Ken Whelan on joining HardyGroup as a Set Facilitator

05 Oct 2017

As a Registered Nurse originally then a Senior Manager in Health for 8 years then CEO roles for 20 years I look back on my career pre and post CEO and reflect on some of the things that made a difference for me. The one consistent factor for me has been learning sets.

In my early journey as a Senior Manager struggling with what that actually meant and feeling both excited about the future but fearful I was moving away from the “bedside”, learning sets exposed me to a range of colleagues across Australia and NZ with similar issues and in many cases different solutions so I learnt and grew in a very supportive environment.

I was challenged constantly around my thinking and this in turn helped me think outside traditional boxes and test my assumptions again in a supportive but robust environment. My confidence as a manager grew, my knowledge as a manager grew and my empathy as a leader began to flourish. In those early days where I struggled with direction the people in learning sets helped me with the ‘context’ of being a health manager and how I could keep my core patient driven values but impact at a system level. I have never forgotten that learning and in many ways that learning and commitment enabled me to stay on the leadership journey..

Fast forward 20 years being a CE can be a lonely place especially in the Government Sector where often politics outweighs logic so decisions made are not always readily seen and accepted by others. [pullquote]Learning Sets are a “safe environment”[/pullquote] Learning Sets are a “safe environment” to not only test assumptions but at time ventilate, share daily frustrations and develop strategies to go forward.  We often get hung up on metrics, ROI’s and management speak and as a result operate in a management bubble which moves us further away from our core business which in my case is Health something I remain very passionate about. Health is about improving patient care at an individual level and at a system level enable communities to improve health status. A health leader needs to be constantly reminding the politicians, the health Departments and the  organisation they are leading we are in the patient care delivery business. The rest quite frankly is noise. BUT where can one safely test ones ideas, where can one be challenged in a robust manner by others in the same or similar positions the answer is in a learning set environment.

So for me now for family reasons I am spending more time with family and as a result have decided to go in a different direction for the next few years and in doing so hopefully share some of my learnings and give back to a sector I care deeply about, facilitating a few learning sets for me is a natural progression. The young, hungry middle manager with their heart set on a CEO gig excite me! and enable me to continue to be challenged and keep learning but also I can provide some wisdom to balance the adrenaline of youth! In my mind Learning Sets are a fantastic environment to keep adding value and to support the leaders of today whilst growing the leaders of tomorrow…