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NZ behind the eight ball in leadership development

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New Zealand behind the eight ball in leadership development

New Zealand’s investment in leadership development is massively lacking – and schools are not exempt, says international business consultant Harry Mills.

Harry Mills is a keynote speaker at the New Zealand School Trustees Association’s annual conference being held in Auckland this week. He is the chief executive of an international consulting and training firm Mills Group, which provides guidance to corporates and educators both in New Zealand and overseas.

About 650 delegates are attending the conference, which has the theme Celebration of Governance – Where all Kids Achieve, and runs from June 30 to July 3.

He says when compared to the investment in leadership being made by other countries, New Zealand is lagging behind. This under-investment is an indictment of New Zealand development at all levels.

“The top performing companies in New Zealand will spend one or two or maybe three days in total on their leaders in terms of intensive development. Most of my American clients are spending two or three weeks a year. When you add that up over a decade, someone who is the equivalent of a principal could have had anything up to six months to a year of management or leadership development.”

Harry Mills says schools would also benefit from investing more into leadership.

“The world is full of good schools, but there are few great schools. Great schools are about leadership, and business research shows that most institutions become great internally by having some sort of sustained leadership.

“That is exactly what boards have to do. Boards think they can make a difference and the big thing is that the leadership of the board has to provide the governance and framework for the principal to go from good to great.”

He says there has been a huge pick-up in investment in leadership in New Zealand business, however the country is still behind the eight ball.

“I think we have the same issues with leadership on boards. There are a lot of training programmes starting to come but we have got to take it seriously and we have to do it for at least a decade and probably beyond.

Gaining a basic degree takes three years in New Zealand and four years in most overseas countries, he says. It doesn’t make sense to think that schools and boards can be transformed in a couple of hours.

“We think we have ticked the box under governance when we have a school trustees' programme that comes in for two or three hours. Governance is a serious process and you have to take it deadly seriously.”

“There also needs to be serious support, which, I might add, also includes some serious funding for this purpose by central government.”

The annual conference is being opened by Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, while Minister Trevor Mallard will also address the delegates.


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