This is the first in a series of questions with leaders who are making an impact. Peter Drucker once said that “the questions don’t change as often as the answers do”. So, we are going to be asking the same six questions of a number of leaders. The first in the series is Sina Wendt-Moore: public speaker, mentor, board-member and Chief Executive of Leadership New Zealand.
1. What has shaped your leadership the most?
“My childhood: living and growing up in Samoa through the 1960s and 1970s, in the heart of a huge family - the Wendt aiga. Leadership, service and commitment to family, community and country, spiritual wellbeing, and education as the path to success are all cornerstone values I saw in action - demonstrated and lived right across my family. I learnt that leadership may also mean putting yourself in a vulnerable position, by tackling the tough stuff; being the first one to do something.
I am also the eldest child of 3 in my immediate nuclear family, and I know this has definitely shaped my leadership. In Samoa, expectations of children are very much defined by age and gender, and first-born children I think end up with a particular set of life experiences that set them up to be the ‘first’ doing many things, and having to take responsibility for things in the family. That responsibility never ends.”
2. What are the 4 or 5 key principles that define your leadership and why are they important to you?
“In-built into my DNA is a very clear philosophy that whatever hat or role I have, my leadership is about service to others; to serve my family, my community, my country. Leadership is not a singular mission or individual endeavour for the sake of personal gain or glory.
At the centre of leadership is ultimately a care for the wellbeing and success of others, for the greater good, improving or bettering society, having a commitment to a higher purpose beyond self. Having clarity of one’s purpose in life, the kind of life we envision for ourselves, the contribution and legacy we want to leave is key to us leading well.
To serve others well, we must also know ourselves well. We must be self-intelligent leaders, empathetic leaders who communicate well, create and empower diverse high performing teams, who collaborate, think critically, respond to the changing dynamic, are adept at engaging stakeholders, and complex strategic thinking and execution. I have always considered myself a lifelong learner and worked to continually improve myself.”
3. Do you think these remain relevant for the future, given the rapid changes and disruptions that we continue to face?
“I think they are absolutely critical. With a macro, universal view – it is asking how must we awaken to the huge challenges in the future of human ‘work’? ... to the increasing complexity, volatility and uncertainty, to the impacts of increasing diversity in (society and) the workplace, technological advances - artificial intelligence, augmented realities and the moral and ethical dilemmas these innovations give rise to, environmental crises on a global scale that threaten our very existence, to the chaos that undermines organisations, companies, communities.”
4. Which of the many global trends, interest and concern you the most and why?
“The future of work in our technological age is totally fascinating to me. A generally optimistic person, I feel mostly hopeful for our human species, and am especially interested in how we retain our essence, our soul, our spirit as we evolve and techonology becomes integrated into every facet of life, and how do we use this new technology to keep our planet alive. I think it’s an important conversation we must have as leaders if we have any hope of influencing what this future looks like.”
5. How do you keep focused on what is critical for success as things change/are disrupted around you?
“Interesting question. One thing I do know about myself, is that I am attracted to change and disruption. I am motivated by opportunities to create, influence, shape a project, fix or change a situation, or organisation, and also to learn new things.
The questions I regularly ask myself these days to stay focused are ‘what contribution am I making?’ ‘What value am I adding?’ ‘Is my input in this ‘activity/project’ still useful?’ I’m less hung up about needing to ‘prove myself’ to others.”
6. If there is one piece of advice you would give yourself at the beginning of your leadership career, what would it be?
“I would tell myself to stop, think, and focus – identify what is really important to you in life, what are your personal goals? What do you want to achieve and why? You have one life – feel the fear and do it anyway!
Today, I mentor and work with many 20 & 30-something year olds. My advice to them is mostly about how to navigate the inter-generational relationships in organisations, and across sectors, communities – how they can learn to understand and work more effectively with the Baby Boomers and GenXers. There is still much work to be done to create environments of trust and mutual understanding and respect, but the young GenXers (e.g. Jacinda and co) and the Millenial generation are naturally bringing a mindset of the inclusive leadership described above in question 2 that this world needs.”
Sina Wendt-Moore Chief Executive, Leadership New Zealand. A Pacific woman of Samoan, German and English heritage, Sina has lived and worked in Aotearoa for the past 30 years. She is committed to helping grow a generation of authentic and ethical leaders for 21st century leadership, and works to develop leadership, governance and the strategic capability of organisations and communities. Her leadership and governance experience spans 25 years, across commercial, public and social-profit sector.
Sina has a Bachelor’s Degree (Sociology, Political Science) from Victoria University. She is an Alumnus of Leadership NZ’s 2008 New Zealand Leadership Programme, and Global Women NZ’s inaugural Breakthrough Women in Leadership programme (2010), and in 2014 she participated in CSCLeaders – a global leadership development programme that brought 100 Commonwealth leaders together to collaborate on a strategic challenge for the planet.
Through Leadership New Zealand, her mentoring, public speaking, consulting work, and numerous board roles (which have included Pacific Music Awards Trust, AUT Business Industry Advisory Board, PACIFICA Auckland, YWCA AotearoaNZ, and appointbetterboards), Sina influences and empowers a diverse range of leaders across society.
Sina can be contacted at email@example.com