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A new way of thinking: Systems thinking for leadership

As leaders, we need to look at the big picture to identify challenges and support our team to find productive solutions. We sat down with Paul Larkin, Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach at WLA, to discuss how systems thinking can allow us to strategically address issues for our teams.What is the difference between systems thinking and systematic thinking? Paul uses a frog analogy to explain the difference to the leaders he coaches.“If you wanted to understand a frog systematically, you’d take it to the lab, put it to sleep and methodically dissect it, learning about each part of its makeup in a linear, structured fashion,” he explained.“If you want to understand the frog’s system you’d go to the pond where it lives and observe how it interacts with its environment, what it eats, what eats it, how the nearby farms that fertilise their crops affect the ecosystem in which the frog lives etc. We see the bigger picture of the frog, how it is interdependent with other parts of the system in which it lives and how small changes can effect big change,” Paul concluded.So, rather than following a set process to look at individual parts, looking at something using systems thinking allows you to take a broader view, and identify the interdependent and external influences that can have an impact on the system and its parts that we want to understand. It’s about observing the environment – ecologists and economists are examples of professions that engage in systems thinking.Why don’t I already use systems thinking? As leaders, we are often thinking and problem-solving systematically. Taking action to resolve an issue is usually praised and seen as an indicator of positive influence and performance. There is nothing wrong with solving problems in a systematic fashion. But some problems are more complex and cannot be dealt with as readily.Systems thinking affords us an approach for working with complex problems in creative and sometimes counter-intuitive ways.How can I use systems thinking to create positive change in my organisation? By using systems thinking, you can step back from day-to-day problem solving, and consider the root causes of problems. You can identify interdependencies and understand the bigger picture.Paul uses the example of an IT department in a big corporation. Their team set KPIs around how quickly IT issues were resolved (90 percent of issues being fixed within a day). While this was an important measure, the team was focusing on ‘fixing’ problems, not on ‘eliminating’ problems – that is, addressing the causes and preventing the problems happening again.By taking a systems thinking approach, the team was able to shift their mental model and improving their performance. The team’s KPIs switched from the percentage of problems fixed to the percentage of problems eliminated, and within just a couple of months achieved a 70 percent reduction in problems and associated cost.This example highlights how a shift to systems thinking can increase productivity and solve recurring issues.How can I move into a systems thinking mind-frame?Taking a wider look at your organisation or team is the first step towards systems thinking.“Mentally stepping back and observing what is going on is crucial,” Paul explains. “Talk to people who are new to the organisation and who are not yet imbued with the culture and mental models that come with it – fresh eyes with different perspectives are critical.Paul also encourages leaders to have open conversations with teams: “Have a conversation with your team that explores their thinking, beliefs, mental models and values that inform how the team operates. Find out why they do things a certain way. Looking at other sectors and organisations with similar issues can also be a huge help.“Consider how success is measured in the organisation, as this often determines how people respond to different situations. There is a saying which goes, ’People will do what you ask them to do. Make sure you ask what you really want.’ What gets measured gets done. And over time, it creates beliefs (mental models) about what is the ‘right’ way to do the job.” Paul explains.What are some tips for systems thinking? The following, although not exhaustive, can provide some ways into addressing issues with a systems thinking approach:Identify a recurring problem in your team or organisation – look for patterns in results and people’s behaviour, individually and collectively.Look for interdependencies; how different parts of the system interact and affect other parts.Explore processes, performance measures and decision-making criteria to try and surface the team or organisation’s beliefs, values, and mental models (which is extremely challenging, involves many conversations and can prove the most fruitful).Do not expect easy or immediate results. Systems change usually involves many people, often with different agendas, to engage in dialogue and work together to achieve a common outcome. Is there an issue in your team that you can address using systems thinking? Share it with us in the comments below!

Explainer: What is the Gender Pay Gap, and where does it come from?

