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Learning and curiosity: A leadership advantage

What does brave leadership look like? Leading selflessly, serving more than yourself and doing more than what’s expected in times of uncertainty. That’s brave leadership. It’s the courage needed despite the inherent fear. It’s about building others, praising innovation and recognising and appreciating loyalty. Courage in leadership is a well-documented requirement. Leaders who show courage are almost always supported by their staff. These are the leaders who venture into unchartered territory, commit to change and demonstrate integrity. They are respected by their teams and their stakeholders and most always seen as trustworthy allies. Brave leadership is built on a clear sense of self and on the cornerstones of tangible values.

Wellington-based leadership consultancy, Tocker Associates believes the other opportunity for leaders to embrace is curiosity. Ali and Sarah Tocker are a strong mother-daughter team with a 20+ year reputation in leadership development and strategic planning. They have supported leaders in a variety of large businesses nationally and internationally, as well as not for-proft organisations.

Tocker Associates strongly believes that curiosity and inclusive diversity can be the bridge in an era of uncertainty and fear. When leaders are afraid, the temptation is to hide that fear or to create safety nets within systems, layers of process, business cases and bureaucracy. Great leaders wonder about why they’re afraid. They voice that fear and then find the right people to support them to address it directly. They invite uncertainty in and sit down at the table with it.

Ali Tocker says curious leaders are easy to spot. “One of the best leaders I’ve worked alongside with, was someone who trusted millennials, who trusted people with diverse views, and let them run with an idea,” she says. They’re the ones you hear asking questions of themselves and of their own limitations, and then going out and doing something about it. They are continuous learners.

“We work with people who want to keep on developing. Those who seek to create a sense of momentum” says Sarah.

“These are the kinds of people who constantly seek to understand their role within their organisations, and try to create or recreate space where they can value the differences within their teams”.

“We love working with people who are eager to look at their leadership as an evolving skill. People who are interested to learn and develop alongside their teams, and who put ideas into practice. They’re also highly likely to deliver results during uncertain times, because they’re filling the knowledge gaps by working with the people around them”.

A pivotal question for leaders is “what is it like to be on the receiving end of yourself?"

Ali believes it’s the insight that comes from answering this question that leads people to know not just what they offer, but what they are surrounding themselves with to provide balanced views. “Leadership is absolutely a team sport, and the more uncertain the world seems, the more diverse the teams need to be, she says.

The Tockers’ ability to customise and build bespoke solutions for their clients enables them to close the gap between leadership theory and real-life results. It’s this philosophy that sparked the interest of The Skills Organisation last year. Partnering with one of the country’s largest Industry Training Organisation’s, providing work-based qualifications and consultation, Ali and Sarah are able to work with people throughout Aotearoa.

The New Zealand of 2019 and beyond is filled with a complexity of new and old challenges. The hard conversations that the country will have in the coming months and years will be about the skills that are valued, celebrating diversity and sustainable practice. Courage and curious leaders are the ones who will guide Aotearoa / New Zealand there. 

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