Author: Peter Fa'afiu

Neighbourhood Approach provides an opportunity to move forward

The Auckland Housing Accord between the Government and Council signaled a new intention to move ahead with urban regeneration at pace. Whilst the Accord has been a catalyst for a renewed energy within the private sector, it has also created an opportunity for progressive thinking and action within neighbourhoods across Auckland as public and private sectors explore new partnerships to deliver outcomes for communities.

Over the last two to three years, every developer now calls itself an “urban regeneration” entity. I don’t blame them. The Government and Auckland Council established the Tamaki Redevelopment Company (TRC) in East Auckland as one; both Wellington and Christchurch city councils are reviewing how urban renewal or regeneration structures might support its social housing obligations; and the Waterfront Auckland now regards itself as a regeneration company.  So why the change? Regeneration or renewal is more than just housing. Rather than focus exclusively on bricks and mortar, it seeks to focus on the neighbourhoods in which these houses stand.  

Take the TRC’s first neighbourhood regeneration project.  OK, 230 new houses over 3-5 years.  But when it was launched back in August, Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mayor Len Brown also launched a new Early Childhood Education (ECE) centre at the Glenbrae Primary School site for up to 60 kids, a refurbished old DOC building which had been left vacant for many years and had become the centre of anti-social behaviour, and vacant sites which will become 32 new Housing NZ homes.  They also celebrated how the local college students were also part of the construction through work experience.

Building in greenfield sites is vastly different from brownfields. The latter has increased risks with the well established neighbourhoods, residents and diversity of cultures.  The approach that I developed and led for the TRC was called “The Neighbourhood Approach”. It is centred on the principle “resident comes first.” This is realised by providing residents ways to affect their neighbourhoods future; while eliminating the uncertainty and confusion that comes with the lack of on-going engagement. Community leaders from other parts of Tamaki (and across the country) might have a view but it is the resident within that ‘hood’ who knows the challenges they face and how they can contribute to their city. It is also recognises that neighbourhoods are unique in their needs and aspirations.

Urban regeneration is complex. It means the different arms of local and central government working in coordination and in partnership with the local community and the private sector. It also means the continuation and strengthening of a company’s social license to operate in that community.  The neighbourhood approach therefore provides ballast to what most companies wish for the most – a well engaged and agile organisation which is responsive to the needs of its residents or customers.

Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive and governance practitioner who developed the neighbourhood approach for the TRC. He is a co-founder of Navigator Limited.

The secret sauce is a positive outlook

I’ve always been an optimist. During challenging times over my professional career, I’ve always looked over the horizon. Confidence in my skills was an ingredient or maybe it was my adaptability knowing I needed to ‘adapt or die’.  Looking back it was all that and more.  However, the secret sauce was my positive outlook.

Those who know me or have worked with me previously know that under challenging situations, I tend to lower anxiety levels through ensuring the team was still in a positive frame of mind.  My current employer has experienced significant changes with minimal certainty and knowing every day is hard fought.  But as a leader of the organisation, it was my role to lead positively, ensuring cohesiveness particularly when internally things are falling apart, and instilling confidence in the staff that ‘this guy has done this before!’.

Research has consistently shown that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement, teamwork —improves.  Positivity also fosters openness with staff and stakeholders.

Positive teamwork is an important element for me as a leader.  Productivity is fostered only through the well-being of well functioning team.  Some of my leadership colleagues give me grief for not dealing with the hard teams (‘that’s the only way you learn as a leader’, they say).  But my aim isn’t about having a happy team; it’s about having a high producing team.

Have there been moments where some of my staff have tried to take advantage of my positive nature?  Yes, definitely. That is hard as a leader, as it’s important that a staff member is given enough rope to learn and develop as a person – sometimes as they say they hang themselves on that rope.

Often those moments are not good ones, particularly for the staff member given New Zealand is a small country and one’s reputation is a passport to future employment opportunities.  I often later find out that that staff member had always had a chip on their shoulder or had difficult personal barriers to get over.  I have and will get over those anomalies very quickly.

As much as negativity had become habitual for them; a positive outlook is one habit I continue to cherish in my life.

Our Navigator Partner Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive with governance covering human rights, media and education. 