By Jane GilmoreThis blog is part of our Expert Commentary series, bringing you insights into some of the unspoken challenges women face in the workplace, from experts with lived experience. The series explores a range of topics and perspectives to highlight the ways inclusive and compassionate leadership practices can benefit everyone.The gender pay gap is one of those things that is both simple and complex at the same time. The official national gender pay gap figure, which is calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), is currently 14.2 per cent.WGEA takes data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and works out the difference between what men and women earn for full time work (excluding overtime and bonuses) and express it as a percentage of men’s earning.So, very simply, this is how WGEA calculated the Gender Pay Gap on the latest data from August 2021.Average Weekly Full Time Ordinary Earnings:Men: $1837Women: $1575.50Difference: $261.50Divided by men’s earnings: $261.50 / $1837 = 0.1423Gender Pay Gap = 14.2%The method is reasonable if we’re trying to understand whether there is a difference in what men and women earn for the same hours of work. But if we’re trying to understand the difference in gender based economic security, we need to look at the bigger picture.Many women, especially women with children, do not work full time over their entire lives. Additionally, overtime and bonuses are not shared equally between men and women.Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that of parents with children under six years old, 94 per cent of men and 65 per cent of women are in the workforce. Of those parents who do work, 60 per cent of mothers work part time, compared to 8 per cent of fathers. And 48 per cent of mothers with children between the ages of 6 and 14 are still working part time.Taking time away from work, or reducing working hours, means women have fewer chances to increase skills and experience, which affects career progression and promotion opportunities. It also means women are making lower superannuation contributions during their child raising years.Additionally, female dominated industries, such as childcare and administrative work, are among the lowest paid in the country. Male dominated workforces tend to be much better paid. The intricacies of this are complicated, but it mostly boils down to what is perceived as “women’s work” is undervalued and underpaid, while still requiring high levels of skill and dedication.The accumulated lifetime effects of women’s underpaid and unpaid work are proven in the drastically disproportionate superannuation balances at retirement age.According to not-for-profit organisation Women in Super, Australian women retire with 47 percent less superannuation than men. Around 40 percent of older single retired women live in poverty.If you’re a woman reading this and you find it scary, you’re right to feel that way. The Covid-19 pandemic put pressure on all the forces that impact women’s working lives. Women lost more jobs at the beginning of the pandemic and were more likely to return to casual jobs when they did get work again, which makes them more vulnerable to job and income losses in future lockdowns.Women in all age groups were also more likely than men to withdraw their entire balance under the emergency superannuation access scheme in 2020, and women overall withdrew a greater proportion of their superannuation than men. Women over 50 were already the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia and this will only get worse as housing affordability worsens and older women have less superannuation to pay living expenses when they stop working.Fixing the gender pay gap is a monumental task, but it’s not impossible. We need government to make policy that encourages parents to share the paid and unpaid work of raising children equally. We need businesses to actively engage in looking at their own gender pay gap, which means doing an internal audit of how much they pay everyone in their organisation and whether there is a significant gender difference in their senior management. WGEA provides a number of tools businesses can use to evaluate their gender pay equity and start to address it.We can’t change something we don’t measure, so often the simplest way to start is to measure what’s happening in our own organisations. At the very least, it gives us a place to start and demonstrates a willingness to act. That is no small thing.Jane Gilmore was the founding editor of The King’s Tribune. She has a Master of Journalism from The University of Melbourne and is now a freelance journalist and author, with a particular interest in feminism, media and data journalism. Jane is the creator of the FixedIt campaign, which highlights victim blaming and erasure of male violence from news headlines. Her book FixedIt: Violence and the Representation of Women in the Media was published by Penguin Random House in August 2019.

