Program.Over the next year, the group will dive deep into themselves, the nature of leadership and explore vital issues facing our society.
Alice Miller | Alicia Colley | Amanda Proposch | Amber O’Connell
Pete Zwiers | Robyn Smith | Laura Howell | Katrina Herbert
Jacqueline Watkins | Jennifer Briitt | Scott Fitzpatrick
Matthew Everitt | Giselle Pinto | Ruth Heredia | Mark Fulcher
Natalie Smith | Phil Imfeld | Tim Marchinton
Diverse perspective has always been an integral part of the Williamson experience. As well as their personal experience and knowledge, the 2021 cohort represents a range of different sectors, including:
State and local government
Infrastructure, engineering and construction
Banking, finance and superannuation
Law and justice
Sustainability and environment
NAIDOC Week 2020 – Always Was, Always Will Be.
We recognise & celebrate First Nations people who have occupied and cared for this continent over 65,000 years. Particularly this week, as part of the NAIDOC celebrations, the Leadership Victoria team acknowledges the leadership, contribution, and impact of First Nations alumni.
Troy Austin (WCLP‘07), Karen Milward (WCLP‘05), Anthony Cavanagh (WCLP‘15), Deb Walsh (WCLP’09), Laura Thompson (WCLP’18), Stephen Korp (WCLP’19), Helen Kennedy (WCLP‘98) and Kylie Belling (WCLP‘17) in particular for the ongoing guidance and contribution to the Williamson Leadership Program, and more broadly to Leadership Victoria, including through the Alumni Reference Group.
I’m going to talk about this year, however, to do this means picking up a thread from 2018. During Laura Thompson’s Williamson experience she was wondering ‘How do we make change? How do we influence?’. Past participants of LV programs will know the ritual of thanking speakers with socks. Laura recalled how she was ‘in awe of the way program participants weaved a story into the socks … thanking speakers and acknowledging their contribution to a more inclusive, healthier, happier and harmonious Australia’. Plain socks moved over for a new Aboriginal design from Laura.
However, this is about more than socks. The leadership challenge to Leadership Victoria, alumni, and those who follow in future programs, is one of acknowledgement. Of the deep, rich history in this Country. Of each of us recognising and respecting First Nations peoples and of the contribution to a more inclusive, healthier, happier, and harmonious Australia for all.
We acknowledge Laura’s leadership and also her contribution to Williamson this year as a speaker. Also, Anthony Cavanagh, opening the Williamson Welcome Retreat with a Welcome to Country to the group in Marysville and more recently speaking about the work of Ganbina, and Stephen Korp guiding the group through a workshop to understand on a deeper level the theme of Privilege. We also thank & acknowledge Stephen’s colleague Simon Penrose, Denis Rose from the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation, Larissa Falla and Rianne Hood from Ganbina, Leanne Miller, Levi Power and Lisa Thorpe from the First People’s Assembly of Victoria for the generosity of their contributions, insights and time with Williamson participants this year.
From socks have come scholarships. Catalysed by alumni from 2018 and supported by others in the LV Community, Aboriginal Victoria and Eastern Health Foundation, Williamson has a number of scholarships for First Nations people next year. They are a pathway to continued leadership, contribution, and impact of First Nations alumni for years to follow.
NAIDOC is a celebratory reminder of First Nations leadership, and that the land on which we stand – the very first footprints on this Country – belong to First Nations peoples. Always Was, Always Will Be.
– Angela Rutter (WCLP’09 and LV Program Designer and Facilitator)
Visual: This image story featured is from Stephen Korp (WCLP‘19). It represents the 40 Aboriginal languages in Victoria, with the white lines representing their path to all come together as one. Always Was, Always Will Be.
Seven months and hundreds of leadership lessons
Leaders will never do more important work than they’re doing right now to manage a crisis while building the future.
In my consulting work, I’ve hosted numerous conversations in communities across country Victoria over the last seven months, with people trying to take the best out of circumstances that radically changed their outlook on life and they’ve taught me some really important lessons about leadership that I can best summarise through these observations.
