23 Mar, 2022 - 4 min read
Building leadership skills that support thriving businesses and communities
Being a business owner doesn’t always mean you’re a born manager or leader. With 99% of businesses in Aotearoa New Zealand small or medium sized, there’s more of us in this space than not. Businesses often grow from the founder having innate skills, talents or a passion for something - not because of a desire to lead or manage people.
So taking time to check in and refine your leadership skills is never a waste of your time. In fact, in some cases it can completely shift the way you see your business and its place within the wider community. This is exactly what happened for Eddie Hoskin, graduate of the Organisational Agility micro-credential.
“I thought I’d learn about small improvements I could make within my organisation. But it’s actually changed the whole way I look at business and the way I look at my responsibilities within my community. I saw my businesses as unrelated to everything else. Now I understand that my businesses are part of a community, and the choices I make in my business impact more than just me and my staff.”
Learning you can use, now
A business owner, entrepreneur and serial learner, Eddie found her way into Tech Futures Lab through the Organisational Agility micro-credential. Now she’s building her way to a Master of Technological Futures, after also completing another Tech Futures Lab micro-credential in Disruptive Technologies.
Eddie was drawn to the Organisational Agility programme purely by curiosity. “I had no idea what Organisational Agility could mean but I thought the concept fascinating. It covered things I had never thought about before”. That was enough for Eddie to jump in.
Having studied towards a Diploma in Business and Management, Eddie expected that her learning at Tech Futures Lab would also be in a traditional learning format. But this was the first thing that surprised her.
“I was able to focus more on how I could express what I was learning and how I could show the way I was applying it in my organisation.”
Learning while running three businesses was a juggle, but as her learning progressed, Eddie found she was able to apply new leadership strategies and frameworks in her day to day. She cites one experience where, after learning about the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace, Eddie was able to genuinely discuss with her staff how well this was being done in their own workplace environment, and how to further develop it. “I got to bring my staff along with me.”
It's better together
Upskilling and gaining new knowledge is more accessible today than it’s ever been. With online learning and massive online open courses (MOOCs), you can pick up new skills anytime you want. But sharing the learning journey with others is still critical to the overall experience and that’s something that Tech Futures Lab recognises.
“There was so much personal growth among the students, which doesn’t really happen in a typical course. We were learning how to increase organisational agility but a lot of us also had really profound learnings about ourselves and about the way we work and even what we want out of life. It was amazing seeing the clear directions coming out for some who realised ‘I’m in the wrong place’, or ‘I actually want to focus on this’, or ‘I’ve realised this is my new goal’. I’m always interested to learn more but nothing really compares to learning as a cohort and the support and discussion that comes from it.”
Leading in complex environments
Building a business in today’s complex and fast changing environment needs leaders who are capable of flexing and shifting with it in order to remain viable. But those leaders also need to balance these hard demands with the softer skills, fostering an environment that prioritises wellbeing, strong healthy teamships and mindsets that welcome and participate in growth and innovation.
Not everyone has the tools to navigate these rapids and it can take stepping outside of your day to day to tilt perspective and see things from a new angle. From Eddie’s view, the programme has given her tools that she believes everyone should have. “I think a lot of workplace disagreement and tensions could be eased, if not solved, by people having access to the tools we learned in Organisational Agility. You can feel stuck sometimes until you’re able to look at them in a different way and apply some of these new strategies”
Strong foundations to build resilient futures
Now as Eddie embarks on her Master of Technological Futures journey, she’s finding the knowledge and tools gained through the Organisational Agility and Disruptive Technologies micro-credentials fabulous foundations for both her next stage in learning and her strategic business planning.
“They’re different tools in my toolbox and being able to combine them with the different knowledge sets is really helping me to create actionable changes to my business. It’s made me keen to try and to fail fast, rather than avoid trying so I never fail. It’s increased my risk tolerance.”
Eddie Hoskin is the owner of three small businesses based in Ohakune: a design and gift shop operating under StrangeDog and an IT development and support consultancy called LightingTech. Eddie completed two micro-credentials with Tech Futures Lab; Organisational Agility and Disruptive Technologies and is now working on her Master of Technological Futures. Eddie was able to use the learning she gained in those two micro-credentials as foundations for her Master's plus the credits she gained in the Disruptive Technologies micro-credential were able to be transferred towards her Master's study.