Leadership doesn't happen overnight. It is nurtured, honed, and continuously developed. This is the ethos behind the Whanake o te Kōpara Programme—a comprehensive leadership development programme delivered by Women in Sport Aotearoa and Shift. Designed for young women aged 19-25, the programme is more than just a series of workshops and discussions. It's an investment in the leaders of tomorrow, specifically for a group that has often been overlooked: young women, particularly those involved in sport, active recreation, and wellbeing sectors in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
In a world increasingly cognisant of the need for strong, well-rounded leaders, the Whanake o te Kōpara Programme plays an instrumental role. It doesn't just aim to fill a professional skills gap; it strives to fill an emotional and mental one, too. Young women emerge from the programme with newfound skills, certainly, but also with an emotional intelligence that enriches not only their professional journeys but their personal lives as well.
For the past two years, R&E has been proud to support this Programme. At the heart of our involvement is The Emotional Culture Deck, a tool that is as innovative as it is impactful. Led by Sarah Lebermann MNZM, Professor of Leadership at Massey University, The Emotional Culture Deck plays a vital role in the programme's curriculum and the development of young leaders on the Programme. It serves as a conduit for young women to navigate their emotional and social complexities, often for the first time. And the results speak volumes.
In our recently released video, we've captured poignant insights from Sarah Lebermann and three remarkable participants: Brittany Hastings-Kutty, Shuari Naidoo, and Shayal Ram. Their stories serve as a testament to the immense power of the Whanake o te Kōpara Programme in shaping leaders who are emotionally resilient, self-aware, and fully equipped to impact their communities in meaningful ways.
Sarah Lebermann beautifully summed up the importance of focusing on emotional well-being in leadership:
"You don't cry; you're supposed to be really objective and stand back, whereas I'm trying to say, well, actually, that's not the best way to be. If we can understand how we need to feel to be at our best and how we don't want to feel, then we can actually create environments that work for us individually and then we amplify that out into our teams."
The real beauty of the Whanake o te Kōpara Programme lies in its ripple effect. The participants, empowered and enlightened, return to their communities, creating further ripples of change and development. The Emotional Culture Deck has proved invaluable in this, used not just in professional settings but personal ones too. One participant even mentioned using The Emotional Culture Deck to enhance her communication with her less talkative partner—a prime example of The ECDs universal applicability and impact beyond the workplace.
R&E remains proudly committed to the Whanake o te Kōpara Programme, and we couldn't be more honoured to contribute to this noble cause. If there is one thing that's clear, it's that leadership is far from a one-dimensional construct. Leadership is an emotional tapestry. It's woven with threads of experience, emotional intelligence, and the courage to act. As we continue our partnership, we look forward to the growth, transformation, and leadership that will undoubtedly emerge from these inspiring young women.