Leadership reads: Fostering Culturally Diverse Leadership in Organisations

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and absorb the book Fostering Culturally Diverse Leadership in Organisations by Karen Loon. As someone with an Asian background (I immigrated to Australia from China when I was 6), I’m always excited to see greater research and discussion on this topic, especially from those approaching the topic with an Asian-Australian lens.

Karen is an Asia-Capable Non-Executive Director, Audit Committee Chair and former Financial Services Partner (Assurance) at PwC with over 30 years of deep, international experience with preeminent financial services firms across Asia-Pacific, particularly in Singapore & Australia.

Motivated by her own experiences and observations on the lack of Asian-Australian leaders in Australian firms, Karen’s book examines how successful culturally diverse leaders at work resolve the contradictions and tensions of their personal identities within organisations. She interviewed dozens of successful Asian-Australian leaders to listen to their experiences, research what factors hold organisational change back, and share what we can learn from leaders who have thrived and smashed the ‘bamboo ceiling’.

I found Karen’s book to be a thought-provoking, well-researched, and nuanced approach to culturally diverse leadership. As someone fascinated by systems-thinking, I really appreciate how she explores the different contributing factors experienced by different Asian-Australian leaders, from the influence of our family and cultural systems, the interplay with Australian cultural contexts, the dynamics of organisational systems, and the impact this subsequently has on Asian-Australian leaders.

However, what I particularly resonate with is Karen’s choice to focus on the individual journey at the start of the book. She starts by exploring the familial roots of Asian-Australian leaders, the role that family plays in their identities, how these experiences influence the way people show up at work, and their subsequent career trajectories. Importantly, Karen also examines and acknowledges the distinctions between the different Asian cultures (such as community-centric vs individualistic differences) and how these might influence different approaches taken by Asian-Australian leaders.

In the second half of her book, Karen then flips this around to explore how organisational systems influence the identities of Asian-Australian leaders. Here, Karen is particularly nuanced in exploring the pitfalls of capital D ‘Diversity’ initiatives and is unafraid to explore the complexity and hard work that drive genuine diversity in organisations. She identifies many of the paradoxes at play that both help and hinder progress, as well as provide practical examples for what organisations can do.

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen’s book, the effort put into the research, the depth of thought and examination, and recommend her book for both emerging culturally diverse leaders as well as those seeking to foster long term change.

You can order a copy of Karen’s book here.

Written by Scott Ko (COO for Leadership Victoria) 

Disclaimer: With thanks to Karen, who provided me a copy of her book for review.

Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program Participants for 2022

We are excited to announce the 19 emerging leaders who have participated in the 2022 Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program.  Over 6 weeks, the group delved into interactive learning development workshops, collaborative group work, structured networking and mentoring activities to empower them to examine the structural, cultural and organisational barriers in their workplaces and realise their leadership potential. 

At the graduation, the group were asked to individually present their leadership promise; a commitment to how they will forge their leadership journey. Some promised to be a role models for other women. Others promised to lead ambitious projects. However, all of them acknowledged the realisation that they were in fact leaders and an excitement for what might come next.

The Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program honours the legacy of the late Joan Kirner AC. As Victoria’s first woman premier, she blazed a trail for women in public life and public office. The program is run in partnership with the Victorian Government and is supporting future generations of young Victorian women following in the footsteps of the late Joan Kirner.

Participant Local Government Area
Abbey Dalton Melbourne City Council
Apsara Senanayake Wyndham City Council
Ash Youkyoung Lee Yarra City Council
Caroline Kell Yarra City Council
Cassandra Metuisela Hobsons Bay City Council
Chloe Wegener Greater Geelong City Council
Diana McGowan Moreland City Council
Elisha Whyley Banyule City Council
Emily Harris Bass Coast Shire Council
Emma Gray Melton City Council
Evelyn Kai Afotey Wyndham City Council
Jessica Au Melton City Council
Kathleen Brack Bass Coast Shire Council
Lucinda O’Brien Moreland City Council
Megan O’Donnell Mount Alexander Shire Council
Nikhi Wagstaff Yarra City Council
Sabrina Krzywdzinski Greater Geelong City Council
Shamitha Kathurusinghe Stonnington City Council
Sinead Redmond Greater Geelong City Council
Thea Jones Nillumbik Shire Council

As well as their personal knowledge, the 2022 group is made up of diverse women from across Victoria, with different backgrounds and experiences. We’re excited to see the program participants spread their knowledge and experiences far and wide into their communities.

