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ANZSOG Public Leadership Masterclass series to provide different lenses on leadership

16 May 2024

News and media


Complex and uncertain public sector environments require new ways of thinking and new approaches to leadership. 

ANZSOG’s Public Leadership Masterclass series (PLM) will return for 2024 and provide a space for reflection and a chance for leaders to re-energise their thinking through exposure to new ideas. 

PLM recognises that public leadership is strengthened by an ability to see things from multiple perspectives, and that leaders need to think more creatively to solve complex problems, and avoid falling into the same flawed patterns of thinking. 

In 2024, ANZSOG will offer two PLM series – each one made up of five two-hour masterclasses that speak to an overarching theme and are structured to allow for ample reflection and discussion with counterparts from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The first PLM series ‘Leadership Through Different Lenses’ – will introduce participants to contemporary perspectives on leadership and challenge them about the type of leader they want to become. 

In order to give participants the most value, and to facilitate more peer-to-peer learning and cross-jurisdictional connection, participants will need to sign up for all five masterclasses in ‘Leadership Through Different Lenses’, which begins on 21 August. 

Each masterclass looks at a different theme including: power dynamics and influencing for long-term success, overcoming obstacles to collaboration, high performing teams, and mastering ethical leadership 

Marianne Stacy and John Sautelle, from leadership development organisation, Cultivating Leadership, will begin the PLM series with an exploration of how Leading in Complexity requires a shift to our leadership style to meet the challenges of complex environments.  This shift paves the way for thinking differently throughout the PLM program, by inviting leaders to take a broader, more nuanced perspective on their work. 

The masterclass will look at the work of Dr Jennifer Garvey Berger, leadership researcher and author, who identified several ‘Mindtraps’ – habitual ways of responding, that can significantly impede leaders’ effectiveness in dealing with complexity.   

“The cognitive and emotional shortcuts honed over the course of tens of thousands of years of evolution are so automatic that we use them without even noticing whether they’re helpful or not. Part cognitive bias, part neurological quirk, part adaptive response to a simple world that doesn’t exist anymore, they are “mindtraps” 

(Jennifer Garvey Berger, Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to thrive in complexity,2019, Stanford University Press p. 8-9)  

Five of the most significant mindtraps are: Simple Stories, Rightness, Agreement, Control, and Ego. 

“Mindtraps are certain patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting  that are effective for the predictable world, and have worked really well traditionally, but they’re of limited value in our current context.” Ms Stacy said. 

Mr Sautelle said that awareness of mindtraps, and having strategies to escape them, is more vital than ever for leaders today. 

 “The world is so complex now and moving so quickly. That increases the likelihood of these mindtraps coming into play, especially the mindtrap of Control.  Leaders can’t do it all themselves. They can’t know enough or access enough information. There’s not enough wisdom that any one person can hold to be able to navigate the complexity,” he said.  

“That can be a challenge because we get comfort and certainty out of being able to control and predict. We have to let go of that and have a more nuanced approach.” 

The workshop will further explain how mindtraps can constrain innovation and problem-solving and provide practical strategies to avoid them. 

“Firstly, being aware that in complex situations, you need to be truly present to what’s happening in the moment, rather than falling into a habitual mode of making assumptions and potentially missing crucial information and opportunities. Being aware of mindtraps helps us sidestep them and find more productive ways to make progress.” Ms Stacy said. 

“For each of the mindtraps there are a series of fairly simple things that you can do to get some psychological distance between yourself and that ‘mindtrap’ way of thinking that then frees you up to operate differently,” Mr Sautelle said. 

Mr Sautelle said that whilst mindtraps are relevant to all leaders, those in the public sector have some added challenges unique to their authorising environment.  

“Public sector leaders face significant complexity in how they manage the polarity of giving frank and fearless advice and at the same time implementing the policies of the government of the day without being captive to that,” he said. 

He said that public sector leaders today need to be lifetime learners with high levels of self-awareness and curiosity about the mindtraps most prevalent for them, and for those they lead. 

“Dealing with complexity requires experimenting, adapting, learning from experience and learning from what’s happening. That’s not possible unless you have the mindset of being a lifetime learner yourself, and awareness of how these mindtraps can trip you up.” 

“Leaders need to be willing to go beyond the usual questions, go broader and get the perspectives of people that you don’t normally listen to or to consider the situation or the scenario that you deal with in different ways.” 

The presenters said that the main thing they hoped to achieve through the Masterclass was to create an awareness of the mindtraps and the extent to which they were unconsciously driven. 

“The first step is awareness because once you are aware of them, then you can start working on ways to ensure you don’t fall into them,” Mr Sautelle said. 

“I’d love participants to share the concept of mind traps with their teams, and to use them as a basis for exploring complex issues more productively.  We’ve heard many stories of teams who’ve said this gives them a common language, and a positive way to challenge and expand their thinking.” Ms Stacy said. 

The following four masterclasses in Leadership Through Different Lenses are:

  • Power dynamics and influencing for long-term success, Jen Overbeck 
  • Overcoming obstacles to collaboration, Paul Atkins 
  • High performing teams, Robin Ryde 
  • Mastering ethical leadership, Karin Lasthuizen 

More information about the Public Leadership Masterclass series is available here including session times and pricing, including discounts for group bookings.