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Our Development Philosophy

Rather than plunging you deep into our learning pedagogy, there are really just a few things you should know about us.  Some basic core principles which underpin leadership development at NZLI.

Firstly, we see leadership as a modus operandi. This means we don’t believe leadership is tied to position, or confined to the grand heroic gestures of a select few.  We see leadership embedded in everyday practice.  A way of thinking and being, rather than a collection of generic tools to draw on.  Practice is a word that floats around the NZLI office quite a lot.  Probably because it reflects an approach to leadership that is ongoing and relational, where context is integral, and people are core.  Our programmes hinge on the development and refinement of key leadership practices that we consider critical. It goes without saying that this sort of learning doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time, patience, support and intentionality. 

Secondly, we’re not interested in ‘quick fixes’ or dealing with issues that already have proven solutions.  That is not the terrain of leadership.  We believe leadership inherently sits in the zone of complexity where there is no ‘right’ way and where uncertainty and ambiguity abound.  Defaulting to a rational, linear or pre-planned approach simply won’t work.  People are required to improvise, get their hands dirty and engage others in the process.  And it’s not all fame and glory.  It’s damn hard work.  Our approach is very well suited to the challenges that are endemic in dynamic, complex environments and we believe in the real shifts that are possible.

Thirdly, we are not the oracle.  Whilst we have proven expertise in the field of leadership facilitation, we do not have all the answers.  Concepts are not presented as ‘absolute truths’ but as robust and provocative ideas to be shaped and evolved.  We rely on our participants to ground the content and development process in this way.  In this sense, context is critical, so to attempt leadership development without any regard for one’s own context would be somewhat pointless.

And last, but by no means least, our development process is inextricably linked to our leadership research.  The two exist in a self-perpetuating loop, where one informs the other.  On the ground, that means that our development programmes translate cutting-edge research into relevant and applied leadership practices, which in turn contribute to theory-building in the field of leadership research.  It is this interplay between research and development that makes us so unique in the area of leadership development in New Zealand.