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Become an authentic leader, improve your decision-making and problem solving and communication skills with ANZSOG workshops

5 April 2023

News and media


When was the last time you took time to invest in your own skills, or step back and take a fresh look at how you do your job? 

As the work of the public sector becomes more difficult, investing in your skills and leadership, and those of your team, is becoming increasingly more rewarding. 

As well as our foundation programs, such as the two-year Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), ANZSOG runs regular short workshops focusing on specific issues and presented by leading public administration thinkers. 

ANZSOG’s upcoming online workshops offer a chance to shake up your thinking and acquire the tools you need to help with the challenges of your work. All are suitable for public servants at all levels who want to discover new approaches. 

Harvard Kennedy School’s Dr Dana Born will present Authentic Leadership for the path ahead, an online workshop delivered in six weekly sessions in April/May, which will help participants discover their leadership potential. 

Dr Born is a distinguished former US military leader and Exchange Officer with the RAAF, and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has a long-term involvement with ANZSOG programs. 

She says that the uncertainty and volatility of the post-COVID era has shown the importance of ‘authentic leaders’ who can build trust and confidence and create a sense of meaning around what they and their teams are doing.  

She says the concept of Authentic Leadership takes the role of a leader beyond a set of managerial skills and allows them to bring their authentic selves into their leadership. 

“Authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that focuses on original, genuine and ethical leader behaviour and encourages the open sharing of information needed to make decisions while accepting input from followers,” Dr Born said.  

She said that good leaders have self-awareness and self-acceptance, a growth mindset and the ability to integrate different parts of themselves, and to manage the ‘we’ and the “I’ of leadership.  

“Many public servants jump straight into the ‘we’ – what can ‘we” do together – and don’t pay enough attention to the ‘I’ – the importance of themselves as a person and what they need to focus on to inspire others.”   

She said that while there were many ways to be an effective and authentic leader, there were some traits that good leaders had in common. 

“We have to work on our curiosity, leaders must have the capacity to learn and listen, to have more questions than answers, and to be thinking about what they don’t know – or what they don’t know they don’t know,” Dr Born said.  

“Another requirement is reflection, the process of taking time to really think about what and why we are doing something.  This means investing time to establish ways of measuring that let us apprise where we are and where we are headed. It means implementing double-loop learning: so that we are actually iterating to get closer to where we want to be, rather than being stuck in neutral by doing the same thing time and again.”  

“Finally, we need to have a clear definition of success. What is success for us as an organisation? What does success look like for me when I take my last breath? This is an effort to write the history of our future and align to it in our daily activities and efforts.”  

The Authentic Leadership for the path ahead workshop will guide you through case studies, individual exercises, debates and small-group discussions. Dr Born will help you discover ideas, techniques and tools to grow your self-awareness, develop a ‘learning mindset’ and assist you in your leadership development journey. 

Registrations for Authentic leadership for the path ahead close on 10 April. 

Problem solving, communications and decision-making

Dr Zina O’Leary is an ANZSOG Senior Fellow and adjunct Professor at the Joseph R. Biden Jr. School of Public Policy, University of Delaware, who has previously taught at the University of Sydney Business School, and worked as a consultant to the World Health Organisation. 

She brings her experience of the work of government to three, two-day workshops designed to give participants a better understanding of communications, decision-making and problem solving in the complex environment of the modern public sector. 

Dr O’Leary’s The problem with problems workshop will give participants an understanding of how to address problems holistically and deliver sustainable solutions that meet the needs of stakeholders. 

 The ability to meet problems head on in the most efficient, effective and sustainable fashion is essential for any professional wanting to make their mark, she says.  

“Our organisations are plagued with them. Some we see coming, but others sneak up on us. Putting out fires on a daily basis means we are sometimes left with little time to tackle our core business, let alone plan for an improved future.” 

In this workshop, Dr O’Leary will take participants through the challenges of tackling issues before they become problems; identifying problems so that they can be addressed; analysing problems so that effective strategies can be developed; and resolving problems in a sustainable way that satisfies stakeholders. 

Decision-making strategies will show participants how to cut through the noise and create better decision-making capability for their organisations. The course will be highly practical and focus on the issues directly affecting public servants, with a focus on developing what participants will be able to do in response. 

Dr O’Leary says that in times where change seems to be the only constant, public servants need to be able to make strong, efficacious decisions.  

“Data can be scarce or even overwhelming. Time frames can be tight, tensions can be high, and implications can be grave. So, what do we do? Well, there are no easy answers, but there are strategies we can add to our tool chest – that can help with risk assessment, with effectiveness, with transparency, and with accountability.” 

Participants will finish the workshop better able to empathise with leaders and decision-makers under pressure and an ability to understand and balance competing stakeholder and other interests, to engage in risk assessment, and undertake scenario planning. 

The ability to deliver messages that cut-through and convince people to act, whether in person or online, is a highly prized attribute in all parts of the public service. Yet many public servants fail to develop an authentic and persuasive communication style, becoming overly professional in a way that obscures their individuality. 

In Learning to Communicate for Impact and Influence  Dr O’Leary, will help you find your authentic style and share best practice communication strategies to make you more impactful and influential. She will get to the core of what blocks you from communicating at your best by tackling your fears and challenging you to tap into your strengths. 

The workshop will cover communications in a variety of forums, including the online environment, The workshop incorporates a variety of inputs, group discussion and small group work. It also gives participants an opportunity to give a mini presentation and receive individual feedback. 

“This course covers a range of skills and will help you identify key elements of effective and purposeful communication, use your body, voice and language for maximum impact, and learn how to manage difficult conversations,” she said. 

“This program is highly applied. The goal is to have participants doing things ‘differently’ directly after the first day of the workshop.” 

Dr O’Leary’s three online workshops consist of two, three-hour sessions and applications are now open. You can find a full list of upcoming workshops on the ANZSOG website.