Christine Nixon appointed Chair of Leadership Victoria

Former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Christine Nixon AO, APM has been appointed Chair of Leadership Victoria, marking a significant milestone for the not-for-profit social enterprise at a time when strong leadership has never been more vital.

As the first female Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, leading 14,000 staff between 2001 and 2009, and leading the Victorian Bushfire Recovery after the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires, Christine is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges and opportunities of leadership in today’s society.

“Right now, we’re facing unprecedented challenges, from climate change to gender inequality to the ongoing effects of the COVID pandemic. In order to tackle these issues, we need leaders who are visionaries, who can bring people together to create lasting change,” she says.

“A great leader is someone who is able to draw on the strength of those they lead, and as Chair of Leadership Victoria, I’m looking forward to working with the board, management, and alumni to foster leadership that helps to solve some of the big issues, and greatest opportunities, within our community.”

Ms Nixon’s appointment comes at a time when Leadership Victoria is entering a strong new chapter, focusing on helping individuals, workplaces and communities to exercise the leadership required to tackle some of society’s more complex challenges, in order to create a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable society.

With an impressive list of alumni that includes Dr Bronwyn King AO, who is a world leader in the fight against big tobacco investment; Justin Hanney, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Melbourne; Vivienne Nguyen, Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission; and Dr Sonja Hood, President of the North Melbourne Football Club; the organisation is excited to work with Christine to inspire current and emerging leaders to create the collective action required to bring about change.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Christine to the role of Chair. Her experience and vision as a leader will be an asset to our organisation, as we aim to enable leadership that inspires, connects and transforms,” says Sally Hines, CEO of Leadership Victoria.

“Now more than ever, we need people who want to mobilise others to tackle tough societal challenges, and with Christine’s guidance, we’ve never been better placed to advance this type of adaptive leadership,” she adds.

Christine is also currently Chair of the Board of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Deputy Chair of the Board of Castlemaine State Festival. In 2017, she co-authored “Women Leading” with Amanda Sinclair.

About Leadership Victoria

Leadership Victoria is a not-for-profit, certified social enterprise that specialises in leadership development. For over thirty years, the organisation has been connecting and empowering leaders across business, government and community sectors, enabling them to exercise the leadership required to address complex challenges and contribute to positive social, environmental and economic outcomes.  Leadership Victoria’s programs purposefully connect leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to challenge and enable fresh thinking.  We facilitate powerful networks that endure beyond our programs, enabling leaders to amplify their leadership impact in their organisations, sectors and communities.  Find out more at https://www.leadershipvictoria.org/

For media enquiries, please contact:
Tamara Jenkins
Esencia Communications
Ph: 0400 525 996
E: tamara@esenciacommunications.com.au

The gift that keeps on giving

An LV leadership scholarship is a powerful thing.  

It takes a person with potential and purpose and opens the doors to a whole new level of understanding and capability, as well as a life-long network of others to share it with.  

Through them, it can impact their organisations and communities.   

It also makes the program experience richer for everyone by contributing to the diversity of voices, experiences and points of view in the conversations that are at the heart of LV’s programs. 

“I was aware of myself as a leader, but I was a leader for people who were the same as myself – the same outlook, the same motivation levels. Williamson gives you the skills to lead all people, not just the handpicked people,” says occupational therapist, business owner and Paralympian Dr Lisa Chaffey.  

Engineer turned community development leader Rushda Halith is also ‘doing’ her leadership differently. 

“Williamson gave me the skills to have open discussions, even when it’s not easy. I seek out people with views that challenge me and listen to understand where they are coming from.”   

For professional speaker, resilience coach and competitive golfer Mike Rolls, it was the opportunity to connect with others.  

