Census results guide network's direction

The Foundation's director leadership and entrepreneurship Adam McConnochie takes a look at the latest Leadership Network census and considers how it might inform the future direction of the network.

Early this year we undertook a census of the Leadership Network. It was an important census for two reasons – one, our last census was in 2017, and two, because it was the first census following last year’s graduations.

We are increasingly using the census data not only to understand the network but to drive decisions around its ideal shape, size and future direction.

In coming months, we will work with the Leadership Network Advisory Board to address the survey’s findings but, given you collectively gave up your time to share this info, I wanted to share the results with you. Ninety-two percent of you completed the census and this makes the results really worthwhile, so thank you for that.

We're older than expected

The biggest surprise for me was the age of the network. Graduating members when they turn 40 did bring the collective age of the network down, but I was surprised that more than half of the network is over 30.

An inforgraphic showing the age distribution of network members and levels of study

The number of network members over the age of 30 came as a surprise

When we look at the various activities we offer – such as leadership events, taking groups to Asia, meetups in Auckland – and because of who usually wants to attend these events, we target them towards the under 30s.  

Generally speaking, it’s this group that we can best help equip to thrive in Asia. However, given our demographics don’t match, we will need to tailor more activities to be more appealing to those over 30 and/or tweak when we bring people into the network and when they graduate. The data from the census will help us with these decisions.

The infographic above also show that the network has a disproportionately high number of members who have done postgraduate study.

Who and where are we?

Another area we would like to work on is offshore engagement, and potentially recruitment. The survey found only 12 percent of our members are based in Asia, down somewhat from 2012 when 25 percent were Asia based.

An infographic showing where in the world Leadership Network members are based

Fewer network members live overseas than did in 2012

We also need to keep increasing our geographic diversity within New Zealand as well as our ethnic diversity. Most of our members are based in Auckland and Wellington. 15 percent of the network identifies as either Māori or as a Pacific Person.

We want to have more members outside Wellington and Auckland and we want to break down any barriers that are stopping Māori and Pacific People applying to join the network. The reason for this is simple – great leaders come from all backgrounds and we want to have New Zealand’s best leaders in the network. Last year we held outreach workshops in Dunedin and Christchurch and are looking at doing the same this year in Tauranga, Hamilton and Christchurch.

Last year we also worked with Tupa Toa to hold outreach events for their networks in Wellington and Auckland. Our approach has been to take the time to build connections and networks, listen and learn and get out and meet people kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face). It’s not an overnight job, but it feels like the right approach.

An infographic showing the ethnic makeup of the Leadership Network

Adam: "...great leaders come from all backgrounds and we want to have New Zealand’s best leaders in the network."

What do we do for work?

The other standout stat for me was the number of public servants. As someone who sees the public sector as a great way to effect change – something I have in common with many of you – this wasn’t entirely surprising. But, one in four is quite high and is a signal for us to keep casting our net wide and involving and including all sectors when we recruit. For example, this year we welcomed three leaders from the sports sector, almost entirely down to the Foundation’s nascent sports programme.

An infographic showing the various sectors Leadership Network members work in

The network has a disproportionate number of members working in the public sector

How engaged are our members?

Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported that they are taking advantage of the opportunities that the network provides – a three percent increase from the previous census. In the last 12 months:

  • nearly half have attended at least one of the Foundation’s Asia After Five events
  • more than 15 percent of members have gone offshore with the Foundation
  • just over one quarter of the network have spoken or facilitated at a Foundation event
  • nearly two thirds have attended at least one network event.

 Overall, the census shows some positive signs of growth and development for the network, as well as areas to work on.