Image courtesy of kraifreedom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Engaging with extremists

Central to my tool kit of business skills has been my ability to engage with all stakeholder groups.  I was fortunate to have learned the foundations of my tradecraft in the diplomatic service for New Zealand where obtaining information to leverage opportunities for the country was at the forefront of any good diplomat.  My four years in Indonesia gave me an opportunity to engage with a spectrum of groups including former radicals and extremists.

A number of countries around the world continue to undertake what they call ‘de-radicalisation’ programmes where effort and resources are made to de-radicalise young men who given their backgrounds and in most cases poverty stricken circumstances went to countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan to be ‘schooled’ in the art of extremism and radicalism.  Some go on to become mujahedeen fighters around the world or terrorists.

Following the Bali 1 bombings of 2002, Indonesia was no different – it threw significant resources at its de-radicalisation programme turning thousands of men back to mainstream Islam and in some cases Christianity (some radical Christians were joining the inter-religious wars on Maluku or Sulawesi).  It took years and significant resources but as the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia’s leaders understood the need for its own internal security and its responsibility in the global fight against extremism in whatever form.

New Zealand had its own small part to play.  Low level, but equally important.  Much of it was face to face.  We were and continue to be a trusted listener.  Our independent foreign policy was well known amongst the radicals and our multiculturalism to them ‘real.’   Think about it – I was a Samoan born, New Zealand diplomat, who spoke Bahasa Indonesian, had a beard and long hair (ok, grew it to fit in!), and who at the first and second meeting didn’t ask questions but sought to build a rapport.  It was about the long term relationship, not the short term gain.

I was fortunate to have been part of a well-known international effort in supporting Indonesian efforts.  I had a number of ‘contacts’ with a couple who were at the extreme end of the spectrum.  One of them was a former Afghanistan Mujahedeen trainer, Nasir Abas.  He is a Malaysian who received his “calling” to support his Muslim brothers in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.  His exploits within the J.I. terrorist network has over recent years become public.  His de-radicalisation is one of the most successful in Indonesia leading to stopping more young Indonesians going overseas and his intel led to the capture or killing of well-known terrorists across Southeast Asia including those who participated in the Bali 1 and 2 bombings, bombing of the Australian Embassy (Jakarta) and various hotel and church bombings across Indonesia.

Abas still travels overseas with a protection entourage speaking to those who wish to hear his story. I last saw him a couple of years after leaving Jakarta at Singapore airport having a latte at Starbucks.  I said hi to him and asked after his young family.  He asked after my former boss.  We chatted for a couple of minutes; he commented on how well I looked being out of the stressful environment of Jakarta.  I joked about the last time I saw him some publisher was turning him into a “comic book superhero” for schools and pesantren’s (Muslim religious schools).  He said “Whatever we need to fight evil, my brother.” Assalamualaikum (may peace be upon you) were the last words I said to him.

As I walked away to catch my plane, I looked back and saw a visual that still remains – a former mujahedeen trainer, former leader in South East Asia’s leading extremist network, police informant, now leading peace advocate with a price on his head, and now having a Starbucks latte, showing photos on his Nokia phone to his travelling partner, his white robe accompanied by his Adidas bag, and about to catch a plane to another country trying his best to get more young men to see ‘right from wrong, good from evil.’

So when New Zealand businesses seek my services about how difficult it is to engage with their clients or stakeholders; I can’t help but grin.

Our Navigator Partner Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive with governance covering human rights, media and education. 

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When Leaders front up

Some leaders prefer to always front the good news.  A sign of a great leader is when he or she fronts difficult meetings or audiences.  One of my favourite speeches is from Robert F Kennedy when he fronted a crowd of African-American fellow citizens in Indianapolis on the night that Martin Luther King Jnr was killed.  That is the hardest crowd you will ever get – raw emotion, growing hatred and on the verge of rioting.

For those who are unaware of the background to this great speech, a quick summary:  Kennedy, the United States senator from New York, was campaigning to earn the 1968 Democratic Presidential nomination when he learned that King had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.  Before boarding a plane to attend campaign rallies in Indianapolis, Kennedy learned that King had been shot. When he arrived, Kennedy was informed that King had died.

Despite fears of riots and concerns for his safety, Kennedy went ahead with plans to attend a rally at 17th and Broadway in the heart of Indianapolis’s African-American community. He went straight to the rally from the airport.

