October 19, 2018

A Division in Search of Accountable, Motivated, and Productive Leaders

More than 50 Adventist Church leaders from across the South Pacific recently met to discuss a leadership development strategy for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific Division (SPD) church region.

Held on September 11, 2018 at the SPD offices in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia, the meeting was attended by leaders from institutions in the region, 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. Organizers reported that the meeting 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.”

Attendees were presented with 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 the survey results, several key areas of focus were identified, including building a system to identify and develop future leaders, “effective mentoring,” and 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 systematic support around numerous people-management functions. 

Leaders then gathered into their various entities to conduct analysis and discuss key questions about what effective leadership looks like.

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

“We 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 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, 2018 and run for 12 months. All leaders in SPD entities will be able to attend the workshops either in person or through live streaming, with video recordings especially available for Pacific Island leaders who work in remote areas. Topics to be covered in the workshops will address key focus areas, including communication in leadership, managing growth opportunities, and developing an effective mentoring culture.

Organizers reported that November’s workshop will discuss how to identify and develop 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,” Banks said. “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.”

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