EDITORIAL Leaders Make Connections

What is leadership? How critical is it? And is New Zealand short of real leaders? As American author and leadership professor William Rosenback said when he visited New Zealand last year, 15,000 plus books have been written on the topic. It’s indicative of our preoccupation with the issue. Our cover story is timed to coincide with the International Leadership Summit being held in Auckland this month. We decided to set the scene and ask seven of New Zealand’s highest profile leaders what their leadership challenges are. We then invited Wellington-based futurist Robin Dunston to write short essay on the future of leadership.
We found general consensus that New Zealand is not only short on leaders, it has traditionally skimped on developing them. We do not, as Auckland Regional Council CEO and leadership advocate Jo Brosnahan puts it, “foster leadership culture”. And that, in the opinion of Christchurch author and leadership consultant Peter Cammock, is dangerous. “Leadership may prove crucial to the survival and transformation of our world,” he says in his book The Dance of Leadership. The phrase is surely an understatement. And that is the point. Being short of leaders is one thing. There is, thankfully, more going on to address the issue. This month’s Leadership Summit, for instance, brings some of the biggest names in the leadership world to share their views and experiences. And in the past year three organisations have been established to build leaders in the community, in the public sector and in enterprise. But, are our existing leaders focused on the key issues? If not, that is another thing altogether. We asked small but important sample to tell us what challenges them.
Leadership is quality and capability we must foster but, it is important that both existing and upcoming leaders know what to focus on, and not just how to succeed in meeting financial performance targets. Leadership is about making connections. Connections between what organisations do to feed into the economy and society and the consequences of those actions. As Cammock suggests, leadership is universal and involves all of us and is process in “which we all have responsibility”. Leadership requires more than skill and is matter of “emotion, identity and character” or what he calls “soul”. And leadership requires “holistic approach”. It is, he says, “about the connection of personal and public leadership, of rationality and feeling, head and heart, mind and soul”. If our leaders don’t make the right connections we will have leadership crisis that runs deeper than simply being short of individuals with leadership capabilities.

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