They often reminded me that we can choose to stay locked down (in every way) through negativity, resentment and anger or we can take opportunities to create better days without trying to somehow get back to a normal that no longer exists.
The numerous leaders I’ve learned from most recently don’t have roles in big organisations or companies. They don’t have executive power or impressive titles. They described themselves as “just regular people…we’re not big or important”. Some are members of local associations and clubs. Some volunteer, others hold down a couple of jobs (all vulnerable) and some are unemployed. They seem indifferent to acknowledgement or reward and are literally offered leadership because they’re people of good will who are selfless and offer a positive, problem-solving orientation.
These people turned up to our sessions thinking that discussions to explore positive ways for the community to move beyond the covid crisis would be worthwhile. They came along optimistic about creating a more positive future if people listen to each other and share ideas to take small steps toward bigger successes.
And they were right.
Our sessions gathered countless stories of community-building efforts such as growing a diminishing volunteer base, of successful advocacy that raised money and political support for new infrastructure, of starting initiatives to grapple with local problems, of support for vulnerable groups like young people at risk of poor mental health, or the elderly or isolated who are suffering, of local collaborations around resilience and recovery, of plans to re-energise
community spirit and support local commerce through sport, music, play, marketing local produce, encouraging tourism and rethinking the use of public spaces.
To me, these people are extraordinary connectors (because they rally others, they network, encourage, urge and persuade) and act as spotters (of opportunity and luck) and boosters (because put simply, they make things happen, “we always have the next project ready to go”).
They show up. They adapt (even if during 2020, this has meant upending their lives) and show others it’s possible to move beyond a longing for a lost past. They accept that many changes we’ve had to make during this year will stick. And not all changes have been bad.
They have a go. “We don’t always have a firm plan…we nut things out and change as we go so we don’t try to measure success too early. That’s why we keep and share a journal with ideas and lessons”
They don’t wait for help to arrive. They get on with it. They admit, “change is hard, we make mistakes, we mess up but then we just think roadblocks are new challenges and we look for others to help”.
Their positivity and enthusiasm is infectious.
These are so many Victorians who have showed up and become purposeful leaders without even knowing it!
At Leadership Victoria we have many opportunities to seek out and support more purposeful leaders, to help strengthen their skills, spread their stories and show all Victorians what we’ll need to know and do to reset the best of community life. I for one, can’t wait for more leadership lessons.
Chris Kotur Leader In Residence, Leadership Victoria
How might we face society’s biggest challenges in a global pandemic?
In 6 different Clan* groups, current Williamson participants are delving into some of the biggest challenges facing our society in 2020:
Clan Group 1: Equity
How might we be active allies to Aboriginal communities to achieve greater equity?
Clan Group 2: Mental Health
How might we create space for mental health and wellbeing?
Clan Group 3: Climate Change
How might we influence LV and the 2020 WLCP cohort (then past and future cohorts) to take on a Climate Change challenge (big or small)?
Clan Group 4: Family Violence
“To stop duck shooting, you don’t go to the ducks” – How might we include the perspective of the male perpetrator of family violence to instigate change?
Clan Group 5: Opportunity
How might we gather people’s stories of the unusual events of 2020 to capture hope and resilience?
Clan Group 6: Gender Equality
How might we intervene and impact on critical moments, through empowerment, and make them count?
It’s going to be fun, colorful and a great opportunity to connect with others in the Leadership Victoria community. You don’t need expertise in the topic areas. You do need enthusiasm, curiosity & an open mind.
*CLANs (Collaborative Leadership in Action Network) are an opportunity to engage the different mindsets, skills, talents, and resources of the group on a societal challenge that requires exceptional leadership. The CLAN method puts into practice the adaptive leadership principles and competencies explored throughout the Williamson experience, to a broader lens of leadership challenges in our society.