Kennedy’s press secretary quickly wrote a speech for him but the speech notes were not used. Instead Kennedy spoke off the cuff and from the heart.  That evening Kennedy addressed the crowd, many of whom had not heard about King’s assassination – the raw emotion in the video is very sad.  In response to a crowd growing in anger and mourning, Kennedy offered brief, impassioned remarks for peace that is considered to be one of the great public addresses of the modern era.  Enjoy the video.

That is leadership.

 Our Navigator Partner Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive with governance covering human rights, media and education. 

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When leaders don’t perform, ensure someone is still at the wheel

There will be moments in a leadership team of a company or any other entity where the CEO isn’t performing.  The Board knows what it needs to do but wants to undertake such a process in a fair (morally and legally) way for both parties.  That process might take a few days or a few months, either way the Board will be relying on other members of the Leadership Team to step up during this transitional period to provide clarity of direction to staff and stakeholders.  That “new” leader should therefore be doing the following:

1.   Focus on the strategic direction and KPIs:  There needs to be a continuing drive towards achieving the KPIs set by the Board.  This is hard when the ‘head of the fish’ is rotting, but it’s critical to take the wheel.  Need to stay focussed on action, delivery and measurable results.

2.    Support and lead your people:  That sounds very Moses-like but during challenging times, staff members are seeking leadership, guidance, and support.  They need to look up to someone from the Leadership Team to ensure that the ship remains afloat.

3.    Provide confidence to customers/stakeholder groups:  When the CEO is eventually given the flick, it’s important that there remains a constant face of the business ready to see key customers and stakeholders.  He or she will provide customers key information and articulate with clarity that nothing has changed; just a minor re-shuffle at the top and they can expect the same or better service or product offering they previously received.

4.    Prove to the Board that you are more than a transitional player:  For other members of the Leadership Team, one person’s poor performance is another person’s career game changing moment. Take full advantage of the opportunity provided.  Tell the Board through your interactions, strategic thinking, action and results you are the right and best person for the long term future of the company/entity.  This means also solidifying your links with other members of the Leadership; they trust you and give you the support you need to make the play for the CEO role.

5.    Ignore the ‘gaming’ being played out by the current CEO:  When this occurs then its easy to get stuck in.  However, leave it to the Board – allow them to play their governance role.

6.    Return to your original instincts:  Some new leaders tend to think that a new role means they need to change.  It’s best to return to one’s natural leadership instincts during times of change.

7.    Communicate clearly and often:  The narrative and brand will take a hit, no doubt. Keep the communications channels in full swing.  Some entities prefer to send a press release out thinking that should do it.  A change of leadership is a good time to manage and lead the narrative around the change.  Take control of the story from the start.

Our Navigator Partner Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive with governance covering human rights, media and education.  

Image courtesy of sippakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

CEO = Chief Engagement Officer

In a time when responsibilities of CEOs have become more complex, many leaders will say there will be common factors which provide ballast to a CEO’s tool kit of skills – financial, strategic, tactical, relationship with the Chair, understanding of Shareholder expectations.  One element which is often missed is the ability to authenticly engage with stakeholders critical to the success of the company.

Our people
As a senior executive it is your responsibility to engage employees in your vision, strategy or the transformation of the business.  The CEO as the Chief Engagement Officer might be required when tasked with the challenge of ‘aligning and mobilizing’ people to the vision set by the Board and outlined by Shareholders.   In either case, you no longer want compliant people, you want individuals who will engage their creativity at work.  For their part, engaged employees want a say in their work and in how the business changes and the direction it is heading.   In a complex environment, good CEOs recognise the value of opening up decision making to the right groups to improve the quality of their decisions and change, accelerate execution and broaden ownership.

HR experts might say it sounds like internal communication which the HR Manager or the Communications Manager current undertakes.  It is not.  It requires all the skills acquired by the CEO over his or her broad experiences and calls on every ounce of intestinal fortitude to discuss, test, and discard elements of executive decisions based on the views of staff and other managers.  It requires a structured and practical framework with which employees drive performance and change.

Our customer or client
A CEO as the company’s Chief Engagement Officer is going to have to go and meet the customer or community it serves and have an open mind at these interactions and actually make relationships personally and listen.  This type of engagement requires the CEO to play outside of the parameters set by the Board…writing that bit also sent shudders through my fingers; it’s a risk but there are many examples of such parameters being relaxed to ensure the best results for the company.

Leaders such as Sir Ralph Norris, Rob Fyfe or Sir Stephen Tindall were natural engagement officers.  Their reputations were strengthened around engaging directly with the customers over the course of their relationship with the brand rather than trying to push a sale in a short interaction.  Engagement is all about how you interact with the product and service around it. This is about moving from short term advertising to long term amplification.

