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Activate Report - Week 6 - Social Leadership

Activate Participant:      Emma Harris

Position:                           Internal Broker

Organisation:                  Adroit Insurance Group

Session:                           Week 6

Theme:                             Social Leadership

Today was very different, perhaps a more nourishing and pivotal step in our leadership journey, for the first time it felt like we were really part of something big and important. Almost like we are getting ready for the transition in ourselves.  Albeit a short space of time, I'm really starting to sense we are feeling the potential for change and opportunity within our organisations, community and personal lives. The bonds we have formed as part of a group on the same path are becoming stronger, knowing full well that our time together is drawing to an end.

In today's session we discussed the concept of social leadership and how we can consider ways to contribute actively in community engagement that build on our personal skills, strengths, interests and values.

We began the day by getting into groups and preparing some questions for a guest panel that would be presenting and facilitating a question and answer later in the session.  We were then introduced to Rob Birch, CEO of Gforce Employment Solutions and our host for this week's leadership session.  Rob gave a very well rounded introduction to himself including his background and how he became such an influential citizen of the community of Geelong. I enjoyed Rob's very frank opinion of how leadership works, saying that great leaders must fundamentally be good people, and finding your true north plays a big part in facilitating a good leader from within.

We then heard from the lovely Rosemary White, who is our leadership manager for Committee for Geelong. Rosemary opened up to us about how she came into this area of her life and was very encouraging when she explained that a leadership journey is not a straight line, and its ok to experiment with different areas of your life. The end result is you finish up with a career made up of true passions that are in line with your strengths.     

To finish, we heard from a very diverse panel of influential leaders within the Geelong community. They formed a very engaging and thought provoking question and answer session where we could pose those burning questions. The result of the panel session was extremely positive, with a strong focus on learning the tricks of the trade when juggling commitments with high presence and influence among the community. A refreshing outlook at what lies ahead.



Activate Participant:      Laurence Pusnjak

Position:                           Business Analyst

Organisation:                  Karingal

Session:                           Week 6

Theme:                             Social Leadership


We are now into week 6 of our 8 week course and this week the session was hosted at Gforce Employment Solutions and it was jam packed! First up we had Rob Birch who is the CEO of Gforce who spent the first session sharing his leadership journey with the group. Rob gave us a summary of the history of Gforce from its early days in 1983 to its growth and consolidation today, for those not familiar with Gforce, the organisation has 58 staff and manages around 400 apprentices in the Geelong region, provides government contracts such as Jobactive, Work For the Dole and also professional recruitment services.

Rob's leadership journey aligned with his tenure at Gforce as he started out as an apprentice himself albeit in the aviation industry and joined Gforce in 1999. Over a 30 year span has worked with only two employers, his employer as an apprentice and Gforce, quite impressive when you take into perspective that today's workforce bounce around from employer to employer a lot more frequently.

The key points I took out of Rob's leadership journey include:

  • If an opportunity presents itself, consider it.
  • Leaders in the community should align their contributions to their interests and their values.
  • Relationships matter, build and maintain these.
  • Leaders should take a positive approach, eg: avoid the "No, we tried that it doesn't work", instead view it as: "let's look at it and see if this is something that can work for us now"




Next up we had Rosemary White who is the Leadership Manager at CfG, who spoke to the group about social leadership and what it meant to be a community leader.  Rosemary also gave us some insight into her journey from starting out as a teacher, stints as CEO of NFPs and finally moving to Geelong in 2011 and taking up a role with the CfG.

Rosemary spoke about The Activate Leadership program and how it provides a framework for putting leadership into action. This week we focussed on social leadership and how we as Activate Leadership participants could exhibit social leadership by advocating and becoming ambassadors for the Geelong region.

We then participated in a short exercise to identify our leadership purpose and legacy as an individual, organisation and community.

The key points I took from Rosemary's talk were:

  • Become an Active Citizen, eg: participate in or lead small campaigns (to clean up your street or volunteer for a local sporting club committee)
  • Social leadership encourages Active Citizenship


We then had a panel discussion with four Leaders for Geelong alumni who included; Philippa Bakes (LfG 12), Paul Rawson (LfG '11), Beth King (LfG '13) and Matt Fletcher (LfG '16).

Each spoke about their experience in taking on the two year Leaders for Geelong course and what they have gone on to do after graduating. We as a group then had the opportunity to direct questions to the panel or individuals about their experiences and learnings and how they contributed to community leadership.

My key points taken from the session include:

Matt: Leadership is about influence, you can influence from anywhere in your organisation. It's ok to fail, failure is allows you learn.

Philippa: Just do it! But you may want to seek out a mentor to guide you along the way and don't get involved in something you are not passionate about.

Paul: If you want to be part of and live in a community, then you need to be prepared to put your hand up and put back into the community. If you're looking for improvement look in the mirror, if you're looking for inspiration look outside.

Beth: Don't try to do too much at once and tell stories, as storytelling is a very useful tool for engagement.

Looking forward to next week's session where we will be hosted by Crowe Horwath.




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