Leadership: Tackling challenges and change in regional communities



In a world that is being disrupted by constant change and the rapid pace that change is occurring at, what worked for last year, last month, last week and even yesterday won’t keep working for us into the future. How does that then impact Leadership in our regional communities? How do the leaders in our communities engage community members and how do we develop our future leaders?

The inaugural 2016 Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program (VRCLP) Regional Leadership Summit was held in Bendigo on the 16th & 17th August. A comprehensive and diverse range of speakers filled the program with the most difficult decision being which concurrent presentation would I attend. The learning and networking opportunities flowed and the opportunity to step out of my day to day workplace, take a step back and look at the bigger leadership picture was incredibly valuable, both personally and professionally. To reflect on our leadership journey’s and invest the time to think and discuss what the future of leadership looks like in the changing landscape of regional communities is vitally important for the continued growth, development and collaboration of these communities.

It was hard to just pick ten; however here are the key ten take home messages for me from the 2016 Regional Leadership Summit:

  1. “Small changes done regularly and consistently creates dynamic growth” Nigel Collin, Founder Thinkativity. Look for the gap not for the next big idea.
  2. “Fixed vs Growth Mindset” Nigel Collin, Founder Thinkativity – As leaders we need to talk to our people with a growth mindset. It’s about how we behave, how we praise, what behaviours we model and encourage.
  3. Are you a “yes but” or a “yes and” person? Nigel Collin, Founder Thinkativity – A concept the Disney Institute implemented, “yes but” has been banned from being used. To think that by simply changing one word of our communication we can have a completely different impact on the way we think and respond to situations is extremely powerful.
  4. If we are to address Youth Unemployment we need to develop “entrepreneurial learning, skills and culture” Matt Pfahlert, Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)
  5. Still feeling blown away and in awe of the brilliant work ACRE, in partnership with Social Enterprise Academy, are doing with eleven schools across Victoria. The concept and process of students running a business in their school environment and the skills and learnings gained from that is exactly the type of learning experience we need to be providing to the future leaders of our communities. Real life experience, developing real life skills for the future. My only question is why are we not doing this in every school? Be inspired as I was and check out their video.

  1. There will be times in your life (personal and/or professional) where you will find yourself in a situation and in the blink of an eye; in the heat of the moment, you will be faced with a choice. You will need to decide if you are a leader; if you are going to step up to the plate and take action.  Rob Milton, joined the Army and was the youngest Lance Sergeant within his Regiment for decades. Sharing his experience of tours in Northern Ireland, the Omagh bombing and how a community rebuilds after experiencing such devastation, was powerful, thought provoking and left you trying to comprehend how you lead in that type of environment and under those circumstances. His comment about the best leaders are not always the extroverts or the people with the loudest voices is still ringing loud and true in my mind.
  2. Digital technology is changing and improving how we live and work as well as how we engage. To leverage digital technology in our communities we need to think differently about the experience we provide. Tim Gentle from Think Digital armed us with easy to use and apply tools and apps for providing a whole new and different experience. From entering a competition “What would you do if you won a bus” to turning that bus in to a digital classroom on wheels and taking it on a roadshow across regional communities, his why and ability to think differently is inspiring and motivating.
  3. Community is no longer defined by a geographical location or area. Communities are changing and will continue to change. People now may belong to many communities. We, as leaders, need to think differently about how we engage with people in these communities and develop our future leaders.
  4. The power is in the conversation. From the elegant welcome through to the conclusion of the Leadership Summit the room was buzzing with engaged, passionate people having valuable conversations. “Effective leadership starts with a conversation, not a solution” Panel Session moderated by James Ritchie, panel members: Lauren Andrews (Bendigo Bank), Craig Lapsley (Emergency Services Commissioner), Yvonne Wrigglesworth (Community Advocate) and Peter Kenyon (Bank of I.D.E.A.S.). The Leadership Summit absolutely created the opportunity and environment for effective leadership conversations to be had.
  5. And finally, my own key observation and take away from the Summit, in bringing together all of the invaluable information and experiences shared by not just the speakers but also the participants: Leaders come from all walks of life. From diverse backgrounds, from all different educational levels, from different industries and workplaces, some are extroverts and some are introverts. No two leaders are the same. They don’t need manager titles. They all have a story to tell, a passion, a desire to engage people in a conversation and a commitment to making their community better; innovative, collaborative and responsive. The question is how do we find and develop the leaders of the future, those who were not in the room at the Summit and how do we bring them to the table for these valuable conversations?

Congratulations to the Victorian Regional Community Leadership Programs (VRCLP) and the Leadership Programs across regional Victoria for delivering an innovative, fresh thinking and inspiring Leadership Summit. Looking forward to the 2017 Summit in Geelong and if you missed this years summit, I’d highly recommend getting it in your diary and building it in to your professional development plan for 2017.

Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.



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