An Open Letter to LV Alumni and Participants
By Chris Kotur (WCLP’94), LV’s Leader in Residence
Don’t stop learning about good leadership during crises…we need to draw on all we know to offer confidence and hope right now and afterwards…
Many thousands of Victorians have come through successive waves of trauma and crises, serial natural disasters and years of adapting to consequences of far too many compounding bad surprises. Victorians already know a lot about unwelcome events that permanently change lives and force people to attempt recovery afterwards…
The pandemic is another one of those events and it’s a major opportunity to share some of what Victorians can teach us about resilience.
Many in the Leadership Victoria community are at the forefront of leading the major adaptive changes we’re going through and I want to acknowledge and thank each one of you for working so hard to help us through really difficult change.
I also want to acknowledge and share the sadness of those who have lost jobs and I hope that doesn’t mean we’ve lost confidence in the future.
In crises it’s easy to forget what we as leaders already know and are able to do.
If you think its valuable I can share some of the insights I’ve gained from facilitating thousands of conversations and reviewing advice, ideas and suggestions from the many government inquiries, three Royal Commissions and countless consultations that I’ve been part of – learning so much from those who experienced crises, lost so much and yet came through the other side – so we can keep learning together.
Firstly, I predict we’ll be better at getting through this awful time than it seems right now as we try in real time, to understand and readjust to the consequences of a pandemic.
“After a while I learned that I had to give myself permission to pause, take in what had happened and readjust” (Black Saturday)
For Leadership Victoria participants and alumni its time to pause, get on the balcony and draw down every lesson, experience, story, idea and good advice you heard probably thinking you’d ‘come back to that later’. Come back to that knowledge now.
We’re all adapting, unwillingly, awkwardly, too quickly and with little control so remember all you know about adaptive leadership – the theory and practice is solid and it works. (If new to or need to refresh Adaptive Leadership check out the many resources by Marty Linsky, Ron Heifetz whose research and practice advice were developed for just these extraordinarily difficult times).
Reflect on every bit of inspiration and wisdom you’ve heard from presenters and from across your LV network. Every LV encounter is a miniature case study of what to do now and afterwards, when this awful time seems less awful.
We’ve got this. Afterwards people will need us more than ever and that means we can’t stop learning.
Secondly, consider what many Victorians said about maintaining resilience after Black Saturday and the Hazelwood Mine disaster.
“I learned to watch for signs of when I’d had enough and just couldn’t go on. It learned when to say no and just leave for a while, rest, eat, get a hug”
“It was a really emotional time, we were overwhelmed by what we’d lost and grief stopped us from planning for later…It was so tough but I wish we’d been less sentimental and started to get ready for the future more quickly”
It’s not selfish to put yourself first under current circumstances. It’s essential. You won’t be able to hold others in distress if you’re not ok. You’ll need the energy, physical and mental strength that requires down time.
Thirdly, while events are changing quickly we listen (and then only selectively) to leaders whom we trust and who deliver information clearly, consistently, empathetically and with authority.
The amount of information we can take in reduces. We hear what we want to, misinterpret even simple messages and easily fall prey to speculation, scams and conspiracies. A message clear to you can sound like gibberish to someone else.
“I could only hear what people like me and who knew me were saying…(Heazlewood Mine disaster)
Its time to review style and content of communication especially while there’s an information glut and social media, while keeping us connected, adds confusion and noise.
Updates must be frequent, quick, clear and decisive.
Fourthly, nostalgia isn’t your friend.
“After Black Saturday I just wanted Friday back”
“I simply decided to care for people I didn’t know and that meant being gentle with people who did stupid things”
“I wanted my old life back but I had to change the way I think.” (Family Violence)
Your work, workplace culture and relationships with colleagues have already changed even if you don’t know it yet. Current strategic, corporate, business or council plans are now probably irrelevant. Plans for managing risk or emergencies may prove woefully inadequate.
Services, business models and policies are reshaping right now, by forces beyond our control.
