New strategies to develop leaders across South Pacific

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SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend speaks to leaders.

More than 50 Adventist Church leaders from across the South Pacific recently met to discuss and progress a leadership development strategy for the Adventist Church in the South Pacific (SPD).

Held on September 11 at the SPD offices, leaders from entities including Avondale College of Higher Education, Papua New Guinea’s Pacific Adventist University, Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing, and the Adventist Church in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Trans-Pacific were represented. The day was an integral step in creating systems across the church workforce that support, develop and challenge leaders to achieve the Adventist Church vision and mission.

“It’s critical to ensure the church remains relevant in society by ensuring our leaders have the competence, knowledge, experience and agility to lead across changing and diverse environments,” said SPD Leadership and Personal Development manager Dean Banks. “We have to ensure we also focus on identifying a large group of future leaders that are equipped to lead as positions become vacant—there needs to be intentionality and clear processes and strategy to achieve this.” 

"We really need to articulate what outstanding leadership looks like for the Seventh-day Adventist Church."

Attendees were presented the results of a survey completed by more than 200 leaders across the SPD, which looked at current support systems in place for development. From this, a number of key focus areas were identified, including building a system to identify and develop future leaders, “effective mentoring” and the importance of having regular conversations with staff about their plans and development needs. The survey showed leaders are confident in promoting the mission and vision of the Church, but require more systemic support around numerous people management functions. Leaders then congregated into their various entities to do a SWOT analysis and discuss key questions about what effective leadership looks like.

“It was extremely valuable, particularly spending time with our board chairman, [SPD president] Pastor Glenn Townend and working through our leadership strategy,” said Dr Jeanette Conley, Adventist HealthCare Medical and Clinical Governance executive. “Hearing from other groups about overall challenges and opportunities was also very insightful.”

“We really need to articulate what outstanding leadership looks like for the Seventh-day Adventist Church—how our leaders need to be thinking, behaving and leading by example,” said SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend. “A leadership advisory group is now being established to progress the strategy by creating a success blueprint for leaders to be formally assessed against.”

The SPD is also launching a monthly professional leadership development series, which will start on November 1 and run for 12 months. All leaders across SPD entities will be able to access the workshops either face to face, or through live streaming, with video recordings especially available for Pacific Island leaders who live and work in remote areas. Topics to be covered in these workshops will address key focus areas, including communication in leadership, managing growth opportunities, and developing an effective mentoring culture. November’s workshop will address the topic of identifying and developing future leaders for the Adventist Church, and will be delivered by Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing People and Culture general manager Peter Hartnett.

“We understand our leaders are time poor with significant responsibilities,” said Mr Banks. “But our message to them is that if they are prepared to learn, we will provide the opportunities. It’s part of valuing and empowering our staff so they are accountable, motivated, and productive.”