Developing leadership a sound investment
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and "recognising the reality of needing to prepare for chaotic circumstances" led Sarah Leo to a life-changing experience as part of the University of Adelaide’s Transformative Leadership Program.
As the Chief Operating Officer of Resonate Consultants, a national acoustic engineering and vibration consulting firm, Sarah was surrounded by colleagues with expert technical skills.
With that in mind, Sarah knew she needed to develop her strategic thinking and ability to resolve complex issues if she was to grow the firm, unlock new opportunities, and support the firm to thrive in an ever increasing VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment.
"Leading the business through the pandemic really emphasised how many of the traditional skills that leaders have are no longer enough for the modern world," Sarah says.
"We quickly realised we were dealing with circumstances that in years gone by, we would have considered impossible. Every day presented something new, and it really showed how critical dealing with and managing people is to an organisation’s success.
"There was no handbook, no textbook that we could follow for the challenges we were dealing with."
After receiving an Industry Leaders Fund grant, and reflecting on that experience, Sarah enrolled in the Transformative Leadership Program (TLP).
Held over a four-month period and run by the University of Adelaide’s Professional and Continuing Education (PACE), the TLP is a ground-breaking program designed to develop complex and adaptive thinking capacities in today’s leaders.
Among the program’s alumni are South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, and prominent SA business leaders Gibson Wines CEO Chad Elson, Brown Falconer Director Christie Bailey, Northern Adelaide Local Health Network executive director of Aboriginal health Kurt Towers, and SA Jockey Club CEO Grant Mayer.
Participants undertake online interactive sessions, assignments and face-to-face intensives from esteemed global leadership experts, educators and also benefit from prominent guest speakers.
Leaders are provided with opportunities to instil and apply the lessons learned to their organisation context.
Sarah credits much of the TLP’s success to its facilitators.
"The program facilitators are brilliant and had an unwavering commitment to our development throughout the entire program," she says.
"There wasn’t a set agenda they followed, it was fluid so that they were able to read the room and identify where we needed the most support and shape the content so that it was of most benefit to our specific group.
"It was invaluable to participate with a cohort of other leaders, all from very diverse backgrounds and sectors, who all have a desire to learn, be vulnerable, and grow.
"We expanded our networks, connected with other leaders we’d probably never cross paths with professionally otherwise and made what will likely become lifelong friendships. One year after completing the TLP and we still catch up monthly and continue to remind one another of the TLP concepts and language and encourage each other.
"I’ve been involved with many leadership programs, short courses, read countless books, watched hours of webinars and attended lots of seminars, but nothing can compare to the Transformative Leadership Program."