Smashing open the “thinking” box – Lessons in Leadership from the 2018 VRCLP Leadership Summit



Leadership. Many of us aspire to be a leader. We spend our working life trying to climb the ladder to get to a leadership position. Some of us get there and end up deciding leadership is not for us. Others shy away from being appointed to a leadership role – to having that official leadership title.  They don’t realise that they are a leader within their own right even though they don’t have the title. We sometimes forget that to be a leader you don’t need to have the fancy title to go with it; you don’t need to be the most experienced or qualified or senior person in the room. While we are so focused on being the leader we sometimes forget the importance of being a follower. Without followers, we wouldn’t have leaders. The First Follower video, explains this perfectly, and the dance moves are a laugh so if you haven’t seen it check it out:

I’ve just attended the Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program (VRCLP) 2018 Leadership Summit which was held here in Ballarat at Sovereign Hill. A perfect example of leadership, the 2018 Leadership Summit is everything your typical conference is not. With a diverse list of leaders hand picked to share their leadership journey and to push you outside your comfort zone by challenging your thinking on leadership, this year’s theme was Thriving Leadership for Thriving Communities. To add to the fun, the presenters were all dressed in Sovereign Hill costumes!


It’s these out of the box professional development opportunities that I get the most from. As I sat there listening to each of the speakers, taking notes when they offered gems of information, naturally you start to reflect and asses your own leadership journey. Where there are opportunities to develop, what are your values, am I an authentic leader, when should I lead and when should I follow. My mind has been abuzz with thoughts and reflections since.

Here are the key learnings (so simple reminders even) that I took away from this year’s Leadership Summit, hopefully they may help you too with wherever you are at in your leadership journey.

It’s ok to not know or have the answer

This is a trap that I have fallen in to on many occasions. I’ve felt the pressure as a Leader to be the one who has to know the answer; the one who has to have the solution to the problem for my followers. On the flip side I too have expected leaders I have followed to have the answers and to lead the way. Not having the answers doesn’t mean you are weak or not a good leader, or shouldn’t be in a leadership role. The most important thing is that you are ok with showing vulnerability; letting your followers know that you don’t know or have the answer instead of pretending to. Vulnerability in leadership is not a weakness but do you have the courage to show your vulnerability?

The power to choose your response

Sue Anderson from Unshakeable At Work really struck a chord with me and made me stop and think. No doubt you too have had situations where someone (maybe a team member, a manager, a client, a customer) has left you thinking……. that person makes me feel inadequate or irritated or happy or sad or angry. Sue took us on a journey to show us that no one can make you feel a particular feeling or emotion. We have the power to choose how we feel. We are empowered to choose how we respond. Even though it has only been two days since the Leadership Summit, being conscious of choosing how I can feel about a situation or a person and how I respond has created a shift in my thinking.

Self Awareness vs Practicing Self Awareness

I don’t think I have ever heard anyone admit to having no or low self-awareness. You can say you are self-aware but what are you doing to practice self-awareness? Like any skill, we can say that we have it but to be any good at it we need to continually practice it. You just need to google Self Awareness to be bombarded with ways you can improve your self-awareness. Presenter Bob O’Shea from Federation University shared with us his successful method for practicing self-awareness. Self-Reflection. Bob encouraged us to keep a journal. To describe what happened, our reaction – what did we think and feel, what we did or will do about it and to share it with someone else. Initially I thought that wouldn’t work for me, based on my previous track record of journaling (about other things not previously self-awareness), I start out strong and then after a period of time it drops away. However, I’m going to give it a go. For me I think it will be valuable to be able to look back over time and see patterns of feelings and thoughts. How are you practicing Self-Awareness?

With these key learnings swimming around in my head the value will now come in what I can take away and implement. To bring to life my notes and not simply leave them on the notepad to be filed away in the bottom of my desk draw for one day. “You can make a difference or you can keep things the same” Jason Clarke, Summit Facilitator.

If you missed this year’s Leadership Summit and think it might be something you could draw on for your personal and professional development you can find out more by visiting



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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 or by following Angela on LinkedIn.





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