Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NZDF leadership programme washes ashore in Tongan-first

Six members of Tonga’s His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) have spent time in New Zealand taking part in a six-week Pacific Leadership Development Programme workshop that will help them deliver the HMAF’s first Lead Teams Leadership course in Tonga this week.

Accompanied by their Kiwi Training Advisor/Leadership Mentor, New Zealand Army Captain Geoff Bright, the group completed two weeks of the course development workshop online while in managed isolation, before moving to Trentham Military Camp. They have since returned to Tonga.

The Lead Teams course is aimed at personnel who are managing other people, and Pacific Leader Development Programme Principal Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon Milward, from the New Zealand Army, said it was an important course to help leaders understand their impact on their staff.

It was crucial to have effective and trust-based leadership, he said.

“While command and management are important, they are about individuals using authority to require others to carry out tasks.”

“Leadership is about building trust-based relationships and influencing others to want to carry out tasks.

“A team inspired to want to carry out a task will usually outperform a team that is compelled to have to carry out a task. The need for, and effectiveness of, trust-based leadership seems to transcend cultural and organisational differences, especially in our region.”

Lieutenant Tala Mafileo, of the Tongan Navy, said there was not a lot of difference between the New Zealand and Tongan Lead Teams courses.

“We’ve tweaked it to fit the Tongan culture.  We’ve changed some small things, some acronyms and words. Our university leadership training is academic, whereas this framework is more practical.  It’s the actual application of leadership rather than the theory of it,” he said.

“We’re learning to be more open. Tongans are good at hiding their feelings, but the environment set by the instructors here means everyone is involved and we are open about things not normally shared.”

Warrant Officer Second Class, Sili Fafita has been involved in the development process from the beginning, when the first HMAF Leadership courses were developed and is now a facilitator.

Well trained leaders can make a difference, he said.

“After we completed the first HMAF Lead Self course, with 61 students from government agencies, I could see the difference with the leaders using their skills.”

“You could see the open sharing of ideas, and the discussion in groups. When you are a leader you care for people, you treat them like family.”

The pair are excited about bringing the next course to Tonga at the end of August, which is already fully subscribed.

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