The ARLF leadership blog

Leadership is needed in a world of grey

23 March 2022

Two experiences I have been part of over the past fortnight stand out in relation to our work. 

Firstly, Australian Rural Leadership Program Course 27 had their final session and graduation in Canberra. 

It has not been an easy road for this cohort as they, like so many Australians, have been buffeted by the winds of change driven by a certain pandemic. 

The group started in state-based hubs, managed to get together in southern New South Wales and the ACT for session two. They just made it into the Kimberley before the window shut and went through (as our team did) about four versions of their final session which was planned to be in another country before landing back in Canberra. 

There are two ways the group could have handled this – to focus on their loss and expectation gaps and withdraw, or to understand that our context is continually shifting and to contribute fully to the experiences in front of them.

I’m proud to say the group embraced the latter path. The world is more often shades of grey than it is black and white, and it is in this world of grey that leadership is needed. Special mention to Victorian participants who were unable to be part of the whole program. We are working with them on alternate options.

The graduation ceremony, attended by the cohort, family members, sponsors, alumni and Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Patrons Tim Fairfax and Sir Peter Cosgrove was a moving celebration of individual and collective leadership growth. It was a timely reminder of the impact of our experiential learning approach and why creating the space and time for programs such as this remains so important to rural, regional, and remote Australia.

Secondly, I had the pleasure of spending a few days on the Eyre Peninsula with our Associate and ARLP Course 21 graduate Tanya Lehman and our own Simone Carroll-Germech to deliver one of the Drought Resilient Leaders Development Programs funded by the Commonwealth under the Future Drought Fund. Our local alumni, in particular Craig Haslam, Helen Lamont, Leith Whittaker and Lukina Lukin also deserve a special mention.

Participants were from right across the Eyre Peninsula. For this third session, they were able to come together in-person to focus on finalizing regional initiatives designed to lift the fortunes of the Eyre Peninsula.

This program like others under the Drought Resilience Leaders Program and our work in communities impacted by bushfires, reflect growth within the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation as we move to multiple models of leadership development and leadership impact across the country. The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation seeks to facilitate more growth and impact through leadership in more places, more often and this place-based community work is a key part of that story.

Matt Linnegar, March 2022