Participant experience | Craig Hudson

Leadership Mindset Programme Creates a Pendulum Swing

craig hudson profile photoA former professional rugby player who took part in the Leadership Mindset Programme began identifying changes in his leadership during the early stages of the course. Craig Hudson, now Commercial Manager at McFall Fuel in Tauranga, says his colleagues were quick to recognise and comment on his development. “All of my team have identified that there’s been a pendulum swing in the right direction.”

The Leadership Mindset Programme, established in 2004, is designed to develop participants’ leadership capacity and ensure they can respond quickly and effectively to today’s complex business environment. The series of two-day workshops held over a three-month period involves leading edge thinking and research on leadership, interactive sessions with guest contributors, and activities to embed new concepts in the context of participant’s organisation.

Craig began searching for a programme to further challenge his thinking after he completed an Outward Bound course in 2012. Despite having no tertiary qualifications, he sought something more than the traditional university path that would enable him to build his leadership capacity. A friend had completed the Leadership Mindset Programme a year earlier, and strongly encouraged him to take part.

“I wanted to rub shoulders with others who were thinking along the same lines, and this was the perfect course for me,” Craig said. “It exceeded all my expectations.”

The 35-year-old father-of-four spent more than eight years playing professional rugby in New Zealand, France, England and Wales before returning home to Tauranga and joining McFall Fuel in 2007. His role covers the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Auckland, New Plymouth and everywhere in between, and he has nine direct reports.

Craig identified strongly with other participants on the programme he undertook in 2013, finding they all faced similar organisational challenges. He admits to being an impatient leader in the past, wanting to implement ideas immediately, but has instead learned to give colleagues “gentle prods” and allow time for a situation to evolve.

“My idea of leadership was drawn from sporting sense, where there is always a guy out in front, pulling people through and pulling them up at the same time. But I now realised you can be more influential in different ways in your leadership. “For me it was about learning to take a breath and just take a step back.”

Craig says he is confident enough to know that he doesn’t always have to have the answers. Where previously he would have considered this “fumbling in the dark”, he is now content to simply start a discussion and act on feedback.

And it is not only Craig’s colleagues who have noticed his development – his wife has welcomed changes at home, and Craig says his interaction with his children, aged between 21 months and seven years, is more positive and effective. “There had to be a certain amount of sacrifice from family so I could take part in the programme, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Craig is considering taking up the challenge of an MBA, however with a young family it might be some time before he can make such a big commitment. In the meantime, he wants to keep his newfound momentum for education going.

“This has really sparked my desire for more learning. I’m excited about it, probably for the first time in my life.”