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Activate Report - Session Three - Authentic Leadership

Activate Participant :     Beth Davis

Position :                        Events Manager

Organisation :                Royal Geelong Yacht Club

Session :                        Week 3

Theme :                          Authentic Leadership

Week three of the Committee for Geelong's "Activate Leadership" course took place at the Norlane Community Centre. While the day started with some challenges, including a power outage and an illness from one of the key note speakers, facilitator Cynthia Mahoney was quick to reinvigorate the group and provide additional activities and insights to fill the gap and turn the session in a positive direction (and the power came back on!).

The topic of the day was "Authentic Leadership". In an interview with business leader turned academic Bill George (source: the group learned about what authentic leadership means and what it looks like to different people. The resounding message was that each individual must find their true purpose, or "True North", to be able to fully realise their potential and activate their authentic leadership. 

Later in the session, the group unpacked more about authentic leadership - how does one find their "True North"? After a brainstorming session covering this and various other topics relating to leadership, some trends began to emerge. To be an authentic leader and to know your true north, you must:

  • Have self-knowledge - know where you have come from, where you are now, and where you want to go
  • Know and set your values - to know your purpose, you must know what is of value to you
  • Be open to really digging deep and gaining insight into yourself and your behaviours
  • Make sure that your actions and your behaviours do match what your values and your purpose are

A great activity to discover more about what matters to us, and what our values (and by extension, our purpose) are was the "Life Wheel". This is something that everybody can try in their own life - give it a go!



  • List 6-8 things that are important to you in your life - your anchor points. These might be family, career, health, travel - whatever matters to you
  • Draw a circle, and then draw lines through that circle with each point of the line labelled with one of those anchor points (like a wheel with spokes)
  • On each line, draw ten spokes
  • Place a dot on each line rating where you think you are from 1-10 (using the spokes) in those areas in your life
  • When you have marked all your dots, join them up and see where your balance is 


This is a great activity to do, not only to see where your values lie (your anchor points), but also to reflect on how you are doing in each of those areas of your life. What are you doing well? What are you not spending enough time on? What do you need to sacrifice in order to fulfil another area of your life? No Life Wheel will ever be perfectly balanced and it's important to recognise that while we can improve, we can never be perfect!

Values play a huge part in leadership. The Activate Leadership group were privileged to have Brad Clarke from Better Communities to explore this concept through various group activities and reflection. 

One of the key points made by Brad is that values are a framework for how we behave. It is important to set values both as an individual and as an organisation to ensure clarity and consistency. When we create frameworks that also allow people to question and debate, this also creates trust. 

An interesting question posed by Brad was what happens when our personal values contradict our organisation's values? Lots of great brainstorming followed, but the core of the answer comes down to this - when it comes to your own values, what can you cope with and what can you not tolerate? Communication, mediation, and providing negotiation, compromise and alternative solutions are all workable angles to go forward with should you find yourself in this situation. 

Brad's final gift to the Activate Leadership group was a game - with a twist! Teams of four were formed, and each team was given a sheet of paper with the "rules". However, what each team didn't realise, is that one team had the full set of rules, one team only had part of the rules, one team had no rules and had to fill in the blanks, and one team had a completely different set of rules altogether. What ensues was of course - utter chaos. 

What this taught us is that without communication and a common objective, there will confusion, chaos, bickering, and frustration.

In a leadership role, we must remember this and ensure that our values and behaviours reflect that not only of the organisation, but of our true authentic self as well. 



Activate Participant:        John Parshotamdas

Position:                          Senior Business Analyst

Organisation:                   Red cross Blood Services

Session:                            Week 3

Theme:                             Authentic Leadership

It was the third session of our activate leadership program held in the Norlane Community Centre. The electricity supply was down and the meeting room was cold. However, the energy levels in the room were high and people were keen and enthusiastic to learn leadership. The topic for that day was Authentic leadership, an area that is near and dear to my heart.

Some of my key learnings from Authentic Leadership are:

  • Accepting ourselves and knowing ourselves is the first step towards authentic leadership
  • To focus our energy and efforts doing what we are called to do
  • To make a difference to the people surrounding us
  • To live in such a way that we live a life free from regrets knowing that we have been true to ourselves

Brad facilitated a session on Values and its Connection to Leadership. Through our group discussions we discussed what values meant in the leadership context. Personally what I took out of the session was to work for organisations that aligned with my personal values in order for me to be authentic and operate in my sweet spot.

Cynthia presented the wheel of life toolkit to us. We were able to identify the gaps in our life and develop goals to work through those areas that needed some work.

The session ended with Cynthia exposing us to the world café concept. My learning from the world café concept is recognising that I do not have to solve problems on my own and can tap on the group strength.

Overall I feel so grateful for the role that the Committee for Geelong plays in my leadership development journey. I really appreciate Rosemary and Cynthia who always demonstrate professionalism, service and support to the class.



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