TRAILblazers a leadership experience without rival
By Suzi Moore, Communications Manager, Canegrowers ...
How often can you say a training course has been a game-changer, a life changing experience? Thanks to an excellent scholarship opportunity through Sugar Research Australia (SRA), I had a chance to attend just such a course. The program is called TRAILblazers, and was put together by the well-respected Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. SRA is again sponsoring a position on this course and I thought it timely to talk a little about the experience and encourage anyone who is interested in developing leadership to apply.
If you want to be part of driving the course of Australian agriculture, but feel like you need more practical skills in leadership, this course is for you.
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be part of helping drive the Australian agricultural sector – to be one of the many people across Australia committed to helping it become all it can be.
For me, it’s about ensuring the Australian agricultural industry is renowned as a strong, respected and competitive industry – both here and abroad.
I care deeply about creating a strong, respected brand Australia; deeply about a creating a smart computer resource that farmers can use to really get the best out of their land, their resources and the world market; and care deeply about getting the representative structure of agriculture right so we can achieve all that.
I have so many aspirations in terms of helping create a better platform for Australian farmers, and our Aussie ag sector, but in recent times have been completely stuck on the ‘what’s next’. Australian agriculture has so much potential and so many talented and passionate people. The TRAILblazers program certainly seems like it was custom built to help people who want to be part of that, but don't know quite how that is going to look and how to get there.
Even the toughest lessons seem to infiltrate more easily
What made this program completely different was that it took all the usual theoretical based learning material and throws the concepts into scenario based activities. This action-based learning really forces natural teamwork and leadership styles to come to the surface and we found we could really take on what we, personally, needed to learn.
I thought it was a little like being part of the Amazing Race (TV series), but instead of competing against the other people on the course, you have to work really closely together to maximise the key strengths and abilities of everyone in the group to try and achieve the most successful outcome for the given scenario. The format quickly exposed a broad range of deep-seated and longstanding leadership issues in each and every one of the participants; but even more impressively, provided a platform for each of us to take on the learnings relevant to ourselves in a real (and fun) way.
It was interesting to see how simple scenarios devised by the organisers pushed each of us immediately to our fallback positions, where flaws in leadership rose to the surface quickly and the cracks in each of our leadership styles became so evident that we could not cover it over. This in turn opened the way for major opportunities for improving our leadership style.
This experiential approach made the course completely different to any other I’ve been on. It forces all your attributes straight to the surface, where you can’t avoid them and can deal with them head on. Even though I’d been lucky enough to learn much of the theory in various courses over the years, sometimes all the reading in the world is not enough to get you to actually change your natural ‘go-to’ moves.
The format of this program really seemed to penetrate even the most ingrained behaviors and genuinely learn the hard lessons - and that’s why I think the course really works. In many cases we learnt just as much from learning how to harness our own leadership style, as we did from all of the other participants on the course. The honesty and support structure made the approach really effective as a mind-shifting exercise.
What you walk away with
You might be the most results-driven person in the business, but without the means to create new and innovative solutions to tackle long-standing challenges, gaining results can be a slog. This program can really help you cut to the core of the issues and walk away with a fresh perspective and the tools to manage issues (with a clear focus on results) well after you leave the program.
TRAILblazers helped me to identify my best strengths and best opportunities for improvement in a way no theory-only based course had managed to bring home the learnings.
Feeding our people and living intertwinedly with our planet seems a little dodgy to most people, but I came away from the course no longer embarrassed about what I care about and armed with tools to help work toward those things that I highly value. For me that personal vision is being part of a sustainable future for the planet – specifically helping find a way to bridge the most sustainable and profitable way for farmers to produce food and fibre and live within the finite resources of the planet.
My commitment and dedication to being part of building an exciting and meaningful plan for better serving the interests of Australia’s farmers has only become more vivid.
The TRAILblazers program has been without exception, the best course I’ve ever been on and I encourage anyone serious about developing their leadership skills to consider the course. I would also like to sincerely thank SRA for the sponsorship and commend them on offering the scholarship for someone to attend this year’s course.
Registrations for the next TRAILblazers program, for seasoned leaders, are NOW OPEN. Register here for the eight-day residential program, taking place from 26 October - 2 November 2015. Registrations close 21 August 2015.