Facing leadership challenges head on
Two leaders take their skills to the next level at the Advanced Management Program
|4 minute read|
The world of management is evolving at an unprecedented pace, with leaders today facing challenges like never before – from economic uncertainty, technological disruption and changing customer expectations, to employee engagement, retention and wellbeing.
No matter the type of hurdle, those in senior and management roles can benefit from thinking outside the box to delve into different strategies and perspectives, taking their leadership style to another level.
Making the decision to undertake the AIM WA+UWA Business School Executive Education’s Advanced Management Program (AMP), St Bart’s People and Culture General Manager Ben Searcy and MyPlace Manager Alison Fasher shared their unique challenges driving them to pursue the program and how it helped improve on their leadership skills.
Transitioning to a new leadership role
For Mr Searcy, one of the biggest challenges was leaving behind his previous role as a human resources professional and stepping into his current position.
“My role is as a leader first and foremost – performing exemplary leadership – and the specialist skills of people and culture are secondary to driving high-performance skills and leading people,” he said.
Though this is an exciting step in his career, Mr Searcy was able to delve deeper into this leadership undertaking to enhance his management style and transition comfortably into the general manager role through the AMP.
“St Bart’s is a supportive organisation and the time spent on organisational development is a significant priority,” he said.
“The program enhanced awareness of my leadership style and taught me how to capitalise on my strengths, as well as develop my skill set to influence drivers of performance to maximise team potential and minimise interference.
“I learnt more about employee engagement and the relationship to organisational performance and recognising the drivers that have the biggest impact in these times of the great resignation.
“I also learnt tools and techniques to excel as a leader whilst helping others to flourish.”
The biggest takeaways for Mr Searcy, however, included how to build, participate in and lead effective teams.
“Another big learning moment was understanding and building mindfulness and resilience, and the mechanisms that underpin and build that resilience,” he said.
“Further understanding the nature of effective strategic management and strategy planning tools and models were also significant too.”
Putting it into practice, Mr Searcy said strategy planning, organisational culture and employee engagement, such as values propositions and more, have been of high importance at St Bart’s, while the AMP itself has brought forth notable partnerships.
“The program was a very good networking opportunity for all of the participants, who were from a broad cross-section of industry and sectors.”
“The networks have already led to partnerships with St Bart’s and other participants’ organisations, which have become philanthropic partners,” he said.
Coaching for self-insight
As a mother of three children, Ms Fasher’s obstacle as a leader was finding a work-life balance.
“Something I find challenging is having the time to check in with myself, do the right thing for me in terms of my self-care, balancing family needs versus the management role, and getting further education opportunities and networking,” she said.
“That can take a while to figure out.
“You need balance – you have to keep yourself healthy and well to perform well in your role.
“The AMP taught me about exercise strategies, nutrition strategies and more, with surveys and self-evaluations being undertaken prior to the program to discover how you see the world, how you interact with other people, what your priorities are, how you are as a person, your values and how that all feeds into your behaviour in the workplace and your leadership style.”
Ms Fasher said another unique aspect of the program was the 360-degree evaluation which explored colleagues’ perspectives of their leader.
“The participant does a self-assessment, with other people within their organisation also doing an assessment to find the participant’s leadership qualities and styles within the workplace.
“Following the results, the participant has a coaching session with one of the AMP facilitators, who help you to interpret those results and the data.
“They provide feedback and guidance on what you could do to address any blind spots that may have been uncovered, to understand how particular themes within the results build a bigger picture on the leadership frameworks you are using.
“The coach will support you to create a plan for the areas you would like to work on.
“It was very practical and informative.”
Ms Fasher said the program helped her to understand how her values and personality came across in her communication and decision-making, while the combination of the academic content, and the focus on physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing, was the highlight.
“That’s something you don’t get from a lot of other courses,” she said.