21st Century Leadership experiences
By Kate Harris – APS Academy
In January this year, I was fortunate enough to attend the course, Leadership for the 21st Century - chaos, conflict and courage at Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge Massachusetts. There is something special about being in the location where a powerful movement of independence began - and Boston looked even more beautiful in the snow.
With a cohort of over 70 people, it was a pleasure meeting so many passionate people with differing contexts and shared dedication for being ‘future-ready’ for their organisations and nations.
Many like myself were from government organisations and had travelled from across the world to connect with each other, the learning opportunity and to embrace the diversity of our experiences.
My role within the Australian public service is to support the design and delivery of the Executive programs at the APS Academy, within the APSC. Many of our programs are built on a foundation of adaptive leadership that originated out of the highly regarded Harvard Kennedy school.
Therefore, whilst the content and concepts were not new, they were reaffirmed and deepened as critical tools for our role in supporting deep system change.
One of the key highlights of the program was working with several other Australian attendees and two in particular who brought a powerful voice to the First Nation’s perspectives. Their powerful advocacy and commitment to working with and leading a way forward, was exemplary, and provided many insights for people from across the world.
Another highlight was meeting staff from the Canadian School of Public Service – our equivalents from half way around the world.
It was wonderful to hear of the alignments and indeed differences on what we are seeing and sensing within our nations.
One of the biggest learnings for me was a realisation that patience and care is such an important part of this work.
Through the navigation of such tools as hindsight and foresight, I realised how whilst it might not feel like we are making progress, over time our impact is significant. We slowed down our pace of needing answers and learned how to meaningfully see through the eyes of others. Abstract art was just one tool to enable sense making through and with others.
We contemplated historical events and how changed occurred and we sat with stories of failures. Our cohort based learning continues. We remain connected across the globe with daily messages continuing to inspire and support all of our missions of service.
Many of my insights were around how do we best make progress collectively? What do we let go of?
What best serves us and therefore what we should seek to conserve - and what does growth look like?
“I ask you to consider what you have achieved over the last 5 years and 10 years. What are you most proud of and what would you still like to achieve? How have others benefited from your legacy and how will you work with them to deliver for them? How will these reflections shape your direction moving forward?"
Kate Harris, Leadership Development Lead, APS Academy
I will continue to ask myself these questions, and during Leadership and Management month. I encourage you also to take a moment to reflect on these questions.
What are your achievements and the importance of your contribution to the Australian Public Service and what is possible through you and your powerful collective leadership with others?
I look forward to hearing your APS leadership story.