Advisory Board: Maintaining Momentum for Change

A burst of attention and nation-wide marches protesting workplace sexual harassment and the treatment of women marked the beginning of 2021. But hopes this would lead to rapid and widespread change in many workplaces haven’t been met, according to discussion at the latest Women & Leadership Australia Advisory Board meeting.The momentum from the outcry and focus earlier this year has faltered as clear action, and overt leadership commitment, remains patchy.But while that crucial shift has often failed to materialise a number of board members reported some changes, with an increase in claims of harassment and bullying, greater demand for advice on building workplace inclusion and efforts to provide safe channels for complaints.Several noted that pressure to address the problem was a recognition of the increasing risk harassment and bullying represents for many organisations due to serious financial and reputational costs.The need to offer employees reporting channels that protect them from career backlash and effective resolution mechanisms is slowly sinking in too.Perhaps just as importantly, several board members noted preventative steps have been introduced in some organisations. This includes training on respectful workplace relationships, bystander training and a focus on proactive identification of harassment/bullying cases.On a broader level, work is continuing to address the poor culture in Parliament House and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership is working to develop a Code Of Conduct in parallel with the review being led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.The recently enacted Victorian Gender Equality Act 2021 provides a template for other States with a legislated framework for mandatory measuring and reporting progress towards gender equity by public sector employers.A less overt shift noted by some members was an overdue recognition from boards and executives that bullying and harassment faced by women are driven by gender inequity which is a strategic business issue – and needs attention beyond HR.Racism remains a brutal reality for women from diverse backgrounds, the board heard, and demand from business for information and advice on addressing the toxic mix with sexism is on the increase. There has been growing impetus for change from #BlackLivesMatter and Stop Asian Hate campaigns.But even raising the topic usually has repercussions, especially for younger or less senior women employees.Meanwhile, even though the economic recovery appears to be underway, women continue to bear the brunt of increased unpaid work.Women in a number of WLA programs continue to report high levels of exhaustion and anxiety from the burden of unpaid work as the pandemic progresses and concern about the future of their jobs. Many also feel a lack of power to call out bullying.Despite some progress in the business community, WLA has also identified a need for more male leadership training on creating inclusive workplaces, and organisational bystander training.As an experienced provider of leadership development and gender equity initiatives, WLA has an opportunity to extend its offering to include men in inclusive leadership programs, through its sister organisation Australian School of Applied Management. The need to keep up the momentum for change remains a concern for WLA and the board.Regardless of the recent slow pace of progress, however, most agreed the high-profile events this year have acted as a long overdue circuit breaker for employers.The key messages from the discussion:The transition from talk to action on workplace sexual harassment and gender inequity needs more commitment in organisations – including senior leadership training on identifying and addressing the problems and bystander training to create safety for employees and tackle backlash for those reportingSenior men are struggling to respond to the current changes and the demand for women’s empowerment – lack of understanding/fear is preventing leaders from speaking out about the need for action which targeted education could address   Intersectionality remains a significant barrier and disadvantage for many women with widespread racism yet to be effectively acknowledged or tackled in many workplaces, and few options to safely raise concerns. Women & Leadership Australia’s work is supported and guided by a prestigious and highly respected national board of advisors. Find out more here.

Put out to Pasture - Ageism in the Workplace

All of life is an adventure. Every stage of it brings new perspectives and experiences and getting older is no different. Ageing is – in many ways – delightful. There is a calm that comes with having lived for many decades, a recognition that what you have got is probably all you are going to get and, for many of us, that turns out to be just fine – as long as we are not actually on the breadline or struggling to keep a roof over our heads, but more about that later. I have learnt that it is often the striving for more that creates the angst, not the failure to get it.