The next term of political leadership has already begun because the aftermath of this crisis will continue for a long time. Small NFP’s without deep reserves have already become insolvent.
“After 15 years of daily violence at home I realised I had to stop hoping things would return to the way we were at the beginning and it was time to run…” (Family Violence)
There’s a danger that in dealing with the short, sharp daily emergencies we won’t make time to reflect and learn and plan properly for what comes later.
Try to reserve enough energy and clear thinking to apply foresight right now or ‘afterwards’.
There are so many more lessons, smart, practical ways to lead through to the other side of this crisis and I’ll help you do that if I can.
In March, the 2020 Williamson cohort are exploring the theme of belonging and its different forms in the context of place, identity, community and work. They’ll be examining attitudes towards cultural diversity, inclusion and heritage and considering the challenges for community groups as well as organisations seeking to meet social need. What does it mean to belong? What does a socially cohesive society look and feel like? What voices are not being heard? And what is the experience of exclusion? As part of the Williamson program experience, participants will be visiting The Islamic Museum of Australia. Maryum Chaudhry, General Manager of the Islamic Museum of Australia shares her thoughts on belonging:
Belonging by Maryum Chaudhry (WCLP’14), General Manager, Islamic Museum of Australia
As I write this, the team here at the Islamic Museum of Australia is in the midst of developing an exciting new exhibition, highlighting the voices of ‘every day’ Muslims in the community.
It has been interesting to hear the voices of people, all of whom come from a minority group or groups: They’re all Muslim – some wear pieces of clothing that make them identifiably so – they are mostly non-Anglo, hailing from countries across Asia, the sub-continent, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Some have recently, or not so recently come from elsewhere: carving a place in a foreign country, learning a new language, culture and way of life, finding employment and embedding themselves and their families into their new country.
Others are the voices of first and second generation Australian-born Muslims: They’ve known no other country to be home, yet they’re pigeonholed by their religion, clothing or colour of their skin by others and considered to be from elsewhere.
It should come as no surprise then, that one of the underlying themes arising from the stories captured for the exhibition, is that of belonging.
The common thread that binds them is that a sense of belonging is often driven by self-acceptance and indeed, finding this is very much a journey for the individual.
This said, harnessing a healthy sense of belonging is not a one-way street. It begs the question: in the workplace, as in the wider community, what can others – specifically those in leadership roles -do to enhance the sense of belonging of others?
Empathy is critical, yes. But so too, is leaning in to the unknown, embracing the opportunity to learn something new, no matter how big or small. Certainly in the case of Islam and Muslims, much of what is understood by others is limited to what they read and see in the media – this in itself is often the driver of negative narrative.
Personally, I find it’s far more productive to respond to sincere questions, than to laugh off the feigned pity and jokes about our inability to join the rest of the team in finishing the working week with a glass of wine. The latter only serves, perhaps unconsciously to draw a line between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and feeds into any self-doubt around belonging.
A handful of our ‘every day voices’ were quick to acknowledge they were perhaps more fortunate than most, applauding their employers for seemingly small but significant measures: the occasional pilates class instead of drinks at the pub; support during Ramadan including adjusted hours; the provision of a place to pray, twice a day for ten minutes at a time; or simply asking questions to better understand the religion.
What can be said with little or no argument, is that to not feel a sense of belonging, to feel excluded, is a lonely place. At work, this can translate to poor workplace culture, poor productivity and a lack of pride in one’s work.
Ignorance, indifference, fear and apathy are the best of friends to social incohesion, yet the solution in part is simple.
Lean in to what you don’t know and take affirmative action. More and more, minorities are occupying a greater space in the workplace and at the Boardroom table, where they belong. Commit yourself and your team to cultural awareness training (there are tremendous programs on offer, including one offered by the Islamic Museum), ask questions, engage and embrace.