Our Board
Do I need to write why engagement is critical here?  Well, I actually do.  I’ve come across a number of CEOs who forget all about engagement principles when it comes to their Board.  Engagement is about listening first and foremost.  Board members are appointed based on their broad experiences and ability to achieve results.  This involves appointing the CEO to drive the vision and strategy  of the company.  If the CEO as the Chief Engagement Officer cannot listen to the views of their Board then taking a race horsing analogy, the CEO is a lame horse before it left the starting gate.

Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced executive specialising in communications, relationship management and stakeholder engagement.

Image courtesy of Photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Common leadership traits of US Presidents – no surprises here

I’m a fan of US history, having studied it at high school, university (BA in History/Politics) and from time to time reading about it whilst my kids are napping – I’ve probably put them to sleep at some point reading them an article or book on great Civil War battles.   There are a number of good Presidential historians but John Dallek is my favourite.  He argues that there are five categories by which to measure an effective President – elements which have been absent or prominent in the least and most effective Presidents.  I will call these the ‘five constants of effective democratic leadership.’

With our own upcoming election, these constant qualities might be useful for our own politicians – particularly those in Opposition – to remember.

Constant 1:  Vision
Every successful president has had vision or insight.  He has had a clear idea of where he wished to lead the nation in its quest for a better future.  From America’s Manifest Destiny to expand across the continent or to winning the Cold War and bring democracy to every nation or to stopping the domino effect of Communism.  No matter what your views of actual policy, a clear and comprehensible grand design has been central to every significant presidential advance.

Constant 2:  Pragmatism
The most successful POTUS are those who have been pragmatic – politicians who understood that politics is the art of the possible or that the road to proficient leadership was through a sensible opportunism or flexible response to changing conditions at home and abroad.  The vision remained clear and set; the way to that vision however was adaptable.  In other words, the outcome or result was far more important than the process.

Constant 3:  Consensus-builder
Presidential gains have depended on the consent of the governed: presidents without a national consensus for major policies touching people’s everyday lives are politicians courting defeat. Equally important was the ability to bring together a team from all backgrounds, representing different views and communities.  The ability to find consensus at Cabinet level and with his advisers provided the ballast with which the president can confidently engage with the masses.

Constant 4:  Charisma – Every leader can communicate, but few can connect
The best presidents have always recognized that leadership required a personal connection between the president and the people, or that the power of the Oval Office rests to a great degree on the affection of the country for its ‘commander in chief’.  From Washington to Lincoln to the two Roosevelts, Kennedy, Clinton, Reagan, or Obama, the force of presidential personality has been a major factor in determining a president’s fate.  Social media has changed the nature of this constant but the aim still remains of ensuring that the POTUS is sitting with you in that room talking about issues that matter to you.

Constant 5:  Trust
Its a no brainer that like every other leader, presidents need credibility – presidents who are unable to earn the trust of their countrymen/women are governors who cannot govern.  It is why every major political attack centres around trust – bringing down the leader’s credibility, brings down their mandate to lead.  History will also show that the majority of situations where presidents have lost trust of the people has been self-inflicted.

While vision, pragmatism, consensus-building, charisma and trustworthiness may be considered discrete categories, they are in fact inextricably linked: each of these political practices connects to and builds upon the other.

Dallek argues that no president has distinguished himself simply by being a visionary, or a good practical politician, or a charming, trustworthy reflector of national views.  Taken as a whole, however, they demonstrate why and how past presidents have served the nation well and how a fresh attempt at understanding them can advance the cause of enlightened leadership in the years ahead.  As is always the case with history, the past does not offer surefire solutions to current dilemmas, but it can provide guidelines that future chiefs ignore at their peril.

Peter Fa’afiu is an executive with governance experience across a number of sectors.  He is a Shareholder of Navigator NZ Ltd.  He is learning every day about real leadership.

Image courtesy of Damian Brandon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free communications advice for The Blues

As someone who was raised in Glen Innes, Auckland, I’m a big Blues fan – actually the perfect fan from a franchise perspective: businessperson, family man, former rugby player to a good level, faithful Aucklander, and the ability to pay for a season family pass to the games.

