Wayfinding Leadership: Groundbreaking Wisdom for Developing Leaders
By Dr Chellie Spiller, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, John Panoho
Published 2015, Huia Publishing, Wellington, New Zealand
What can be learned from the great wayfinding tradition of the Polynesian navigators to develop more effective leaders? This is a question that we have been exploring for many years and that this book addresses. Wayfinding provides a powerful metaphor for taking a fresh perspective on leadership in today’s turbulent times.
The Polynesian wayfinders are particularly worthy of study because they were and are master navigators. Without magnetic compasses, sextants or maps and well before Europeans had set out on journeys to navigate the world the Polynesian navigators found their way over 25 million square kilometres of oceans becoming the first people to inhabit Aotearoa New Zealand. Their feats have been likened to a modern-day equivalent of journeying to the moon.
Wayfinders go beyond the known, and journey on voyages of discovery to new horizons. Central to the wayfinding approach is seeing what is really going on - discerning the detail and seeing the whole. The wayfinder has a deep understanding of themselves, their crew, their waka and the environment. Drawing upon ancient wisdom, modern wayfinders hold insights that can make a big difference for leaders, their teams and organisations and for the future of society – for us all individually and collectively. That’s why we are passionate about studying and sharing their wisdom. This book is designed as a developmental leadership journey.
We believe that everybody can be a wayfinding leader. Through the book we guide you on a leadership development journey that requires stepping into the unknown, developing sharper powers of observation, being more comfortable with uncertainty and finding new and better ways to tackle situations, relying not only on rational thinking, but also on the broader sets of intelligence with which each of us is endowed.
To guide your journey we have used different parts of the waka as reference points. For example, we use the rudder or the hoe, to symbolise the journey of self-knowledge that starts with the question: ko wai au - who am I?
Running through the book is a case study of Johnnie Freeland, Paearahi Matua at Te Waka Angamua, Auckland City Council’s Maori Strategy and Relations unit. On the subject of self-knowledge Johnnie says that as a wayfinding leader “your ego has to be in your back pocket”.
Another feature of the book is a set of practices at the end of each chapter. These include questions for enquiry. For example, with the Hoe, we invite you to ask what aspects of yourself need addressing because they are blocking true connection and more effective relationships?
A wayfinder leader is motivated by curiosity and is steeped in wonder. Wayfinder leaders look to develop everyone’s potential and have an abiding belief that ‘we are in the waka together’.
The gift of the wayfinder’s journey is not arrival at a destination; it is who we become along the way as we fulfil our potential. This book is for the Wayfinder in all of us.
You can buy the book online at Huia Publishers
The University of Auckland bookshop has limited copies signed by all three authors, order online
E-book, kindle version available on Amazon