NZIM Leadership and Legacy

You have lead the New Zealand Institute of Management for seven years, what accomplishments do you feel most proud of?
Through the period I have been national president, and more recently national chairman, NZIM has moved from being primarily New Zealand’s professional management body, short course provider and owner of basic management qualifications, to playing key role in developing management and leadership as key contributor to the country’s economic performance.

We refocussed our strategy to reflect management needs and to play an increasing role in the country’s future prosperity and the future of individuals who choose management as career.

The greatest accomplishment has been gaining increasing acceptance and understanding that business performance and business growth are, above all, the result of management capability.

The watershed in lifting our contribution to New Zealand and to management came when we set our objective: “New Zealand performing in top half of OECD countries by 2008”.

To support this objective we defined the measurement of our mission and vision as, “New Zealand management is in the upper quartile in the international comparative measurements of management capability / performance by 2008”. This resulted in significant shift in the culture and focus of NZIM Inc.

I am proud of the significant contribution we now make to management training and education in New Zealand.

By developing NZIM’s Young Executive of the Year programme to where it is part of the prestigious Deloitte/Management magazine Top 200 awards, we have given new impetus to development and recognition of future leaders.

The increasing importance of the international dimension of management has been supported by the development of international linkages – with the Australian Institute of Management for leading edge management training programmes, National Safety Council of Australia for workplace health and safety management training, IMD in Switzerland for the annual World Competitiveness Survey, American Management Association (AMA) providing their membership privileges to our members, and The Asian Association of Management Organisations (AAMO). In 2002 NZIM took over the leadership of AAMO and I was elected President. This gives us an opportunity to lead and influence the direction AAMO takes in the interests of all management in the Asia / Pacific region.

Potentially the most important accomplishment has been the establishment of the Management Development Advisory Council (MDAC). We played leadership role in establishing MDAC, along with representation from Business New Zealand, State Services Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and key management leaders. While MDAC is still in its formative stages it has the potential to be the key future influence on management education, practice and performance in New Zealand.

Why do you feel these achievements were important?
NZIM trained and developed managers now provide the essential leadership to many of our public and private organisations. Tens of thousands of individuals have been trained and developed by dedicated professionals and NZIM has made substantial contribution to the growth and prosperity of New Zealand, to our continuing economic development and sustained economic performance.

Many organisations would simply not exist if there had not been supply of our trained or qualified managers available.

What else would you have liked to accomplish but didn’t quite achieve?
We have not achieved as much as I would have liked in getting government understanding and acceptance of the fact that effective leadership and management is key factor in the efficient performance of national and local government, and in the delivery of education, health and other services. We have been frustrated in our attempts to have effective and responsive linkages between what is required and the unit standards as defined in the NZQA framework.

The Knowledge Wave conferences have been catalyst for focus on the need to be knowledge driven, but the benefits can be delivered only through lifting the capability of management – firstly today’s practicing managers, and in later years through tomorrow’s business schools graduates.

We have not gained acceptance that management is key factor in the country’s economic performance.

How do you feel about the state of management in New Zealand now compared with 1990 when you first took office?
I have difficulty comparing with 1990. However sustained economic performance is increasingly the result of the performance of New Zealand managers in thousands of individual businesses and other organisations.

Many of our managers are recognised internationally or play key role on the world stage. But that is not happening enough back here.

The work of the Business Excellence Foundation repeatedly tells us that very few New Zealand organisations are world class. Our management practice surveys have repeatedly told us over the past few years that the performance of New Zealand managers in their management of human resources is, if anything, declining. Managers seem to understand what is required but are not delivering. The result is New Zealand managers are not achieving the potential of their organisations. There is more capability there than is being delivered.

Management is still weak at building long-term vision of where the organisation wants to go and what it needs to do to achieve its strategic goals, and in the management of human resources. We are still too focused on short-term financial performance, with insufficient focus on strategies to ensure the organisation is positioned to take advantage of change. The pressures of the day capture managers’ minds and the management of HR comes last. Too many managers manage rather than lead, they are captured in an environment of complexity and of responding to issues rather than providing strategic leadership to their organisations. When the environment changes many organisations and managers are unprepared and/or unable to cope with it.

There is shortage of competent chief executive potential. At the CEO level it is difficult to find enough candidates capable of taking responsibility for the entire organisation. There are plenty of specialists, but they have not developed significantly outside their particular area of expertise or profession.

Are you optimistic about the future of management in New Zealand?
Absolutely. Just attend one of our focus groups or other activities and you will hear the passion that managers demonstrate to find new ways to learn, to share and to grow personally. I see growing recognition that managers must be more than just trained in classroom to be capable – they must have the capability to deliver the highest levels of business and organisational performance – they want to know how to get it. Organisations are seeking new ways to develop their managers’ skills, competencies and capabilities.

Why are you optimistic?
The understanding that management capability is important to organisational performance is gaining traction.

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