Photo credit: Stuff.co.nz
Ever wondered what shapes an impactful leader like Arihia Bennett? Servant Leadership is at the heart of our Member, Arihia Bennett’s approach to leading communities as the chief executive of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
In an inspiring and intimate interview with Stuff.co.nz, Arihia (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) talks to the power of leading with both the head and the heart, sharing insights on the power of upbringing, advice to her younger self, and of course, diversity.
“Leading from the front also means leading from behind.”
Among the pearls of wisdom, Arihia shares that “whānau ora,” a whānau come first mantra, is anchored into all of her roles. This spills across to her approach that “Leading from the front also means leading from behind,” and ensuring that “you have the right people around you” too, because “as a leader it’s your task to grow and develop those people.”
“Leading is also serving, so the servant leader philosophy easily resonates,” Arihia shares with Stuff.co.nz. “When I’m at home, I don’t have a big role. I’m just one of the whānau and we all have tasks to keep our home in good shape and I am no exception. I was brought up that way.”
“Worldly experience taught me about compassion and gratitude. It takes you out of your own bubble.”
Arihia also cites curiosity and learning from our surroundings as a powerful tool for growth. When asked for advice to her younger self, Arihia shares “I’d tell my younger self to lean in and listen to them all as much as possible, not to talk. Sometimes we are making up the answer in our heads before we have listened to kaupapa kōrero. I’d tell myself to stop, step back or pause, and query if the sentiment hasn’t been entirely captured, rather than swinging from the hip.
This advice around curiosity also involves broadening’s one’s horizons — citing it as another shaper of servant leadership. “Worldly experience taught me about compassion and gratitude. It takes you out of your own bubble. You gain an understanding of what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes, and always come from that place of gratitude and empathy.”
”Diversity is an easy, lazy way to categorise as opposed to broadening and accepting of difference…
As for diversity? Arihia shares that ”Diversity is an easy, lazy way to categorise as opposed to broadening and accepting of difference… This is not a new problem as global history tells us that the roots are based on fear, entitlement, power, and control. I am placing my hope in the hands of our younger generations.”
With the ideas of compassion and curiosity shared by Arihia as a way forward, it’s clear that these are the tools that can help uproot these blockers move the dial towards the world we’re striving towards.
Be inspired by Arihia’s full insights, musings and more in the original article on Stuff.co.nz.