Resilient Leadership Program and Research

The Challenge

Various tourism destinations in Queensland were affected by natural disasters or adverse events in 2018 and 2019 which led to much welcomed Queensland and Federal government funding for the North Queensland floods and Central Queensland bushfires. We wanted to develop a Resilient Leadership model to support these communities. ITLA is already involved in offshore research with Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Beppu, Japan to build a model for Inclusive Leadership in the Onsen tourism sector based on our own models.

We believe that regional tourism needs to embrace inclusive and collective leadership to build on social capital and build resilience. Successful tourism relies on the ability of key players to identify potential tourism resources and attractions within communities whilst facilitating responsible tourism and community development; a collective leadership mindset.

We also believe there is a strong connection, supported by evidence-based research, between diversity, inclusion, resilience and wellness alongside leadership. Diversity can lead to the development and improvement of specific capabilities that contribute to organisational resilience.

The Process

In conjunction with Tourism Whitsundays and Mackay Tourism we researched, designed and developed a joint Resilient Leadership program delivered in 2020. Secondly, we worked separately with Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited (GAPDL) and Bundaberg Tourism to design and develop derivatives of this to suit their needs delivered in 2020. In all cases we lodged comprehensive, well researched and ultimately successful funding applications to support the roll out.

Our Solution

  • To develop a suitable Resilient Leadership Model, capable of transposition and tailoring to individual destinations. We began by focusing on Mindsets, an organisational Growth Mindset particularly, so that that growth and development is part of the goal of the work people do.

  • Secondly, we focus on Inclusion. The goal is an ecosystem where all voices are invited to contribute, by sharing their own ideas and discussing the ideas of others, where all people feel included and welcomed, and where the goals of the organisation reinforce that everyone has an important part to play.

  • Thirdly, we connected the link to resilience: that is – anticipation, or the preventative aspects of resilience; coping, or the implementation of solutions and reactions to change; and adaptation, or the development of new capabilities following unexpected events.

  • ITLA’s primary tenet is: Collective leadership in tourism destinations is vital for recovery after disasters and for strengthening adaptive capacity to manage sudden change. Whist the approach is very practical and develops both personal skills, efficacy and resilience, alongside real adaptive networks, it also draws on sound academic research which supports the approach to disaster responsiveness.

  • Finally, we underpinned our model with a foundational element - Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI provides the self-regulation to monitor unconscious biases and conscious actions.

  • We also borrowed the Diversity Council of Australia’s Five Mindsets and added our own mindset of  Collective Leadership, so vital in the tourism industry context.

The Outcomes

There are many anticipated long term outcomes, which include the following:

  • The regional tourism and business community is more resilient, connected and planned;
  • Business and not-for-profit organisations (included in several of the regions) have in place adequate mitigation practices for risks and threats;
  • There is an underlying awareness of what personal and regional resilience is, alongside dealing with stressful emotional situations;
  • Identifying local solutions and innovations which develop self-reliance, preparation and disaster mitigation and embracing tourism and business opportunities;
  • Scenario based learning promoting the creation of regional support networks with responses to either resolve or build connected communities and business operations;
  • Empowering regional communities when affected by disasters or adversity, to create their own solutions and deliver sustainable recovery or positive social and economic outcomes;
  • Build sector knowledge, leadership and resilience to future challenges;
  • Recognise that communities may choose different paths to recovery or social and economic outcomes and at different paces; and
  • Build strong partnerships between communities, businesses and those involved in the change process.