Backup: A Lot of Leadership

Leadership, or more accurately perceived shortage of it, is still top-of-mind topic with managers. Surveys, including the newly created New Zealand Institute of Management’s Management Capability Index, highlight the importance of the issue and suggest that good leadership is critical to success, but still in short supply.
NZIM established its Capability Index to identify where improvements in our management capability should be made and to create an international benchmark against which our performance can be measured. The survey ranked visionary leadership as the single most important driver of management capability. People leadership was another of the eight drivers identified for the survey.
The survey showed that on both these leadership counts, our capability is relatively low, compared to our top scoring capability driver – financial management. What the visionary and strategic leadership score indicates is that there is plenty of opportunity to practise it more consistently and widely throughout organisations. And with people leadership capability scoring slightly lower on the index table, there is even more room for improvement.
By year’s end at least three new initiatives to promote leadership in New Zealand were either in the offing or already off the ground. The first, Leadership New Zealand, is pan-community project committed to developing and promoting “culture of leadership” across the whole spectrum of our society. Auckland Regional Council chief executive Jo Brosnahan is the driving force behind setting up trust that is now gathering supporters and funding for the venture.
Leadership New Zealand is modelled on Australia’s Leadership Victoria which, by the way, has agreed in principle to work closely with its New Zealand counterpart. Support for the initiative is growing and already the trust has presented the idea to potential major backers in Wellington and Auckland. Its first cornerstone sponsors look likely to be announced early in the new year, with Vodafone – which has strong corporate commitment to developing leaders at all levels of its organisation – the first to make firm pledge.
At the other end of the spectrum is Auckland University’s Leadership Institute, headed now by former health sector chief executive Lester Levy. This Institute will link closely to the university’s new $30-million business school and grew out of the Knowledge Wave Trust. Telecom, Fonterra, Westpac and Deutsche Bank chief executives have all given verbal support to the idea. Departing university chancellor John Hood says the move is response to calls to strengthen leadership training in New Zealand.
And in Wellington, the Government this year set up its Leadership Development Centre to lift leadership capacity and competence within the public sector.
Suddenly leadership has gone beyond rhetoric. The dialogue is taking place at all levels and some very concrete initiatives are out there. There may be some initial confusion over who is doing what but the tangible effort that is being made to deliver on very real need is good news for New Zealand.

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