Natasha Stott Despoja on Leadership

Natasha Stott Despoja AM is the 2021 recipient of the National Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. We had a chat with her to find out about her leadership life, her biggest inspirations, and what she is currently advocating for. Tell us about your leadership life to date?My school and university life always revolved around student representation and advocacy. I was a proud activist and advocate at university: I still believe that education is the great equaliser and that education should be publicly funded and accessible to all. It leads to a more enlightened and democratic society. I was proud to take my place as the youngest woman to ever enter the Federal Parliament when I was 26. It was important to me to show young people and women generally that our experiences and lives deserve to be reflected and represented in parliament. I have had a number of formal leadership roles, including as a national political party leader, all of which have taught me a lot about the differential treatment of men and women in politics as well as our perceptions of women as leaders. Throughout my leadership journey I have found double standards apply to men and women in public life and in politics especially. I was subject to ridiculous and demeaning stereotypes throughout my parliamentary career. I look forward to the day when this is no longer the case.I am also wary of defining leadership only in the sense of formal leadership roles: leadership is a mindset: that you, and your actions, can make a difference. I believe that real and lasting improvements to our world-- require us all to be leaders – within our families, with friends, in workplaces and our communities.  What is your proudest moment as a leader?As Leader of the Australian Democrats, I was proud to introduce cutting-edge legislation, such as Australia’s first national paid parental leave legislation. I was proud that I always stood up for the things I believe in even when they were not always popular including opposing regressive policies that demonised refugees and asylum seekers, paternalistic legislation that targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and changes to the Family Court that have made women’s and children’s lives worse. I have always been a proud feminist and my commitment to gender equality has been lifelong…and will continue to be.Who are some of your inspirations as a leader?Many women around the world, from Angela Merkel to Malala Yousafzai, Lowitja O’Donahue to Hilary Rodham Clinton. I also derive a lot of inspiration from unsung heroines and take heart from the next generation of leaders: I love the new movement of young people who are calling out inappropriate behaviour, championing social justice and refusing to deal with injustice and discrimination. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?Always stand up for what you believe in.  I am also a great believer in networks – be it friends and family or like-minded colleagues and campaigners. It is so hard to fight every day for things you believe in without support.How do you give back to women in your field?In any way I can. Where I can I provide financial support and resources be it donations or support. This week, I am excited to celebrate 16 years of my scholarship at The University of Adelaide. It is for women in the humanities who need help with their fees. I also try and meet with women and provide some personal advice, networking where I can. My working life has been about promoting women’s rights and supporting women. We don’t always get it right but I try. I was taught very early by my single parent mother, Shirley, that’s it not enough to succeed or achieve, we have an obligation to make it better for the next woman and for all women.What are you advocating for now?My daily work revolves around primary prevention of violence against women and children in Australia, but I combine that with my international work through the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) at the UN which involves safeguarding and protecting women’s rights as well as progressing these rights through Member States around the world. I am involved in a number of not for profits including ActionAid, Carrie’s Beanies for Brain Cancer and Global Citizen, Girls Takeover Parliament and the Fay Gale Centre at The University of Adelaide, so all my work is underpinned by a commitment to social change and social justice.What does receiving the National Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership mean to you?I share this with the many women who work every day to keep women and children safe. It is a generous acknowledgement which I value greatly. It means so much to me to have the issue of preventing violence against women recognised in this way. It propels me to work hard for the rights of women and girls, especially those from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds.Natasha will accept her award in Canberra at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium. Find out about the event here.

Lt CMDR Kelly Haywood on Leadership

Lt CMDR Kelly Haywood is the 2021 recipient of the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership. We had a chat with her to find out about her leadership life, her biggest inspirations, and what she is currently advocating for. Tell us about your leadership life to date? I joined the Navy 24 years ago and have the absolute pleasure of leading teams at sea, ashore, in war zones and at home in Australia. My most recent leadership role (and probably the most rewarding) was as the Navy Women Strategic Advisor. Outside of Navy, I am also the founder and manage a mental health initiative called ‘Choose to Live; Love your Life’.What is your proudest moment as a leader? Most definitely the significant changes we have been able to make in recent years in the Navy Women space. We have established several initiatives that have directly impacted the retention of our women in Navy. These include the Navy Women Mentoring Program, the development of a Navy Handbook on Pregnancy and Support to Navy Parents and revised policy on Breastfeeding in the Workplace. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing others succeed and the opportunities we have provided to our women such as speaking courses and external developmental opportunities have enabled this.Who are some of your inspirations as a leader? Jacinda Ardern, Michelle Obama and so many amazing humans leading the way in our ADF.What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Back yourself, be kind to yourself, ask for help when you need it.How do you give back to women in your field? Everything we do in the Navy Women space is about giving back to those coming after us and making sure our people feel valued, supported and respected. We give back by ensuring our people are recognised, empowered and have the courage and confidence to do all they set out to achieve in their careers.What are you advocating for now?I want to continue to give back and make change where change needs to be made. I would love to continue to build on the amazing work already happening and make sure our people have every opportunity to succeed.What does receiving the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership mean to you? The award means everything. I am so incredibly passionate about the Navy, the ADF and our people. I want to be able to show what can be achieved whatever path or career you choose and the difference you can make when you find your purpose. My purpose is helping others.Lt CMDR Haywood will accept her award in Canberra at the Australian Women’s Leadership Symposium. Find out about the event here.

