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Water Leadership Program participants complete their 'Follow-up Training' in Brisbane

Participants from the 2016/17 IWC Water Leadership Program recently met in Brisbane for the July Follow-up Training session, the final in-person training session for the program.
Water Leadership Program participants complete their 'Follow-up Training' in Brisbane

2016/17 WLP participants during the face-to-face workshop in Brisbane

24 Australian water professionals joined the International WaterCentre and IWC Leadership Specialist Dr André Taylor for the final face-to-face training session as part of the 2016/17 round of the award winning IWC Water Leadership Program. The two days of training included a series of specialist workshops, follow-up feedback from colleagues, reflection activities, participant presentations, a guest speaker and group mentoring.

Learning and reflection topics included:

  • Techniques to manage stress as part of self-leadership
  • Using 16 leadership tools learnt in the program to address leadership challenges in the water sector
  • Key communication skills for leaders and managers, with a focus on conflict management
  • An introduction to ethical and authentic leadership

Participants were also given time to present on the leadership lessons they have learnt during the program, the focus of their leadership development activities moving forward, and time to reflect on the leadership strategies they had adopted, what had worked and what had not.

The two-day workshop follows eight months of face-to-face and distance learning components of the IWC Water Leadership Program and is the final opportunity for the cohort to meet in person prior to successfully completing the Program.  Earlier elements of the program included 360-degree feedback, an initial five days of intensive leadership training and group mentoring, local one-to-one mentoring discussions, two one-to-one coaching sessions with an IWC leadership coach, the use of leadership projects, the development of personalised leadership development plans, and monthly online discussion activities.

Follow-up feedback

Researchers have found that the ability of participants in leadership development programs to get follow-up feedback from their colleagues as they practice new approaches is critical to leadership growth and return on investment. According to Dr Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan (2004, p. 36), “Time and again, one variable emerged as central to the achievement of positive long-term change: the participants’ ongoing interaction and follow-up with colleagues. Leaders who discussed their improvement priorities with their co-workers, and then regularly followed up with these co-workers, showed striking improvement.”

In the IWC Water Leadership Program, this process is encouraged by running anonymous, tailored, follow-up surveys of the participants’ colleagues in June to get feedback on: specific leadership behaviours that each participant is working on (these are unique to each participant, so each survey is unique); general aspects of leadership that are working well and should continue; and some aspects of leadership that should be the focus of future developmental activities. During the July training, participants used this follow-up feedback to help them refocus their individual leadership development plans for the 12 months following the program.

Data from the 27 follow-up surveys from this round of the program show that, on average, participant colleagues are reporting that they are noticing better than ‘moderate’ levels of positive behavioural change from participants after four months. The program coordinator, Dr André Taylor suggests that “This is a very positive result. It gives us a high degree of confidence that colleagues who are working closely with our participants are noticing positive change that relates directly to the leadership behaviours that each participant is trying to improve.  All of our participants are to be congratulated for this result, as changing our behaviour is not easy.”

2016/17 program

Participants for this round of the nine-month program running from December 2016 until August 2017 are experienced water professionals from a wide range of local and state governments, utilities and consulting firms. The program has attracted repeat participation from Unity Water, Western Australia’s Department of Water, Hunter Water, Wannon Water, and Melbourne Water.

To complete the program in August participants will undertake a final one-to-one coaching session, participate in the fifth monthly online discussion activity, and complete a final reflection report.

More information

Designed for emerging water leaders at the project to middle management level, IWC's Water Leadership Program is customised for the water sector through sound research and collaboration with experienced industry practitioners. The program focuses on helping leaders to build the leadership abilities (e.g. skills, knowledge and networks), to initiate and drive change, influence across organisational boundaries, address complex water management challenges, and advance integrated water management.

Learn more:

Reference: Goldsmith, M., & Morgan, H. (2004). Leadership is a contact sport: The ‘follow-up factor’ in management development. Strategy + Business, 36, 71-79.


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