Inspiration and energy overflowed at the recent Rockhampton Ignite and Unite: CSIA Women’s Business Breakfast. CQUniversity Professor Leone Hinton joined forces with CSIA CEO Belinda Drew to challenge community service organisations to do things differently; be brave and bold in collaboration.

In setting the stage for Professor Hinton, Belinda Drew spoke to the crowd about the critical nature of collaboration in creating a future for community services.

She said: “This means we need shared relationships built on trust, shared decision-making, and pooled resources”.

It was the perfect introduction for Professor Hinton to talk about bold and brave networking and collaborating in the place you’re in.

Ready, Go, Set

“I like to say ‘ready, go, set’,” declared Professor Hinton.

“Because if it is ‘ready, set, go’ it may never happen!

“You need to dive in and do it. Learn as you go.”

There is no beginning and there is no end. Just start… deep breath
Professor Leone Hinton

The kindling

Professor Hinton’s presentation on creating strategic networks and collaborations drew quite a clever metaphor with the creation of fire.

She says: “you need to start with the kindling”.

The kindling – in a network or collaboration – being you and your content area.

Igniting the fire

“The key to lighting the fire is to first and foremost know yourself and your topic area, and feel good about it,” says Professor Hinton.

In order to get that fire going, she says you have to develop active interpersonal skills – especially active listening and mindfulness – and avoid multi-tasking activities like checking your phone while you’re with your collaborators.

And to ignite that kindling and create that fire, Professor Hinton puts a very strong emphasis on going into networks and collaborations for mutual benefit and reciprocity.

“In my experience, the NGO leaders – and sometimes the business leaders – are the ones that actually arrive to take the initiative. Government can actually play a kind of supporting and guiding role to support and create the infrastructure to sustain the effort,” Hinton says.

She says that when it comes to co-design, it’s about the artistry, the individual and the willingness for groups to take chances, take risks and to open up to really work together with frequently the most unlikely allies for tackling big issues.

“I’m impressed by the whole power of place and purpose in leadership and I’m encouraging people to move away from the whole personality, impositional obsession around leadership,”

“It starts where you are. One of the key acts of leadership is actually to define what is important as far as place and purpose is concerned,” she declares.

“Planning in terms of defining your brand and your message is also important.

“You need to have your 30-second elevator pitch ready, as well as a longer 3-minute presentation. It needs to be enthusiastic and passionate.

“And importantly, you need to create a space for collaboration and put it into place.”

The power of place

Professor Hinton says the power of place is an important anchoring idea around leadership initiatives/networks/collaborations for tackling problems at the coal face.

“Smart local connections can empower the region and it is incredibly powerful to be self-determining,” she says.

“You need to know your region and understand what is out there to be able to work out who to connect with, identify the opportunities and the right timing.

“What type of connections could harness the power of the local area and work towards addressing complex social issues?” asks Professor Hinton.

“It could be community service organisations connecting with the private sector such as retail and technology, it could be connecting with academia, or connecting better within the Industry itself,” she says.

Let’s take a look at social enterprise.

“Social enterprise has an obvious commitment to social change and social betterment but there is an importance of being able to draw on – and connect with – very different sectors including the private, the public and the not-for-profit,” Hinton says.

“What makes these connections even more powerful and timely is that social enterprise has moved from being a fringe movement to more of a mainstream movement.

“The leadership challenges were always difficult but they’ve become that much more complex.

“The need to create a cross-sectoral context for social enterprise has really lifted the governance leadership challenges,” she says.

The wrap up

Hinton says: “To me, it’s really getting a sense about the responsibility to ensure that the group has a clear sense of who it is, why it’s here and where it need to move.”

“We often get very trapped by our models of leadership.

“But start at a fairly small level, with something particularly significant for the place you’re in, build some confidence around that, start to build some governance arrangements to sustain your effort and really learn and appreciate what your partners bring to the table.”

Things to think about going into networks and collaborations:

  • Who are you?
  • Who do you represent?
  • Why would you do this?
  • What’s in it for you?
  • What’s in it for the work you do?
  • What’s in it for the people you represent?
  • How can you do it?
  • How hard is it to do this?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • When will you do this?
  • Where to from here?
  • Identify your strengths
  • Understand the mutual benefit
  • Be an active listener
  • Be present
  • Be mindful
  • Be content rich
  • Find your champions and deliver
  • Be brave
  • Be bold
  • Make magic and a difference
  • Work smart not hard
  • Bring people together

Place-based collaboration

Key takeaways

  • Be the change you want to see in the world
  • Coming together is a beginning
  • Keeping together is progress
  • Working together is success