Frances Valintine – winner of Blake Leader Award 2016 for outstanding leadership

Chair and founder of The Mind Lab, founder of Tech Futures Lab and Global Women member, Frances Valintine, has been awarded a Blake Leader award for outstanding leadership. She was recognised for her drive to transform education from the inside out, through delivering innovative learning programmes, aimed at preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s digital world.

Frances, who admits she’s still feeling overwhelmed by the acknowledgement last Friday evening, says being surrounded by an amazing team makes her role as a leader an easy one. “Whether it’s good luck or good planning throughout my life, I’ve managed to find truly stellar people to surround myself with,’ she says. “With a great team anything is possible.”

She says her greatest success is watching those who have worked for her thrive and succeed in their own careers, firmly believing that great leaders should enable those around them to fly. Her extremely hardworking parents, who had a lot to prove with three young children and a farm in Hawera to run, were the ones who taught her to fly, instilling in her the belief and capacity to lead. Growing up in a rural environment she was also surrounded by many very capable and practical women who taught her it’s best to tackle the hardest issues first and remain positive whatever the weather, advice she still lives by.

She believes the role of leaders has changed significantly in recent times, with today’s leaders much more willing to accept that others around them are smarter, more skilled or more talented than they are, and more willing to give these members of their team a step up to reach their full potential. “The days of leading by fear or by rules have long gone,” she says. “The next generation will expect greater equality, and a higher level of corporate social responsibility.”

She herself favours a flat leadership structure, with full transparency and trust, and endeavours to always remain open and approachable to her team. She believes good leaders should be interested in their team, good listeners, and generous with their time when advice is sought.

She confesses she loves every minute of her day, surrounded by amazing people, and she gets the sense her team believe in her, as she does in them. “Ultimately I’m a great believer in people,’ she says. “And their endless capacity to be generous of heart, thoughtful and committed.”

Sir Peter Blake Leadership Week runs from 1 July to 8 July, with over 1,000 leadership events happening around the country. The week finishes with Red Socks Day on Friday 8 July. Shelley Campbell, CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust and Breakthrough Leaders Alumni says, “Sir Peter Blake left a legacy of making us believe that we could achieve the impossible. All the people recognised in the Blake Leader Awards have shown a commitment to leading a team, have dreamt big and have demonstrated their passion for New Zealand.”