Setting SAIL at Lake Macquarie

Article image - Setting SAIL at Lake Macquarie SAIL participant Bryce Faulkner takes part in a performance management role play with Capital Works Program Manager Simon Collins, assessed by Council and Corporate Liaison Coordinator Jenni Donaldson

Lake Macquarie City Council, New South Wales, has launched a new-look leadership program aimed at fostering future leaders. 

The emerging leaders program known as SAIL (straight ahead into leadership) builds on one of Council’s existing development initiatives, the Lake Mac Challenge, by introducing a six-month program of customisable professional development training, culminating in the Challenge. 

Council’s Director Organisational Services, Laura Kendall said the program had been redesigned based on feedback from past Challenge alumni. 

“The Lake Mac Challenge gives future leaders the opportunity to test their skills and collaborate with peers, with the winners going on to represent Council in the Australasian Management Challenge. 

“However, some staff felt they lacked skills coming into the Challenge, which is why we redesigned the program to introduce a line-up of professional development training, which participants can customise to complement their leadership ambitions and address any skills gaps.” 

Interested staff were prompted to self-nominate for the program in early 2020, prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19, and organisers worked hard to adapt the program to a COVIDsafe format, which included shifting in-person training to larger venues to accommodate social distancing and offering online participation via Microsoft Teams. 

With changes made, the program kicked off in June, with participants completing core and elective training modules, assessments, mentor check-ins with Council’s Executive team and Senior Leadership Network, and a pre-Challenge, before competing in the Lake Mac Challenge at the end of October. 

Media and Communications Advisor and program participant Alannah Totterdell said SAIL had transformed the way she thought about leadership.

“One of our values at Council is ‘Leading at all levels’. With the skills and knowledge I have gained over the past six months, I feel more confident and empowered to embrace this value and be a leader
to my peers.”