Upon arriving in Darwin on the 24th July there was a mixed sense of cautiousness, anticipation and anxiety amongst the cohort of Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) Course 24.
Once the first handshakes were out of the way, the nerves began to settle. The first session was opened with a brief introductory to ARLP followed by some basic group interaction to get the blood flowing. Once we had ticked off the formalities it was time to get down to business. From Darwin we made our way to our luxurious home for the next 10 days - a single man tent - in the Kimberley, Western Australia. This does sound very romantic - camping under the wide open skies of the Australian outback - just like in the brochure. This was not your usual camping experience. I had a feeling that we were in for something special in the coming days. I was right. I felt I had a complete understanding of myself and in complete control. I was wrong. For the next 10 days, the 33 participants including myself undertook experiential learning activities. The larger group was sublet into smaller teams, which were then placed in positions that were physically and mentally challenging with the aim of understanding and strengthening our leadership qualities.
What sort of leader are you? What sort of leader do you want to be? What can you do to improve your leadership skills? I am sure these are questions asked regularly by many leaders around the country, but for them to be individualised with pressure applied to key trigger-points certainly tested our unique abilities, qualities and resolve. Physical and mental challenges were the norm for the 10 days in The Kimberley tested our skills-set to its limit. Unplugged feedback sessions that took aim and hit the target, delivered a powerful message to self. It is from this foundation that individually we can build processes to become stronger as leaders and stronger as one.
Industry leaders, if they are to lead effectively, must be prepared to listen and collaborate with their peers and teams, allowing for implementation of continuous improvement with an objective mindset. Communicating and networking with a wide range of stakeholders will provide leaders knowledge and opportunity to steer industry to the greater good for regional, rural, and remote Australia. This concept resonates specifically for me within the Australian meat processing sector and the red supply chain, in which I work. The Australian red meat processing sector has a solid foundation from which longevity can be built. Maintaining the exceptional quality and ethical reputation of the Australian beef industry in the market is essential for industry longevity. A perpetual continuous improvement mentality will strengthen the meat industry standing, underpinned by the unprecedented quality management systems. It is my personal goal that the ARLP course will provide me with a collective ability and strength to lead and assist in future red meat industry improvement and prosperity.
At this point, I wish to extend my sincere thank you to those that have supported me in my community - my family, John Dee and a big thank you to the Australian Meat Processor Corporation for sponsoring me on Course 24 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. Thank you for your continued support in this journey. I will conclude by saying if you do think you are in the right place to apply for future courses, please do so. My expectations of the first session of ARLP Course 24 have been completely surpassed. I now understand why this program is held in such high esteem.
Listen to a brief message from me, on day one, here.