Alluvium's second cohort of IWC leaders

Alluvium's second cohort of IWC leaders

29.06.2015 - Posted by Adam Neilly
Are you a project champion or an enabling leader? Do you strive to inspire a shared vision and challenge the process? These are just some of the questions I spent time considering during a recent 4 day training intensive — the introduction to my 6 month participation in the International Water Centre’s (IWC) leadership short course.

Alluvium group on lawns of University of Queensland during IWC leadership course

The second cohort of Alluvium IWC leaders at Uni of Qld. From left: Leonie Duncan, Katie Fletcher, Brett Twycross, Karen White, Dan O'Halloran, Alexa McAuley, Andre Taylor (IWC), Adam Neilly, Andrew McMillan

The course has been tailored especially for Alluvium staff. This year’s participants included Alexa and Andrew from Sydney; Karen, Leonie and Dan from Melbourne; Katie from Brisbane; and Brett and I from Townsville — a mix of engineers, social scientists and environmental scientists.

The learnings from the course varied for each individual, but I can say with absolute confidence that everyone’s view of leadership was fundamentally changed. Dr Andre Taylor, the course leader and IWC Leadership Specialist, expertly delivered 3 days of learning about leadership. One of the major themes being that you don’t need to be in a position of authority to exercise leadership – you can lead regardless of your position in an organisation, you just need the right tools to do so. In essence, leadership is about taking a role in influencing change. Alluvium’s CEO, Dr Matt Francey, and Mr Dough Yuille, the World Wildlife Fund’s Brisbane policy manager for freshwater, were guest speakers; each sharing their own unique past experiences and valuable insights into leadership in the water industry.

“…you don’t need to be in a position of authority to exercise leadership – you can lead regardless of your position in an organisation, you just need the right tools to do so."

On day 4 we explored the concept of systems thinking and how various techniques could be applied to complex, messy problems to help arrive at solutions that we may have otherwise not considered. Dr Brian McIntosh, Senior Lecturer in Integrated Water Management at the IWC, had us drawing on butcher’s paper with thick whiteboard markers and sticking post-it notes on the walls in order to tackle real and messy problems that each of us were grappling with in our work lives. The engineers in the room initially had major reservations (as these tools are entirely foreign to us) but the results spoke for themselves, often resulting in a complete reframing of our view of the messy problem and some truly remarkable insights. We’re now converts to these techniques, so don’t be surprised if you see some (truly awful) butcher’s paper drawings and post-it notes on the walls of an Alluvium office should you come in for a visit.

The initial training session is complete, but the course doesn’t end there. We’re now working on our Individual Leadership Development Plans, which will guide us in improving our leadership capabilities over the next 6 to 12 months. We will also have regular coaching sessions with Dr Andre Taylor and peer support discussions with each other to keep us on the right path and further our learning, culminating in another 2 day visit to the University of Queensland later in the year.

I commend Alluvium for investing in this development opportunity for its staff and I look forward to putting the learning into practice for the benefit of our clients, the company and the broader industry.