Maryum Chaudhry (WCLP’14)
Maryum is the General Manager of the Islamic Museum of Australia. She is the President of Sanad Foundation and Vice Chair of Centre for Muslim Wellbeing. She was previously a Commissioner for the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Vice President of Islamic Council of Victoria (CV) and CARE With ME (foster care), Member of the Women’s Legal Service of Victoria, Alumni of the Williamson Leadership Program and an AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador. Read more about the Maryum and the Islamic Museum of Australia here.
The Everyday Opportunity
The Everyday Opportunity
By Kipp Kaufmann (FCLP’17)
When was the last time you had a great opportunity just drop in your lap?
You may have been working towards a new challenge or opportunity that has come along or maybe you didn’t see it coming and suddenly there it was. Many of us are constantly focused on the ultimate goal and asking questions such as:
“When will my next leadership opportunity come up? What is the next ‘BIG’ thing I can do? What change can I lead? Why hasn’t it come yet?”
Instead, we rarely focus and enjoy the process we take to get to our goal.
Every day presents an opportunity to rise to the leadership challenge. Instead of being so focused on the next big thing, we can gain so much by focusing on the individual moments of the leadership journey that make a difference. This doesn’t need to be groundbreaking, it could be as simple as finding time for someone when you don’t have any, chatting with someone you don’t know or do something that makes you uncomfortable.
For me this can be well summed up by looking at the sporting world. It’s often assumed that a sports person only focuses on the major goal for the year – “we must win the Grand Final”, “I must get a gold at…” but every great team leader (coach, captain or athlete) is also focused on the moment and the current day practice. Reaching a goal and great performances are about delivering consistently. It’s this consistency which develops trust, interest and success. Great performances have been proven to be a summation of a series of moments that led to a great outcome.
It’s incredible to consider the ongoing moments we are offered and how they can develop our leadership capability. Some days you might have particularly intense leadership challenges while others come easy. Whatever the opportunity that presents itself, it’s a chance to learn and improve. Leadership shouldn’t be defined by one major opportunity or achievement, instead it is a series of moments over a lifetime where you choose to lean in and take the leadership challenge.
The next time you think that you are doing something mundane think of how a change in this moment can link to a series of moments to demonstrate exceptional leadership.
Kipp Kaufmann (FCLP’17)
Kipp is currently the General Manager – Sport at Cycling Australia where he is responsible for international and national events, coaching and officiating.
He has previously held roles as CEO of Cycling Victoria and the Alberta Bicycle Association.
His journey in sport management began at McMaster University in fundraising, alumni development and the 2010 Commonwealth Games Bid for Hamilton.
Moving to Australia to pursue his Masters degree he had roles at Yachting Victoria, 2006 Commonwealth Games and Blind Sports Australia.
Kipp also has a Masters of Business (Sport Management) from Deakin University and a Hons. Bachelor of Kinesiology from McMaster University.
Kipp is a graduate of the Leadership Victoria Folio Program.
Leading for Impact
By Lyndon Galea, 2019 Williamson Leadership Program Alumnus
This year I have been incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Williamson Leadership Program. I say ‘fortunate’ because I have been unsuccessful on two previous occasions applying for the program. And I was only able to cover the program fee thanks to Westpac’s Social Change Fellowship.
For these reasons amongst others, I knew not to take the privilege of being in the 2019 cohort for granted.
The year has been one filled with exceptional peers, presenters and perspectives. The course content and the conversations that have stemmed from it have made for an expansive development experience. One that I’m certain will reverberate in the years to come for all of us who have taken part.
‘Leading with Purpose’ has been a consistent theme throughout. I’ve been asked to share on this topic, and why and how I lead.
Until Williamson commenced, I’d not considered these questions deeply, but I knew if I could learn to become a stronger leader I could better influence the positive outcomes and causes I’m passionate about – in my case, Eat Up, and our aspiration to provide free lunches to disadvantaged Australian school children who would otherwise go without.
With a cause such as feeding hungry kids, it is very easy to find and steadily refer to purpose. It is an issue that stirs me just as it does others to want to help. Leading Eat Up has not so much been me inspiring or instilling this purpose in others, but helping to provide an outlet where we can work together to collectively contribute – in our case making and delivering as many sandwiches as possible. It is a very powerful why!
