Their Stories

Top 3 TRAIL takeaways

21 July 2020

Last year I was fortunate enough to be a participant in the TRAIL: Emerging Leaders Program. Having worked for the Foundation for only a few months at the time, I had some idea of the eight-day leadership program and how I would be challenged physically, mentally and socially. I didn’t anticipant the affect the program would have on me professionally and my approach in the workplace. Here are my three key takeaways from the program:

1. Back yourself
During the experiential component of the program we were assigned a team challenge. I had offered an idea to my team which I then hesitated and started to over analyse. Another member of the team took my idea and successfully ran with it. While I was pleased with the success of my team and the leadership of my fellow team member, I felt regret that I didn’t have the courage to move on my idea. I have learnt that I need to back myself and have more conviction in my ideas.

2. Ask the tough questions
We were given some useful tools in the art of critical conversations during the program. I have utilised these tools over the last few months as we have navigated through COVID-19. You could say since the program I have been empowered to ask the tough questions. My approach has been to stand up and ask the “why” – not to challenge decisions, but to ensure we are on the right path as we navigate these uncertain times.

3. Don’t be satisfied until you are heard at the top
Towards the end of the end of the program we heard from advocate Dr Barry Traill, Director of Pew Charitable Trusts. Barry offered some insight into his policy and advocacy work. One of the key things I learnt from Barry is to “keep going up the chain”. He urged us not to be satisfied until you are heard at the very top. This idea resonates with me, as so often we take the first response given and resign ourselves to that decision. I am conscious that I need to keep going and be respectful as I work my way up the chain.

There were many other learnings from the program which I continue to reflect on and develop in my professional and personal life. I am grateful for the opportunity to have undertaken the program and the shared journey with my fellow participants. It was an experience that I will continue to draw from throughout my career.

David Brouwer: Manager, Finance, ARLF