If you have ever wondered what it feels like to sit in a room full of motivated, influential, smart people, then the Future of Leadership 2014 was the kind of conference you needed to be at.

#FOL2014 (take a squiz twitter buffs, scroll down further past the festival of lanterns tweets) had some of the most diverse, engaging and passionate speakers, all in the one lineup who had taken it upon themselves to give their thoughts on the direction that leadership in a corporate sense is headed. And whilst they were all experts in very different things, there were a few key themes that came out of the day that for me became standout takeaways.

1) The three main functions of a leader are to manage pressure, make progress and establish connection. - Courtesy of Darren Hill

I've written about my friend Darren before, he's a legend, a people-studying legend. And it was pretty cool to get to hear him speak! But the above line he gave to us I thought so succinctly summed up the main functions as a leader, managing pressure so that your staff feel the heat but don't get burnt, moving forward towards the goals that have been set for you, and doing this on a foundation of connection with your team. Oh and we met some cool chemicals that are doing stuff in your body, give more high 5's, everyone needs a little oxytocin in their day. We are moving out of a trend to be managers, and into an era of being leaders. Leaders that not only have to be focussed on achieving goals for the business, but also achieving goals for their team. Inspire, build, motivate!


2) Being disruptive is simply challenging the status quo - Courtesy of Will Dayble, that guy from the internets

Ever caught yourself wondering that the word innovation actually looks like? Before you go and order 6 of them (true story, the man from the internet said it's happened). Innovation is simply being disruptive, challenging the status quo. According to Will it's like anarchy, over throwing what doesn't work and doing it better. As leaders we have to be a) ready to be disruptive, but in a way that's not destructive (how's that for a tongue twister) but we also have to b) be ready to be disrupted. If we're leading in a way that inspires and encourages our team to actually think and dream for themselves, we're guaranteed to be told at some stage that the way we're doing things isn't the most effective. Be prepared! *cue lion king chorus of singing animals*

Tim Longhurst, a futurist (his job is to think about the future, wild right) also touched on this saying "People who have no business changing the world are doing it" - greatness is happening on the edges of everything, from people who don't always appear to be the kind that would have the ability to, let's be ready for them to disrupt the world!

For another spin - Dr Adam Fraser spoke about this disruption in terms of tenacity and grit, and how in today's world change is happening unprecedented (see some themes coming out here) so leaders need to be agile. Be proud of the tough stuff, because it's what builds your grit to a point where you can foster and nurture world changing people and ideas!


3) Understand your people's stories - Courtesy of Tricia Velthuizen (what a surname right!)

Tricia and her husband Randall participated in the Hands Big Ride in January of this year and her story is one of determination, even when the odds are against you. I could spend the majority of this post retelling that story alone but I will let you read it here. Tricia is an incredibly intentional communicator, something you will pick up on in her blog. And the thing that I walked away with from her, was that everyone has a story that they bring to the table. But it's not that which is important, it's the story that you are now writing. Understanding your team and what motivates them, and why that motivates them is a skill that will only strengthen your leadership. Dr Jason Fox said it wonderfully when he talked about how motivation in the past has been driven by goal setting, but traditional tools are no longer working. As Darren said a key function of leadership is to establish connection, and taking the time to not only understand your team's stories, but also tell them your own, is probably something that not many managers give much thought to. That and giving their teams more high 5's.

This point was also emphasised through an incredibly elegant address from Yamini Naidu, in that storytelling is a contemporary tool completely under-utilised. She referred to this in terms of using storytelling as collaboration as storytelling invites and inspires those involved in it. Also if you ever want to see someone who can Bollywood dance and conduct a keynote at the same time, you've found your lady.


I guess what I have attempted is to give you my highlights reel of FOL2014. But that's a really hard thing to do when everything about the day was so inspiring. I might have also forgotten to mention that all of these incredible speakers actually gave their time to come and speak and all of the proceeds for the day went to Hands Across the Water, between FOL Brisbane and FOL Melbourne over $100,000 was raised for Hands. *cue applause*

As a young leader, hearing insight like this constantly makes me dream, and think and write and imagine. The biggest of thanks to the incredible Darren and Alison Hill for putting together such an inspiring day! Stay tuned kids for The Future of Workplace Culture, coming somewhere cool near you in 2015.

More cool stuff:

*The whole day, in visual notes http://www.slideshare.net/lynnecazaly/lynne-cazaly-visual-notes-from-the-future-of-leadership-in-brisbane-october-14-2014

*http://guydownes.com.au/ - this guy, did the whole day in pictorials. I'm sure it will be on his blog soon!

*http://www.suncorp.com.au/ - major sponsors, legends.

*http://www.workplaceleadership.com.au/ - other major sponsors, legends.