Leading with grace

Working towards a stronger and better future

As we navigate a world forever changed by the events of the past few years, it is more important than ever that we are guided by people with the personal and professional skills to do so.

Last week I had the honour of attending the graduation of the second cohort of professionals in our community who have completed the JCA Frank Wolf Executive Leadership Development Program.

Frank was a humble man dedicated to and passionate about our local Jewish community. Frank’s communal career was long and diverse. In addition to being the president of North Shore Temple Emanuel, he was integral to JCA, being involved with and then chairing committees from allocations, to building and capital and communal planning. His passing in 2018 was a loss beyond words not only for his family and friends, but for our community.

Thinking of an appropriate way to honour the memory of a man who was so loved and respected, his family and professional colleagues from within the property industry established the JCA Frank Wolf Leadership Development Fund.

In our community we talk a lot about leadership. This leadership is more often than not referring to the people that give of their time and skill in volunteer lay leadership positions. However, this program gives us an opportunity to develop the professionals that work and guide our communal organisations on a day to day basis. This means that there now is a platform where they can build their own leadership capacity while also finding a place to network amongst their peers, thus developing the leadership pool for our local Jewish community. Understanding this concept is pivotal to giving the right people this opportunity to develop in their leadership journeys.

In a recent video filmed to show participants of the program who had never known or met Frank, Greg Shand – a friend of Frank’s – said that we need more than bricks and mortar to run a community, you need to invest in quality human capital. Investing in human capital requires giving people the relevant skills, education and training coupled with the confidence to achieve their organisational goals.

In my personal journey as a leader in our community, it was people like Frank that I looked up to, who coupled vision with strategic planning and rational thinking. What I remember most was our regular discussions in our cars heading to or from our respective homes debating and strategising as to what the community needed to do to ensure its continuity and its relevance into the future.

Living in a changing world, leadership styles have also shifted. Frank was ahead of his time. With authentic and genuine leadership undertaken with gentleness and giving everyone a voice, he was the kind of leader people wanted to emulate. He was a role model for many.

As we navigate a world forever changed by the events of the past few years, it is more important than ever that we are guided by people with the personal and professional skills to do so.

The communal landscape is shifting too – how we engage and connect will determine our success as a community and our future. Only by ensuring that we have a bank of people who have been properly trained can we hope that we will be in safe hands.

I think Frank would have been very proud of what we have created here. Led by an outstanding facilitator – Dr Ali Walker from UNSW’s Graduate School of Management, the program will have impact for years to come. Included in the course are modules on leader identity and self-leadership, personal leadership signature; leadership models; leadership in action, creating a leadership strategy and the future of not for profit leadership that will identify the individual challenges that will be faced by the participants.

It really is a comprehensive deep dive into exploring and growing leadership capability in our community. Ali said in the aforementioned video that leadership training is akin to climbing a mountain and she feels like a Sherpa, guiding and navigating with participants to successfully summit that mountain.

The third cohort of Frank Wolf participants have just commenced their journey, comprising another outstanding group of individuals who have already shown their passion and commitment not only to their organisations but also to our diverse community.

It is my wish that they gain as much as they can from the program both personally and professionally, and bring that wisdom and knowledge back into their cohort, investing in themselves as well as others, as we all work towards a stronger and better future.

A future that Frank would have wanted for us.

Ian Sandler is the president of JCA.

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