Last year I was privileged to participate in the inaugural Executive Leaders Program (XLP) delivered by LG Professionals, SA and facilitated by Andrew Stevens, Diana Renner and Barry Bales. It is without a doubt the best professional leadership program I have attended and it has made a lasting and positive impact on me from both a personal and professional perspective. Andrew, Diana and Barry gave so much of themselves during the program, which inspired participants to do the same and to embrace the ideas and ways of thinking they shared, and the thoughts and reflections they inspired.
I’ve completed an MBA and attended various leadership programs over the years, which focus on building the skills, competencies, expertise and knowledge to do the job. While all of this is important, it won’t help you become a better leader. We can become better at the activity of leadership by broadening perspectives, thinking deeper, reflecting and focusing on vertical development, and this is exactly what the XLP delivers.
I learned that to be a more effective leader, I need to be able to pause and take the time to think deeper and be more observant to interpret our world from a range of perspectives. The program showed me that I need to embrace complexity to become more effective working in complex situations and to become comfortable in a world that is increasingly more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
To get the most out of this program I had to step out of my comfort zone, embrace self-reflection and question some of my ingrained assumptions, behaviours, biases and mores. I learned that self-reflection is an effective way to confront my anxieties and enables me to focus on the development of judgement, rather than applying technical skills.
The program was not about being ‘fixed’ or to tip everything I knew on its head (although some of what is learned is counter intuitive to traditional ways of teaching). Most of us are excellent at what we do and we have extensive knowledge and skills in our respective roles, so we don’t need more expertise per se. However, we can benefit from the insights that the program delivers as it provides deeper understanding and impetus for our continual improvement as people and leaders.
I went into the program thinking I needed to be fixed—I had allowed myself to get caught up in the noise and cycle of busyness, and I was stressed and frustrated. I am eternally grateful to Andrew, Diana and Barry for renewing my thoughts, recalibrating my approach and helping me steer towards a path that has led me to greater happiness, confidence and productivity. The XLP gave me the opportunity to get back to focussing on being my best self, and I love the journey that the program has inspired me to embrace. I am making time to work on my passion, which is to write, and I have commenced learning meditation and mindfulness. More recently I have come across stoicism, which provides another opportunity for me to learn and continue to improve and be a better person.
The experience that is the XLP means something different to each of us who participate. My experience outlined above is unique to me, but I know the other participants also have similarly positive stories to tell. Being a member of the alumni of the XLP is something I am very proud of. We shared an amazing journey together and the most rewarding outcome is the great friendships I now have.
If you are after a traditional leadership program, then the XLP is not for you. If you want to challenge your thinking and seek an opportunity to take a deeper, more thoughtful and nuanced insight into yourself and the activity of leadership that provides you with new thinking, approaches, inspiration and perspectives to augment your expertise in your field, then I highly recommend you sign up for the XLP in 2019.
Director Infrastructure & Environmental Services at Renmark Paringa Council