Saturday, March 01, 2008

PMI Asia Pac Leadership - Sydney, Australia 2008

We’re one day into PMI’s 2008 Asia Pacific Leadership Meeting and things are off to a great start. The meeting kicked off with an amazingly heartfelt talk given by Peter Bains talk called Leadership Matters. Bains works for the Sydney Police as a forensic specialist dealing in large-scale disasters and terrorist attacks. The talk centered on Bain’s involvement in the response to the Boxing Day Tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004. The talk was very moving and most of the audience was on the brink of tears as Bains described the challenges he and his team faced in doing DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) in the weeks after the attack. From a leadership standpoint, there were two things Bains brought up that were particularly poignant. The first was that he divided anyone’s involvement in a project into four stages. The first is the frenetic, adrenaline stage when people are highly motivated, just trying to figure out what is going on. They don’t need much to keep them going then because they have a lot of enthusiasm. The second stage has them move into a business as usual mindset. They’ve learned how things work, they aren’t the new guy anymore and they know their job. The third stage is where Bain’s focused. In the third stage, the energy level drops. The motivation is gone, routine has set in and there is a breakdown of enthusiasm. This, Bain’s argued, is where leadership is most critical. You need to keep people energized, focused and make sure, above all, that they have a clarity of purpose that is completely ingrained in their minds and hearts. This needs to continue through the fourth stage, exit, when everyone is just looking for a way out. Bains contended that real leadership is able to keep a team motivated beyond the sexy part, all the way through the day-to-day drudgery until you cross the finish line. He challenged all of us to make sure we had clarity of purpose that truly identified why we do what we do.

As they day moved on, the topics covered included an update on the state of al things IT at PMI, the status of things in the AP region itself and finally breakout sessions for the components. Things were run a bit differently than in meetings past and the exercises that the SIG’s and non AP Chapters went through allowed us a great opportunity to share information on topics like member retention, volunteer sourcing, finding new leaders for your organization, etc. It was a bit less volatile than what usually takes place back in the states, but it was very valuable.

After the day’s events there was a small networking reception and then most folks headed over to watch the Mardi Gras parade. Sydney’s annual Gay Pride Mardi Gras Parade is second in size and scope only to its New Year’s Eve celebration. The streets and parks were packed to the gills with folks either celebrating their lifestyle or just taking it all in. Sydney is known as one of the most accepting cities on the planet for those who live a gay/lesbian lifestyle and regardless of where you stand on the issue, it is a very amazing site and quite characteristic of the welcoming, laid back style of the Sydneysiders.
Today is day 2 of Leadership - more to follow.
Just one last interesting fact...

The hopping marsupial with a pouch that we all know and love as the kangaroo was named when the first English settlers in Australia asked the aborigines what that the name of the hopping animal was. The aborigines, not speaking English, kept responding with the phrase, which phonetically spells kangaroo. It actually means, “What do you mean?”

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