As much as your communications advisors will tell you Sir John et al that the recent Benji Marshall ‘change of heart’ is not major, reality check: it was a freaking debacle. Let me roll through why and as I type away (strongly) on my keyboard, note that it comes with ease.

1. It will impact on the Blues brand. They say brand development and management is the creation of a relationship between the company (The Blues), the product or service (the players), and the customer for the purpose of building long term commercial loyalty. Last August you rolled out Benji as the best idea to come from a Super Rugby franchise since the creation of the competition concept itself. Against the best advice of experts on both sides of the Tasman, the Blues management and coaches bet the brand of the franchise on this man. The brand has taken a massive hit with customers/fans; you asked us last August to trust the franchise with its decision. Sorry lads, trust in the brand just hitched a ride on Benji’s plane.

2. It felt amateurish from day one. The franchise is a customer facing business. Its decisions based on good and well researched information, not emotion. They say perception is everything in a communications crisis. The perception I get is that the franchise changed its mind on day two and felt too embarrassed to fix it immediately. It was four months of amateur rugby before the game turned professional.

3. You treated the fella poorly. Ok, he got paid $400k per season but geez the poor bugger had to leave his home and friends and his wife left her career and both had to start afresh in a new city. You make him feel special and then bring in a couple of low level first fives (ok Hickey is freaking brilliant!) and disrespect him by benching him, putting him in a position he has to go up against an incumbent AB, and then continue to tell the media that he’s doing well and learning whilst in the background you plan on putting him in Club rugby. Sorry Blues – bad behaviour…or is it just habits.

4. Always apologise even when its not your fault. You can express empathy via the media e.g. it was a journey where there were lessons learned on both sides. He is a great footy player and I wish him all the best for the future in rugby league. Not hard aye?

5. Blues management/owners need to leave footy decisions well alone. The owners should focus on getting customers through the gate. They could have achieved that through various other means. I would, as a fan, love to see the hard data that shows that Benji was great for getting fans through the gate. I doubt it. Benji’s reputation as a prima donna in the NRL is well known. You then were going to pay him more than other players to learn the game. It was a bad investment decision so tell me as experienced business people, what would be the result in your businesses if such poor decisions were made? Focus on playing in the Boardroom rather than on sidelines.

6. Winning is the only way to kill this debacle. If you lose against the Warratahs this weekend then get ready for another couple of weeks of “I told you so.” You are now playing for more than points this weekend; its the reputation of the franchise at stake and jobs of some of the staff. A suggestion – put a sign that says “I told you so” on the top of the changing room door and get the players to touch it on the way out. That should focus them.

Peter Fa’afiu is an experienced senior executive and board member. His expert areas are communications, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning and execution.

 

Signs of bad leadership to look out for

In my short professional career, I’ve come across some great leaders.  I’ve also come across some terrible ones.  Below is a list of tell tale signs of bad leadership – if you are currently experiencing the majority of these; free advice – get the CV out.  There is only headache and hardship at the end of that road.

1.    I know best attitude.  This often starts with phrases such as ‘I hear that but I know it would be better if…’ or ‘I’m telling you, you’re doing it wrong.’  Jack Welch once said that leaders should not be the smartest guy or gal in the room; if they were then they will be doing everything.  Leadership is about learning; the journey of discovery, and ensuring your people are also given the opportunity to experience the journey.

2.    Treats contestable advice as a personal affront.  Robust conversations are part and parcel of any good business.  But some leaders believe the only advice should be that linked to their viewpoint.  I’ve been in situations where the leaders believe diverse opinions only apply to other people.  It’s an affront to us that you don’t actively listen and care!

3.    Reads all the leadership books but fails miserably in putting it into practice.  The nice phrases come out but lacks any authenticity especially when one uses phrases they are uncomfortable with e.g. when you don’t feel comfortable saying ‘bro’ or ‘uso’, don’t say it.  Be yourself not someone else.

4.   Never makes a call (lacks decision making skills).  Leaders should take on board the views and opinions of others whether it be peers or direct reports or Board members but for Gods sake (!) make a decision.  You are paid to make informed decisions and back it up time and time again – staff will follow you if they know where their leader is heading and how to get there.

5.   Doesn’t live up to the values of the organisation.  Number 4 (the how, where, and what) is important.  However, leaders not living up to their organisational values does not answer the ‘why’.  A leader who is unable to continuously advocate the why should let a peer or Board member do it.

