For Our Future program helps develop industry leaders

Friday 13 Sep 2019

A group of 46 managers from across the forestry and wood products industry have recently graduated from the 2019 For Our Future Regional Collaborative Leadership Program. The course was delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation for Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA).

The program’s focus was on building collaborative leadership skills of mid-level managers to increase their capacity to take national leadership roles. Managing Director of FWPA, Ric Sinclair, said it was critical for up-and-coming leaders to gain knowledge that goes beyond technical skills, such as communication and problem solving.

“FWPA looks at offering initiatives to our members and stakeholders that will not only benefit them and their careers, but also to help grow the industry as a whole. That’s what developing leadership capability is all about,” said Sinclair. “An important aspect of the For Our Future program is giving managers a better understanding of the workings and challenges across different regions and throughout the supply chain. This way they can collaboratively work together to contribute to a strong future for forestry.”

About the program

Regional cohorts attended a first session on local engagement and leadership skills, which was hosted in Tasmania, Gippsland and South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Participants then gathered in Canberra for a combined second session on national collaboration, as well as current and future industry issues and the opportunities they may present.

Throughout the sessions, participants engaged in experiential group learning in order to:

- Develop strong leadership capability, from critical thinking to negotiation, facilitation and communication; and
- Gain a deeper understanding of the shared challenges and opportunities faced by the industry across Australia to work towards practical, collaborative solutions.

There was also the opportunity to foster ongoing relationships for peer support and networking.

Chief Executive of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, Matt Linnegar, shared the importance of the program. “Investing in people is a bold and worthy action for the industry,” he said. “Being able to lead through complexity and take on different perspectives is critical to the industry succeeding into the future.”

Ongoing benefits

Participants noted the value of networking to future leadership opportunities and the importance of understanding differences and similarities across regions, claiming that it is the “best tool in their tool kit”. Others stated the “benefits could flow for years” and the course has “challenged preconceptions and gave a range of ways to think about leadership”. For another, it gave them “the confidence to step forward”.

Sinclair said the feedback from recipients was extremely encouraging. “They gained valuable skills and industry relationships that will last with them throughout their careers. The support was unanimous for continuing a regional-national approach to leadership development and learning,” said Sinclair.

The For Our Future program is planned to run again in 2020 with new regional cohorts of participants. A report on the program is available on the FWPA website: Australian Rural Leadership Foundation final report

Source: FWPA

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