Navy Women’s Expert Mentor Program available to all

The Expert Mentor Program , created by Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) to support the Navy in their gender equity work, is now available for all people in Australia who wish to contribute to gender equity in their industry and organisation.The program was created in partnership with the Royal Australian Navy, as part of their initiatives to support more women to take on entry level, middle and senior leadership roles within the organisation.LEUT Kim Green from the Directorate of Navy Culture, said of the program, “the Navy Women’s Mentor Program links Navy personnel of all ranks, categories, primary qualifications and experience, from across the country through a virtual mentoring framework where the support and development of all Navy people is a priority. Navy views mentorship as a key enabler to retention and capability and as Navy continues to grow our female participation rate, the mentoring program is seen as a key enabler for gender equality and future gender parity.“The inaugural first round of the Navy Women’s Mentor Program was well received with over 200 personnel registering for mentorship. As the mentoring program matures, we are seeing an increased demand for future participation which is a fantastic outcome for Navy and our people.”The program has now been adapted to assist current and aspiring mentors in all industries to maximise their approach, in order to provide meaningful professional and personal growth to their mentees.Suzi Finkelstein, CEO of WLA, said of the initiative; “We have done so much meaningful work with the Navy. The impact of this program inspired us to adapt this program for all industries. We want to ensure women across all industries and sectors can benefit from this best-practice mentoring program.“Mentoring is a powerful tool for enabling gender equity and breaking down stereotypes. Good mentors have no agenda other than assisting their mentees in reaching their own goals. They aim to provide a safe, confidential space for their mentees to explore new ideas, and an unbiased sounding board to test their assumptions.“And for the mentor, the relationship can build confidence, provide opportunities for self-reflection, and generate a sense of satisfaction in supporting emerging women leaders.​“The Expert Mentor Program imbues mentors with the skills required to facilitate learning, connection and advancement for the mentee.”Chief Petty Officer Zoe Mack, who participated in the Navy Women’s Mentor Program said that “throughout working with my mentor I have gained insight into different opportunities available to me that I hadn’t previously considered. My mentor encouraged and supported me to tread my own path and facilitated a space for me to be unapologetic with my ambitions. Discussions with my mentor have propelled me, shaping my career into something that fulfils me and helped me find strength in non-traditional paths.“The Navy Women’s Mentor Program has not only assisted me in having clarity of my own professional career path, but has also given me the confidence and the skills to support the younger generation of Navy personnel to develop theirs.”The Expert Mentor Program is a one day, online, immersive program. Facilitated by Women & Leadership Australia, participants will spend the day learning from WLA’s expert leadership facilitators and subject matter experts. You can see more about the program and enrol here.

The Mentor Diaries: Tracey Spicer and Nicole Iligoueva

To celebrate the launch of the Expert Mentor Program, WLA Connect is bringing you a series of interviews with mentor/mentee pairs. These interviews aim to shine a light on the benefits of being a mentor and mentee, the qualities that mentors and mentees find useful, and what both parties most enjoy about their relationship. This interview focuses on Tracey Spicer and Nicole (Niki) Iligoueva, who were connected through the Media Diversity Australia mentoring program.More than ever, we need to support women to step into leadership roles. The Expert Mentor Program will help you develop the skills to be an exceptional mentor and champion emerging women leaders in your industry and organisation. Find out more here.What are some of the benefits of being a mentor? Tracey: I'm extremely inspired by the intellect, energy and broader world view of the women I mentor. After working in difficult environments in the media for more than 30 years, I'm heartened to hear from these strong young women about their determination to speak out about discrimination. I always feel re-energised after a mentoring session. Truly, I learn as much from my mentees as they learn from me. It's a symbiotic and collaborative relationship.When you are looking for a mentor for yourself, what qualities do you look for? Tracey: I look for someone with solid values, who's encountered barriers or challenges in their careers. Everyone has their own ways of overcoming hurdles, so you can build a toolkit of strategies. I also look for someone with patience! Working in quick turnaround news environments for most of my life means that I like things to happen quickly. One thing I need to learn is that change takes time.What can a mentor do to make sure that both the mentor and mentee are able to make the most of that relationship? Tracey: Listen! It's more important to hear what your mentee is saying, rather than to talk all the time. Also, be led by your protégé. This empowers them to make their own choices.What are some of the most important lessons/pieces of wisdom you have learned from a mentor? And what makes them so important?Niki: I think the best nugget of wisdom I’ve received from my mentor is that we all have our moments and it’s okay to mess up sometimes. In the context of journalism, audiences want relatability and realness, so if you just be yourself, learn from your mistakes and continue to put yourself out there, good things will come your way.Just remember to take deep breaths, try your best and ask for feedback so you can improve. This was an important piece of advice because realising that it's okay to fail or not know things actually alleviates pressure and encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and move forward.When you get the opportunity to be a mentor to someone, what sort of mentor would you like to be? Niki: One that acts with empathy and genuinely wants to see their mentee grow. Trying to upskill or find work can be a lonely process, and having someone there to listen, believe in you and help you take the necessary steps to achieve your goals can make all the difference.If I were a mentor, I’d also like to identify and keep at the forefront what the mentee would like to gain from the relationship, to ensure that it is being utilised as efficiently as possible. This could include organising regular catch ups to discuss intention, progress and what can be done better on both sides of the relationship.What can a mentee do to make sure that both the mentor and the mentee can make the most of that relationship? Niki: Be real with your mentor about your struggles so that they can properly identify how they can help you, and also ensure that there is a clear line of communication and that you’re being appreciative and respectful of your mentors’ time.About Tracey: Tracey Spicer AM is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers and emcees in the region. In 2019 she was named the NSW Premier’s Woman of the Year, and in 2018 chosen as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence, winning the Social Enterprise and Not-For-Profit category. You can connect with Tracey here.About Niki:Nicole (Niki) Iligoueva is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, film fanatic, foodie and fellow book nerd. She loves telling stories that matter and is currently producing for FBi Radio's flagship politics and current affairs show, Backchat. You can connect with Niki here.About the Expert Mentor Program: The Expert Mentor Program (EMP) has been designed to assist current and aspiring mentors to maximise their approach, in order to provide meaningful professional and personal growth to their mentees. The EMP will provide participants with a dynamic, peer learning experience which is highly collaborative and responsive. The program is delivered online over one full day. The day is broken up into three high-impact, live sessions with breaks in-between. Each session is designed to foster rich dialogue and debate between participants and facilitators. Participants will also be provided with a digital workbook to support their learning.Have you ever been in a mentor/mentee relationship and would like to share your tips? Let us know in the comments!