6.   Leadership guru, Peter Drucker, once said that organisational culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Any leader who allows the organisational culture to be part of a downward spiral is only fit to lead the buying of their plane ticket out of the country.  People will follow their leader and do great things when the culture is one of innovation, free thought, results oriented, and customer centric – there is heaps more but you get the drift.

7.    Inability to read the road markings whether it be from Shareholders or the Board.  A CEO or senior leader must be able to read the signs delivered by their Board.  The appointment and monitoring of a CEO is the number one governance issue for a Board.  They will therefore ensure that there is clarity around how the CEO is progressing.  I’ve been in an organisation where the signals are so present, they are blinding.  Read the road markings or become road kill.

8.    Inability (or want) to develop future leaders.  The best leaders I’ve worked with are those who continuously look beyond their own tenure.  They wish to leave a long term legacy of organisational sustainability which is supported by a succession plan.  They recognise talent quickly, incentivise them to stay, and develop them into a leader who lives and breaths the organisational culture.

9.   Negative, negative, negative attitude.  What more can I say.

One or two of the elements above are fine and fixable.  However, if you get the above eight (or majority) then do what I’ve done previously – pray and hope that the Board finds its collective intestinal fortitude to act quickly.

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

What should today’s leader teach tomorrow’s leader?

I was recently invited back to my alma mater, Sacred Heart College  in Auckland, to speak to its assembly.  SHC (day and boarding school for boys) has a very proud history of Catholic faith-based teaching.  Since 1903, it has provided New Zealand great New Zealanders including 18 All Blacks, many other top sportsmen, great musicians (e.g. Split Enz, The Dudes), military leaders during wartime, Rhodes scholars, CEOs, political leaders and a Governor-General.  It is particularly special for me as its 1996 Head Boy.  When I attended, only 6% of its students were of Pasifika and Māori descent, today 20% of its 1,300 young men are Pasifika and Māori.  I was asked to speak to the 1,300 of being a leader – below are some of my off the cuff thoughts I shared with them on the day:

I was introduced by a teacher. He spoke about what had done since I had left in 1996, I rose and explained that they had heard about what I did, now it was important to hear about WHO I AM.  It is important for a leader to be true to who he is and to remember where he has come from:  My maunga is Maungarei, my awa is Tamaki, my ‘hood is Leybourne Circle, my suburb is GI, my birthplace is Satuimalufilufi, Samoa; my family is Fa’afiu, my clan is Setefano; therefore I am a son of Samoa but a proud and patriotic New Zealander.

I congratulated them all on their achievements.  But I also reminded them that there will be MANY CHALLENGES AHEAD.  Barriers will be put in front of  them; walls will come up; and some people will seek to hurt them (and others). But it is the leader who breaks down those walls and who sees the opportunity behind every difficulty.  It is a leader who will seek out other like minds to overcome challenges together.  The leader will be one out in front of the pack, not hiding in the back.  The leader must make difficult decisions during those challenging times – this is when a leader calls on who they are as a person and make the decision not only based on experience but also staying true to oneself.

Sometimes a leader DOESN’T NEED THE TITLE TO SAY HE IS A LEADER.  The greatest examples of leadership are those who perceived themselves as ordinary but yet do extraordinary acts.  A leader is a new father who asks for help; a leader shows emotion and knows when it is time to ask for support; a leader is someone who gives just a little bit more to make someone else feel good; a leader is someone who listens intently; a leader does good not because someone is looking but just because it is good; and a leader is one who seeks to grow every day knowing they do not know it all.

A leader will be confronted with difficult choices.  A response will differ depending on a situation but it is a brave leader who steps up when no one else wishes to step forward.  It is the strong leader who ensures that the most needy in society is helped up.  It is a Catholic leader who TREATS ALL WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY.  Some in our society will not have the same opportunities, therefore it is compassionate leader who gives their time and resources to provide others a helping and supportive hand.

A leader will receive many great and good things in life. A good leader should never feel bad about being rewarded for hard work and good deeds.  But a great leader should ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU.  At this point, I made all 1,300 boys stand up and on the count of three, I asked them to look at the closest teacher and say ‘thank you.’   And, you know what, they did it.  Not because I made them do it but because they were given the opportunity to do so…that’s what I’m hoping anyway.

Peter Fa’afiu is an executive with a strong track record of delivering results. He also has governance experience across media, human rights, and education and is a shareholder in Navigator NZ Limited.