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Kick off your leadership in 2021

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The disruption of 2020 highlighted the importance of effective leadership. As organisations attempted to deal with the crisis and the way we worked changed, leaders with resilience, empathy and vision got the best out of their organisations and their people.

Successful leaders were decisive, flexible and authentic in their decision making. A compassionate approach also became crucial in a time when personal and professional lives are increasingly intertwined, and there is a strong link between personal and professional growth among the best leaders.

To help you start the new year on the right foot, our leadership experts shared their top strategies for leading effectively in 2021.


Peter Blyde

Peter Blyde has been at the forefront of executive leadership development in New Zealand for over 25 years. He consults public and private organisations throughout Australasia, focusing on advanced leadership, executive teams, resilience and leading change. He facilitates Executive Education’s short courses Emotional Intelligence: Engaged Leadership and Leadership that Motivates High Performance.

Key advice for leading in 2021
Self-awareness is at the heart of your emotional intelligence. There are two options for deepening self-awareness: reflection and feedback. Pick (at least) three people you will seek feedback from over the year about the impact of your leadership style and behaviour.

“To keep working at pace, you need to create space in your week for reflection. Be intentional in setting aside the smallest amount of time you believe you can sustain (even when you’re busy) to step back from the hustle and bustle. Reflect on your priorities and how the way you’re leading is helping or getting in the way.”

Actionables you can start today
Have a clear leadership development plan which answers these three questions:

  1. What is the one organisational change that will best set up your organisation for future success that you can put your shoulder to?
  2. What change, in one to two leadership behaviours, will transform your leadership effectiveness?
  3. Over the next month, what actions will you take outside your comfort zone?

Andrew Melville

Andrew Melville is a facilitator, coach and storyteller. He facilitates Executive Education’s short course the Art of Storytelling.

Key advice for leading in 2021
“It is more important than ever before to embrace storytelling as our most powerful communication tool and ensure our storytelling is authentic and truthful.

“We must observe the motivation and intention behind storytelling and its effect on us psychologically and physiologically. The stories we tell ourselves and others are the keys to our resilience, our revival and our survival, in professional and personal life.”

Actionables you can start today
Learn to connect, motivate and influence with stories that matter:

  1. Closely observe your daily sources of information and how stories influence your thinking. Which stories stick with you, which do you trust?
  2. Chart the stories you consume, both professionally and for recreation, and monitor their impact on your thinking.
  3. Make time to journal or keep a diary of the stories you consume and the stories you share.

Brigid Carroll

Professor Brigid Carroll is the Fletcher Building Employee Education Fund Chair in Leadership and a professor in the Department of Management and International Business. She facilitates Executives Education’s Leadership Mindset Programme.

Key advice for leading in 2021
Did you know there are three different meanings of practice? These can all be applied to leadership.

  1. Carrying out leadership – having a leadership identity and mindset and consciously applying it to contexts
  2. The routine or habits connected to leadership – building up a repertoire of processes, responses and strategies that enable leadership to be carried out
  3. The repeated performance of leadership to embed it – experimenting with those processes, responses and strategies, improving them and learning from each attempt

Actionables you can start today
From experience we see that people need support and recognition for all three meanings of practice. They need the space to enact it, the resources to develop their practice repertoire and support for ongoing and continual learning and adapting. This is a good moment to reflect on whether you are actioning these three versions of practice and whether you have sought to put them in place for others around you.

Executive Education hope you find this article helpful and relatable. If you have any feedback or would like to suggest areas for advice from our experts please email exec@auckland.ac.nz.


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