The Mentor Diaries: Wendy Squires and Abby Alexander

To celebrate the launch of the Expert Mentor Program, WLA Connect is bringing you a series of interviews with mentor/mentee pairs. These interviews aim to shine a light on the benefits of being a mentor and mentee, the qualities that mentors and mentees find useful, and what both parties most enjoy about their relationship. This interview focuses on Wendy Squires and Abby Alexander, who were connected by Tracey Spicer as part of the Women in Media mentoring program.More than ever, we need to support women to step into leadership roles. The Expert Mentor Program will help you develop the skills to be an exceptional mentor and champion emerging women leaders in your industry and organisation. Find out more here.What are some of the benefits of being a mentor?Wendy: Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone starting out in the business getting ahead. Mentoring is incredibly satisfying as it allows me to pass on decades of knowledge and experience which may otherwise be overlooked in modern day media. And the friendships made are long term and profound.When you are looking for a mentor for yourself, what qualities do you look for?Wendy: I look for age, experience, openness and warmth. Mentors are emotional rocks for those encountering inevitable bumps in business for the first time and should be approachable and caring, always.What can a mentor do to make sure that both the mentor and mentee are able to make the most of that relationship?Wendy: They should talk openly and often. Honesty is paramount on both sides. There is no use just saying “oh well, that’s bad luck” when someone is suffering, or the mentee being too embarrassed to admit they need help. Mentoring is about teaching mentees to avoid obstacles and, when they are immovable, how to navigate around them.What are some of the most important lessons/pieces of wisdom you have learned from a mentor? And what makes them so important?Abby: I think one lesson that really stands out for me is boundaries. This is something that Wendy really instilled in me, and still reminds me of to this very day. Working hard, for a good reason, is important. But so is taking time out for yourself, and even when you are just getting started in your career, it is okay to do both.Being a mentee has also helped me to understand the importance of making the most of important connections. You have the opportunity to learn so much from a mentor, but part of that is being prepared. Think about what you want to ask, being mindful of your mentor’s time and ensuring that you are asking them about topics that they have experience in are really beneficial.When you get the opportunity to be a mentor to someone, what sort of mentor would you like to be?Abby: I would like to be open, kind, non-judgemental and generous. I think one of the best things that I have been given by my mentors is a space where I can discuss things and not be judged - plus I get some great advice to boot. We all make mistakes in work and life sometimes, and having someone you can go to and not have to worry about what they will think or say is really comforting.What can a mentee do to make sure that both the mentor and the mentee can make the most of that relationship?Abby: I think a genuine interest and curiosity in your industry, and your mentor, is crucial. Being a mentor takes a lot more time and effort than people realise, and you want to spend that time on someone who is interested, driven, passionate and values your time. Also, take the time to update your mentor on the emerging trends in your industry - just because you have less industry experience, doesn’t meant you can’t teach them something, too.About Wendy:Wendy Squires has been a journalist and editor for more than 25 years, starting her career at News Ltd as a cadet journalist before working her way up to magazines and television.She has been the editor of CLEO and Australian Style magazines and held senior roles on Who Weekly, The Australian Women’s Weekly, Madison and Woman’s Day. In 2009 her novel, The Boys’ Club, was published, based on her year as the Publicity Director at Network Nine.Today, she writes a syndicated opinion column for The Age, freelances for many magazines and websites, appears as a commentator on Sky News and ghost authors biographies for PanMacmillan. Wendy is also writing her second novel, teaching journalism and working as a PR consultant. You can connect with Wendy here.About Abby:Abby Alexander is the Media & Communications Coordinator for Women & Leadership Australia. Prior to that, she studied PR at RMIT. Her writing has appeared on Ten Daily, Sydney Morning Herald, Mamamia, Women's Agenda and Show & Tell Online. You can connect with Abby here.About the Expert Mentoring Program:The Expert Mentor Program has been designed to assist current and aspiring mentors to maximise their approach, in order to provide meaningful professional and personal growth to their mentees. The EMP will provide participants with a dynamic, peer learning experience which is highly collaborative and responsive. The program is delivered online over one full day. The day is broken up into three high-impact, live sessions with breaks in-between. Each session is designed to foster rich dialogue and debate between participants and facilitators. Participants will also be provided with a digital workbook to support their learning.Have you ever been in a mentor/mentee relationship and would like to share your tips? Let us know in the comments!

