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A model approach to leadership

Ali Walker’s presentation on leadership at the IQA National Conference empowered people to connect with their inner leader.

Ali Walker’s presentation on leadership at the IQA National Conference empowered people to connect with their inner leader.

Ali Walker’s interest in leadership and group dynamics started around the dinner table. As one of five children, Walker was drawn into lively conversations and debates from an early age, and she would eventually make a career out of it.

Starting as a criminal lawyer, Walker’s professional life would see her awarded a PhD from the Australian National University while researching human behaviour and group dynamics and write a best-selling book, all while delivering talks on leadership across the country.

Walker’s talks focus on some of the reasonings behind high- and low-performing teams, reading patterns in relationships and what successful leaders do differently.

She has spoken for Google Australia, the Australian Department of Health, Australia Post, the Australian Department of Education and TEDxUNSW, among other places.

In Walker’s presentation at the Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA) National Conference in March, the focus was on leadership; how to pick the best leader for a team, how to find what sort of leader you are, and how leaders can represent their values and model the behaviours they want in their company.

Walker’s opening message was that everyone is capable of leadership, whether they have a formal position of authority or not.

She maintained that leadership can – and should – be taught.

“Everyone is capable of leadership. You are capable of being a leader in your team based on your representation of what your team values,” Walker said.

She encouraged audience members to think about what their teams or organisations value in order to find leaders.

While teams might think the most important aspect of teamwork is keeping people comfortable, they should be focusing more on leadership and growth.

In particular, this should involve hearing all team members and not dismissing any ideas.

To help people understand the different connection types, Walker has developed a GROW model. Understanding how team members fit into the model will allow leaders to ensure each member feels like they belong in the culture.

There are four different connection types in the model: yellow, blue, green and earth.

According to Walker, yellow types are people-focused and will feel a sense of belonging by talking to team members and engaging with visionary leadership.

Blue types will develop one-on-one relationships and, as a leader, will use their team to have their voice heard instead of speaking directly.

Green personality types are task-focused whether they are working in a team or alone.

They don’t get caught up in emotions, rather preferring to stay grounded.

Earth types are less emotional but are very social within their groups. They uphold traditions and rituals but don’t want to be around just anyone, tending to curate their groups carefully.

There are of course going to be those who don’t feel as though they fit into any role. These people are called shape shifters and Walker said they were the ultimate adapters. It is in their nature to adapt to what the group needs.

Walker reiterated that there are no rights or wrongs when it comes to leadership types, as teams need diversity. All leadership types can be assets and she encouraged leaders to not fill their teams with clones of themselves to allow the team to benefit from all types of people.

Leadership is very contextual – there are certain environments that will require certain types of leaders and people should consider this idea when choosing leaders. Walker discovered this when she spoke with members of the Navy, who indicated that green personality types would make the best leaders for them.

“What are the best leadership styles? There’s just no answer for that because every organisation has its own lifecycle and needs,” Walker said. •

Visit to learn more about Ali Walker’s organisational and leadership talks.

This feature first appeared in the June issue of Quarry.


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