“When you go through this intense experience, you create a leadership community. People bring this back to any organisation they work for and build capacity for everyone. It’s a multipronged and long-lasting impact.”   

Read more about our inspiring scholarship awardees in our first LV Leadership Scholarships Report 2020/21. 

You can help us to support more lifelong leaders by donating to the LV Scholarship Fund or talk to us about establishing a new scholarship through your company, foundation, alumni group or giving circle.  

A year of learning, a lifetime of contribution

The Williamson group of 2020 have now graduated, marking the end of their program experience. But really, it is just the start… of being lifelong leaders and LV alumni.  

And what an achievement this year has been.  

Everyone who contemplates the Williamson Leadership Program knows it is going to be challenging. But no one could have predicted that it would be challenging in quite the way it was.   

And that is a true challenge, isn’t it?  The one that comes from a place we weren’t expecting and had never imagined.  

Uncertainty, disruption and adaptation marked the year.   

The mixed feelings of the Williamson year reflect the mixed feelings of us all about this strange and difficult year. Powerlessness, unfairness and frustration, but also, sometimes, glimpses of possibility – new ways to see and be, and new connections forged in unfamiliar ways.  

The fact that this once-in-a-generation event coincided with a deep dive into leadership makes this past yearWilliamson experience truly unique.   

COVID and its reach into our society was the setting for a real-time, deeply felt, exploration of the challenges the Williamson program addresses.  

The true achievement is in how the 2020 Williamson cohort adapted and grew – and how they will continue to do so.  

So all of us in the LV community eagerly look on in support to see how this Williamson group will apply their year of unique insights and experiences; how they will use them to make sense of the world and contribute to creating a stronger society. 

Highlights of 2020

We want to take a moment to reflect and celebrate some of the highlights of this otherwise lowlight of a year. In particular, we want to celebrate the leadership, courage, determination and resilience of the LV, and Victorian, community 

We are celebrating more than 340 participants who developed their leadership skills and mindsets with us this year. 

Group of people smiling from Emerging Young Muslims Leadership Program 2020 Graduation

Most of us had no choice but to keep going this year – there was no opting out of 2020. But well done to LV’s newest alumni – the people and organisations who actively saw this as a real-time leadership challenge and – and a leadership workshop – and sought to build on their skills for themselves, their teams, their organisations and their purpose.  

“The Victorian LGBTIQ Leadership Program has made me more confident in my existing leadership abilities and helped me to further understand my personal strengths. The program also provided a wonderful opportunity to build a peer network and I now feel far more connected to the Victorian LGBTIQ community.” – Ellie  Watts, Victorian LGBTIQ Leadership Program participant

We are celebrating the spirit of inclusion, adaptation and access

Many of us felt like our lives were “on mute” this year, but let’s celebrate everyone who stepped up to adapt the ways they learnt and engaged this year, and some of the benefits arising from our virtual interaction. It probably wasn’t what we had in mind or hoped for, but our shift to virtual meant ongoing connection and the continued opportunity to learn and grow.  

For some of the LV community, participants in our programs this year, virtual delivery actually meant the difference between them being able to access leadership development at all – in particular some of our regional and rural participants and parents of young children.  

“The online format was challenging but actually had real benefits because it meant that we could include many women from country and rural Victoria who would not have been able to participate in face-to-face delivery” – Elycia Wallis, Women Leading Now Participant (CSIRO). 

We are celebrating the gift of giving (back) 

In this difficult year so many people in the LV community, alumni and supporters, gave their time, their knowledge and donated to the Leadership Victoria Foundation scholarships crowd funding. They gave as speakers, mentors, interview panel members and referred the next generation of leaders to Williamson and other programs.  

Some even initiated a new alumni-funded scholarship for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leader into Williamson and worked with their organisations to support more scholarships and funded places. As a result we have more scholarships for Williamson in 2021 than every before.

Thanks to:
Aboriginal Victoria | ANZ | Eastern Health Foundation | Islamic Council of Victoria | Victorian Rural Women’s Network | 2019 Williamson Alumni group and all alumni and supporters who contributed to the Leadership Victoria Foundation in 2020.