Four Doors

Dealing with change? These four doors could help Have you heard of the four doors of change? This model, created by Australian innovation expert Jason Clarke, demonstrates which doors are open (available) and closed (not available) in times of change.The model allows you and your team to categorise and understand the effects of a change, big or small, in your workplace. Whether it’s a change in people, process, location or resources, you can use this information to help your team understand what will change and what will stay the same.The first door: Things that you did before, and will continue to do now This door is an open door; it signifies everything you do now and will continue to do in the future. This is a particularly important door to talk about with your team if they are apprehensive about a change, or if there is a very significant change coming. It gives them and you stability and certainty that there will be some familiarity.The second door: Things that you didn’t do before, and won’t do now This is a door that was closed before and will remain closed. It remains consistent; this door focuses on things you didn’t need to do or think about before, and will continue to not think about or do in the future. Often, change will bring new tasks and challenges, which is exciting; but it can also represent more work and cause you or your team to feel a bit nervous about trying new things. Knowing that there are unfamiliar tasks that you won’t have to handle can be reassuring as you lean into to a new way of doing things.The third door: Things that you did before, and won’t do now This door is a closed door, that used to be open. Tasks that used to be manual might now be automated; and your team may feel unsure about whether this will be a success, and how it will affect their activity on a day to day basis. Something as simple as a change in office location meaning you or your team will no longer visit your favourite coffee shop is a closed door.  Helping your team focus on letting go of these things, and replacing them with new routines, processes or activities will allow them to accept that these activities are no longer neededThe fourth door: Things you didn’t do before, and will do now This door used to be closed and is now open. It has all the new things you will be taking on, to replace the things you have let go of. This door represents an opportunity for learning and growth, both for individuals and the organisation. These are new skills and processes that will allow you to develop your role, try new things and hopefully, see better outcomes as a result of your hard work in embracing these changes.Putting it into practiceAs a leader of an organisation or a team, it is important that you look at this model of change from different perspectives; your own perspective first, and then the perspective of the people you lead. Each of these doors will look different for every individual in your team, regardless of whether you are all experiencing the same change, or different changes.Understanding what the change will look like for you, and working through any nervousness you have, will help you better support your team and your organisation more broadly.Some useful questions to ask yourself are:What changes am I looking forward to? Why are these changes exciting for me? What changes am I apprehensive about? What do I need to feel better about these? What can I rely on to stay the same?  Once you have worked through these, ask your team the same questions. It will allow you to have an open and honest dialogue with them, understand how they are feeling, and create a space where they feel listened to and supported.Are you dealing with any change at work at the moment? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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