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Strengthen your decision-making and influencing skills with ANZSOG’s Dr Zina O’Leary

6 October 2020

News and media


person deciding which path to take

COVID-19 has changed everything, even the way we communicate with our colleagues. So how can public sector leaders begin to make sense of the new reality and strengthen their skills for these volatile and uncertain times?

Dr Zina O’Leary, one of ANZSOG’s most experienced and popular presenters, is sharing her expertise on evidence-based decision making and communicating for impact and influence through two upcoming, online workshops in 2020; Learning to communicate for impact and influence (October 27-28) and Decision making in times of crisis (November 17-18).

She will also be presenting a masterclass in March next year as part of ANZSOG’s Future public sector leaders’ series.

The workshops focus on the two key challenges facing public managers in this uncertain time: how to make effective decisions in uncertain and complex times and how to communicate decisions effectively to win support.

These skills have come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic, as public sector agencies must quickly and effectively develop policy, change the way they work and collaborate in unprecedented ways.

Sound decision-making strategies

In Decision making in times of crisis, Dr O’Leary will explore strategies public sector leaders can use to engage in risk assessments and scenario planning, weigh competing interests, work with limited data and maintain accountability and transparency.

“This period of ongoing crisis has had a greater impact on how you conduct your business than any other challenge you have faced in your career,” Dr O’Leary said.

“The pressure to make sound decisions during this time is high, yet data is scarce, time frames are tight and the consequences of making a poor decision can be grave.

“There are no easy answers, but there are strategies that can help you with risk assessment, managing complexity and transparency – and which can help inspire confidence in others.”

Dr O’Leary said the course would include practical approaches to help adapt decision-making with a focus on ‘what you can do, not just what you know’.

Communicating to get a result

Strong communication skills have always been essential to getting results in the public sector, and COVID-19 has made it even more vital for public sector leaders to be able to influence others and inspire action.

The Learning to communicate for impact and influence workshop will look at the demands of communicating in the new online environment as well as general skills for delivering messages that can ‘cut through’ the noise in a time of crisis.

The workshop will help participants identify the main elements of effective communication and communicate with clarity, purpose and focus. It will also help them use body, voice and language for maximum impact, and manage difficult communication without becoming defensive or aggressive.

Dr O’Leary believes that anyone can become a better communicator by understanding and harnessing their personal communication style.

“The ability to deliver messages that convince people to act, whether in person or online, is a highly prized attribute,” she said.

“Yet developing an authentic and persuasive communication style is not a given. In fact, in our drive to be professional, we often mask our individuality and obscure our authenticity.

“The workshop will help you develop your style of communication by tackling your fears and tapping into your strengths.

“There are many ways to successfully communicate, and both introverted and extroverted personalities can motivate action.

“Good communicators bring their best self forward, no matter what that best is. If they are naturally sincere, they show their sincerity. If they care a lot, they show that they are caring. Wise, then they show their wisdom. Empathetic, then they show that. They allow themselves to be seen.”

Dr O’Leary has researched successful public sector presentations to understand what makes communication influence action, and the workshop will include individual practice and coaching.

“Communication in the age of Google and Wikipedia needs to do more than inform, it also needs to make an impact and to be influential. Knowing your subject is only the start.

“You need to shift your focus from “What do I want to share with my audience?” to “What do I want my audience to think, feel or do differently based on my presentation?.”

These links have more of Dr O’Leary’s advice on effective presentations and making your communication more influential.

Registrations are now open for both Learning to communicate for impact and influence and Decision making in times of crisis. Both workshops consist of two sessions on consecutive days, with an emphasis on discussion and small group work.

The workshops are designed for executives, managers and professional staff in the public sector, local government or not-for-profits who want to boost their skills and become more effective at dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 environment.

For more information on the two workshops visit ANZSOG’s website.