NZIM – Leadership: Future focus

Reg Birchfield: What are the most important challenges facing managers today?
Gary Sturgess: Managers must be adequately prepared to meet all manner of expected and unanticipated commercial challenges. They must be skilled and trained to the highest levels so challenges can be seen instead as opportunities.

RB: Is that where NZIM has role to play?
GS: Because the challenges, both local and global, are constantly widening and changing, NZIM is more relevant to business managers and leaders today than it has ever been. There are, however, some problems with the term “management”. Leadership has, over the past decade, become the new buzz word. That said, I don’t believe manager can be successful through leadership skills alone – unless leadership is defined broadly to include such critical professional skills as decision-making, strategic and operational planning and delegating.
We must improve the practice of management and, NZIM is the leading provider in this space.

RB: What can and should NZIM deliver to managers and leaders in future?
GS: We must focus on maintaining and delivering our traditional high quality and relevant courses, programmes and events. But we must do more to help organisations develop their people and strengthen their enterprises by:
• Synthesising leading-edge research and making it accessible to busy managers.
• Providing opportunities for managers to share their management problems online and receive support and advice from peers.
• Forming international partnerships to bring speakers, knowledge and opportunities to members.
• Being globally focused and locally contextual.
• Developing advocacy programmes.
• Providing networking and conference opportunities.
• Continuing to promote the Young Executive of the Year Awards.
• Providing personal and organisational solutions rather than training brokerage.
In summary, we must more effectively deliver organisations what they need to build their management capability, credibility, capacity and to help them grow and develop their export potential. We need to encourage organisations to become passionate about personal and professional development as an ongoing process.

RB: How can NZIM show how relevant it is to management and leadership development?
GS: We must more clearly define our value proposition. We will promote the brand more effectively and show through case studies and the like, just what results NZIM can help organisations achieve.

RB: What are some of the biggest challenges now facing organisations?
GS: Securing sales targets and professionally managing company cash flows. Businesses must be prepared to meet competition from expected and unexpected sources. And they need to ensure that their people management and overall organisational approach to running successful business is second to none.
Many enterprises are also facing reducing incomes and workforces. There is both local and global competition for market share and pressure to deliver more for less.
There is also tendency to embrace talent management systems that focus on the development of the “few” when organisations still need the “many” to manage the employees who deliver the products and services. When that happens, the “many” get disengaged.
And with many decision makers based offshore, local companies see themselves as little more than branches with limited or no decision-making capability. The result is disenfranchised workers and managers asking what is in it for them?
There are probably still too many stick rather than carrot led organisations.

RB: NZIM is talking about its own restructuring to meet the demands of the future – can you explain what is happening and how it is important for members?
GS: NZIM is clarifying its vision of the future and redefining why it exists. It is also focusing on what future products and services it will need to deliver.
A little over year ago, NZIM members regionally voted to merge their regions into one entity. The benefits are clear.
The financial status of the three regions will be consolidated into one financial entity. The operational delivery of new agreed mission, vision, value and culture will provide the direction and leadership toward achieving an agreed future strategy. Members will then enjoy the benefits of one organisation that has clear national direction with regional delivery.
These changes are critical to ensuring the future strength and effectiveness of NZIM.
Effective facilitation of increased levels of employment and management engagement are critical to lifting New Zealand’s productivity and competitiveness. Leadership and management skills are needed to guide, coach and build the strength of individuals and teams in all organisations.

RB: Are you optimistic about the state of management in New Zealand and its capacity to deliver what the country needs?
GS: I am. We do, however, need more and better forward planning. It is not enough to just maintain the current professional management base. We must get better at anticipating the future needs of business and what it will take to build management capability to meet those needs. NZIM will work with other organisations to achieve what is best for the country.
The Government talks about how important it is to lift productivity. Middle management plays critical role in this strategy and process. NZIM’s opportunity is to reinvent itself through national integration and strengthen its membership communications strategy in each region to be more supportive of all members and users of NZIM services.

RB: What is your personal vision for NZIM?
GS: To ensure that it retains its leading national business and professional status and profile. The NZIM brand is strong, but it must become even more widely recognised as being synonymous with quality-driven and value-based training and member services.
NZIM must be recognised as the “go-to” management organisation to which all aspiring and practising managers and leaders want to belong. There is great scope for NZIM to reach even further into the regions to take new opportunities to businesses. I want to see us broaden and strengthen our membership base.
NZIM must offer selection of programmes and courses that are nationally consistent with regions adding tailored learning solutions to meet the needs of their local members, managers and leaders.
The ideal future position would be to have high level of engagement with New Zealand managers (present and future), corporate and public sector organisations that deliver programmes and services that build capabilities which deliver tangible and measurable market results. M

Reg Birchfield Life FNZIM, is writer on leadership and management. [email protected]

Gary Sturgess, Life Fellow of NZIM

Joined the Southern Division of NZIM in 1977.
President of Otago and Taranaki divisions and served on the Central Board.
Joined Auckland division in 2001 and Northern Board in 2003.
Became vice president in November that year.
NZIM Northern Chair from 2005 to 2009 and served on National Board of NZIM.
Appointed Justice of the Peace in 1989.
More than 30 years in corporate management. Appointed chief executive of Hospice South Auckland in May 2008.

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