Introducing Leadership Victoria CEO, Sally Hines

We are thrilled that Sally Hines is starting as Leadership Victoria’s new CEO this week. Of course with COVID restrictions still in place in Melbourne, we aren’t able to meet in person just yet, so we asked Sally to say a few words and do a quick Q&A so you can get to know her.

Q: You are a Williamson alumna. What has stuck with you the most from your Williamson experience?

A: During my lockdown 1.0 Marie Kondo moment, I found the letter we had to write to ourselves at the start of Williamson. Amongst the many hopes and aspirations I had for myself included the desire to “think bigger, and without limits” and that is definitely what I hope to bring to LV.

Q: What do you see as your biggest leadership challenge?

A: I think my current challenge is about reimagining how I lead when I can’t rely on my standard toolkit. COVID has meant, that the way we do business, connect with others and achieve outcomes will be forever changed. Part of the challenge is getting beyond the disruption and seeing the opportunities that we can create together. For me as a leader, it means standing still is not an option- I need to be adaptable, flexible and continually innovating in order create meaningful impact and achieve my goals. This isn’t just in relation to COVID. Leadership always involves being able to see the bigger picture, the system, and finding ways to listen to others and bring them with you.

Q: Who – or what – inspires you?

A: Leaders who are brave and authentic- who are lead naturally and without pretence. It is not really the big names that I tend to gain inspiration from, but rather the quiet achievers, the people leading from within.

I’m reading Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Women and Leadership at the moment and there is a chapter that talks about the power of role-modelling and working with mentors and coaches- for me, an inspirational leader is someone that is willing to continue to learn, to accept when they are wrong, to be open to alternate points of view and committed to devoting time to developing others.

Q: What are three things you are personally looking forward to post-lockdown?

A: Spending time with friends and family in places more than 5km from my house

Eating fancy food in a restaurant!

Take my daughter to school 😉 Homeschooling has been quite the experience…..

Amanda Brook, Chair of Leadership Victoria, announces new CEO

The Leadership Victoria board and team are delighted to introduce Sally Hines as our new CEO.

Sally will be taking up her role from 1 September.

As a Williamson alumna (WCLP2016), program speaker and peer mentor, Sally is already part of the LV community.

Sally’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for LV, as we continue to evolve and adapt our mission of purposeful leadership for a better world.

She brings rich experience to LV from the social enterprise, not-for-profit and social service sectors, working at the forefront of cross-sectoral engagement to drive positive change.

Most recently Sally has been Chief Operating Officer at The Big Issue and Homes for Homes, leading these social enterprises to diversify and create partnerships across business, philanthropy, government and the social sector to achieve innovative solutions addressing homelessness.

Sally also has a depth of executive experience in the health, mental health and employment sectors, leading strategic decision-making and bringing together diverse teams, partnerships and stakeholders to support adaptation, sustainability and meaningful social and economic outcomes.

She also applies her purposeful leadership as a not-for-profit board member; currently Deputy Chair of Wallara and a non-executive director of Portsea Camp.

Over the coming months, the LV team will be in touch with opportunities to connect with Sally as we continue to adapt and adjust to new ways of engaging with our communities and our stakeholders.

I’m excited to have Sally leading our next phase and I hope that you will join me in extending her a very warm welcome!

Please stay safe and well.

Amanda Brook, Board Chair, 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?

And these Clan groups need your help!

Join our free virtual #togetherweclan session which kicks off 6:30 pm Wednesday, 2 September.

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.

Williamson 2021 Information Sessions

Williamson is a unique, immersive year-long program designed to transform the way you think about your leadership purpose.

The program is built on the premise of experimentation. It will push you to continually challenge how and why you lead. It will expand the way you see the world and change the way you exercise leadership. You will engage unusual voices and learn to mobilise and empower others to do extraordinary things in your organisation and community.

Want to know more about Williamson? Join one of our free info sessions, where you’ll learn more about the program structure and its impact straight from our amazing Alumni and facilitators.

Morning session – Tue, 28 July 2020 | 7:30am – 8:30am

Evening session – Thu, 6 August 2020 | 5:30pm – 6:30am