Foundry News

Cultivating future leaders for the water industry

Posted on November 29 2018

Do you want to be empowered in your own ability to lead and inspire leadership in others?

Leadership coach, Futurist and Educator, Tathra Street, believes in empowering people at every level to behave as leaders, to do the best they can with what they have and to step up and make a difference. Her podcast, Tall Poppy, focussing on a new, human-centred style of leadership, has been downloaded over 20,000 times by listeners across 17 countries.

Tathra and Foundry have teamed up to deliver a unique, Leadership Foundations Program for Young Water Professionals. We asked Tathra to tell us about her approach and what participants can expect from the program.

What is the reasoning behind the creation of this program?

Currently, we don’t get a lot of training in leadership skills, especially in light of how fast things are changing and the importance of what I think of as future proofing skills. These are things like people skills, understanding power dynamics, how to help someone feel more comfortable after a major setback, or how to include diverse perspectives to get a better outcome.

The problem is that people, generally, lead based on what they have learned from people who have an old school style of leadership. A lot of people come to me and say, “I am not leading in line with my values, I’m noticing myself being directive, when I want to be collaborative.”

Gallup has been telling us for years that about three quarters of our workforce is disengaged. Part of that is there is this outdated idea that we have to bring our professional selves to work, rather than our whole selves to work.

The work I do is at the intersection of person and professional development. It’s about recognising that the barriers to leadership are often personal and when we can overcome those, people feel empowered in their own leadership and lead more effectively.

This program reflects my belief in empowering people to create environments where we can bring all of ourselves to work, allowing more humanness at work, remaining professional, without having to eclipse our humanity.

Tell us about your approach to leadership coaching?

Human-centred leadership focusses on Integrated Intelligence. It’s about looking at the different kinds of intelligences and how they impact the way we lead. Focusing on inspiration over influence.

These include Emotional Intelligence and Power Intelligence, which is about recognising the role that rank and power play in things like influence, different ways to get groups of people to work together and how to bring in different ways of thinking.

There’s also World View Intelligence – a recognition we each have a different perspective influenced by things like ethic origin, education and gender.

The last one brings it all together is Collective Intelligence. This can simply be facilitating, but it is also utilising all those different things to generate the wisdom of the group to understand what it is we know together, that we don’t know on our own.

Can you give us an example of how human-centred leadership helps people personally and professionally?

Human-centred leadership fosters a more holistic and creative approach to problem solving. This is because our decisions are often based on the assumptions we make about a problem, which doesn’t generate robust solutions.

Being curious helps us illuminate some of the assumptions we make. When we talk to people about what they know about either the problem, or the solution, or both, it is more fruitful than the common ethos of “If I am the leader, I should make the decision.”

Deciding to consult, inquire and shed those assumptions can really make a difference in generating robust, more innovative solutions compared to the traditional ways of problem solving.

What will young water professionals (YWP) learn from doing this program?

How to be more effective in their role and bring their best self to work in a way that acknowledges their own humanity and the humanity of the people they work with.

I think they will feel empowered in their own ability to lead and to inspire leadership in others. It’s about equipping people with the skills to make better decisions, to effectively navigate challenges, get comfortable having difficult conversations and be the kind of leader that is going to ultimately lead us into a future we want to create, rather than the default future that is happening to us.

It sounds lofty, but the program is very practical and will provide the skills to be adaptable, confident with decision making and lead in line with their values. The feedback I get from my leadership coaching is that people really like that they come up with their own answers and apply it to what they are doing on the ground.

It will also help people manage up in a way that is respectful, and when managing other people, to get the best out of their team by helping them to see things like context, nuances in checking assumptions, inviting curiosity, flexibility and being with uncertainty.

Foundry’s Leadership Foundations Program starts on 4 February 2019. Contact Foundry on (08) 9088 2011 today to reserve your place.

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