How? How do I lead – well, this is a work in progress and one that I’m very much learning on the job. But for the most part it involves getting out of the way. Again, I’m lucky to lead an organisation where the outcomes drive people’s effort and involvement. Volunteers, supporters, and our staff are all immensely passionate about seeing that kids don’t miss out on food. They’re even more passionate about seeing that kids don’t go without in their local community. This is how we’ve grown. They love their hometowns just as I do Shepparton – my home, and where Eat Up started after I read an article in our local newspaper about kids who were often sent to school without lunch and would go hungry.
Leading Eat Up’s growth has been primarily putting in place the infrastructure in between people’s goodwill to lend a hand, and those who could use a hand. Eat Up, and I think my role, is acting as a conduit between these two demands. I’m constantly inspired and motivated by that connection and the outcomes that come with it.
Leadership doesn’t have to be complex, it can be, but it needn’t be. Keeping things simple is a strength. That lesson has been made clear throughout WCLP this year, and I hope it will also show in Eat Up’s albeit bittersweet growth to reach and feed more hungry kids in the future. Our goal is to help kids nationally. Williamson has helped that goal come closer into view.
Why We Choose to Lead
By Michelle Crawford, 2019 Williamson Leadership Program Alumnus
To lead is a verb, it’s something you do. It’s about the provision of guidance and direction, and is an intentional act.
As a noun, purpose relates to the reason for which something is done.
Inequality and injustice are an ongoing challenge for Australia and beyond. Against this backdrop, 2019 Williamson Leadership Program participants have been challenged to reflect on the act of leading. We have been provided with privileged access to a diverse range of guests and experiences that have provided opportunities for growth, often through discomfort.
Leaders are in significant positions of power. How we act, practice self-care, the decisions we make, the direction we provide and our purpose impacts others.
Williamson brings together leaders from diverse backgrounds and it has been clear throughout the year that there is one strong cord that binds us. We all share a keen desire to master our craft as leaders so as to positively impact the complex world that is constantly changing.
While we seek to build on our experience, gifts, talents and innate ability to lead, we have accepted the challenge to constantly review the lens through which we look at things, and to seek out unusual voices as we lead.
A key ingredient to leading with purpose is understanding the WHY of why we choose to lead.
Exploring our own leadership through harthill.co.uk provided invaluable insight into the individual action logics which shape our actions and growth as leaders. Exploring our immunity to change, applying adaptive leadership principles to complex challenges, along with the rich and diverse experiences throughout the year have contributed to a deeper exploration of purpose.
Throughout the year I have had cause to reflect on the leaders I have worked with and observed, along with the leader that I aspire to be. The overwhelming insight has been – authentic.
Purpose cannot be contrived. I believe it is essential to find your passion – your raison d’être. Throughout the year I have found that the feedback I have sought from trusted peers, colleagues and friends as contributions for the various exercises we have undertaken has been incredibly affirming, highlighting my passionate approach to leadership, while challenging me to step into the authority of leading – to own the privilege and continue on a path of purposefulness as a leader who is emotionally, intellectually and culturally relevant.
The Chinese character for LISTEN is a key marker of my desire to lead with purpose.
To seize a sense of determination as a leader takes us beyond an act and moves into measurable impact.
I’m intensely grateful for the Williamson 2019 year, and resolve to listen with my ear, eyes, heart and undivided attention as I lead with purpose.
Michelle pictured above with her Mum to whom she credits her understanding of living and leading a life of purpose.
Leadership Victoria’s vision for reconciliation is to support and empower courageous, curious, and purposeful leadership to advance reconciliation in Australia.
Leadership Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters on which we gather and connect. We pay our respects to the leadership, storytelling, and teaching of First Nations peoples, and to their Elders past and present.
Leadership Victoria accepts the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. This land always was and always will be Aboriginal land.