Transformative Leadership Program

A ground-breaking international collaboration to develop complex and adaptive thinking capacities in today’s leaders. Transform your thinking and gain new tools for addressing increasingly complex issues.

Cost: $12,500

Your commitment: 2 x 5-day intensives (one in Adelaide and one in Austin, Texas), plus interactive online sessions and out-of-class exercises delivered over approximately six months. 

Location: Adelaide and Austin, Texas.

Next intake: Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on travel, this program will next be offered in 2022.

For today’s executive, mastery of traditional leadership skills is no longer sufficient to guarantee success. They also require the advanced complex and adaptive thinking abilities that will enable them to become agile leaders.

And that requires a new form of leadership development program.

The Transformative Leadership Program is held over a six-month period to provide leaders with the opportunity to instill and apply the lessons learned to their organisational context.  During this time participants will engage in deep, experiential learning and remain closely connected to the Program through a combination of

  • on-site intensive learning led by renowned educators, first in Adelaide and then in Austin, Texas
  • on-site visits to organisations known for leading edge applications in excellence
  • interactive online sessions
  • purposeful interactions with peers outside the classroom
  • discussions with some of the best thinkers in and out of government.

Participants also undertake individual and group assignments designed to broaden their understanding of the concepts and provide opportunities to apply their learning in a real-world context.

  • What is covered in the course?

    A joint program delivered with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Collaborate with executives in similar leadership roles from the US.

    For today’s executive, mastery of traditional leadership skills is no longer sufficient to guarantee success. They also require the advanced complex and adaptive thinking abilities that will enable them to become agile leaders.

    And that in turn, requires a new form of leadership development program.

    The Transformative Leadership Program is held over a six-month period to provide leaders with the opportunity to instil and apply the lessons learned to their organisational context. During this time participants will engage in deep, experiential learning and remain closely connected to the program through a combination of study methods.

    Course topics

    • Adaptive and complex thinking.
    • Taking on multiple perspectives.
    • Leading transformative change.
    • Evolving as leaders.
    • Neuroleadership.
    • Power and rank.
    • Work and purpose.
    • Recognising the adaptive challenge.
    • Leading in complexity.
    • Leadership challenges.
    • Deeper adaptive and complex thinking.
    • Immunity to change.
    • Executive simulation.
    • Minding the system.
    • Liberating structures.
    • Transformational leadership.
    • Sustaining leadership.
  • Key learnings

    Research has demonstrated that leaders who develop the following competencies learn more, adapt faster and generate more complex solutions than those who do not. We have therefore ensured they are all addressed as part of the Transformative Leadership Program. 

    Mental agility: Awareness of a tendency to act, think, communicate and learn in a narrow “expert” mode, and the ability to consciously reframe one’s thinking to a higher leadership agility level.

    Mindfulness: The ability to recognise when thoughts of the past or future distract attention from what’s happening in the present, and refocus one’s attention on the internal and external experiences occurring in the moment.

    Test assumptions: The ability to recognise and test assumptions that restrict exercise of leadership, and understand how these may drive or constrain one’s thinking.

    Understand purpose: Understand organisational purpose, and how this connects to one’s work role and provides the energy and drive to exercise leadership.

    Understand role of authority: Understanding the role of authority in providing direction, protection and order in solving technical problems and its limitations in dealing with adaptive challenges.

    Identify adaptive challenges: The ability to understand and differentiate between the technical and adaptive aspects of a challenge.

    Taking multiple perspectives: The ability to view a situation from multiple perspectives, in the moment, to better observe the actions, behaviours and patterns of others and one’s self.

    Subjectivity: The ability to recognise that observations are subjective, and may be interpreted in a multitude of ways.

    Awareness of automatic responses: The ability to recognise one’s automatic responses, based on past experience, and to assess, in the moment, whether they’re appropriate in the current context

    Work across factions: The ability to recognise and engage different factions that surface, and understand how to work across different factions in the service of making progress on adaptive challenges.

    Active collaboration: The ability to broaden one’s focus beyond the people in the room and the group most directly involved, and to consider how one can collaborate effectively with each player to engage their constituencies.

    What our alumni tell us about the program 

    • 100% continue to use the tools and concepts explored over the course of the program in their current roles.
    • 100% believe the program has enabled them to become more effective leaders.
    • 95% feel their participation in the program has a significant impact within their departments.

    * Based on feedback obtained through a survey completed by more than 60% of program alumni in 2016.

    Data on the program’s impact suggests that 70% of participants developed improved thinking capabilities over the course of the program. This was demonstrated through an internationally certified psychometric test. The results suggest that these participants developed broader and more complex world views and increased self-awareness. These are key attributes of successful leaders who can think in complex, strategic and interdependent ways. 

  • Should I attend?

    For senior leaders and high performing executives.

    The Transformative Leadership Program has been developed specifically to meet the needs of senior, or soon-to-become senior, leaders. It is designed to enhance the complex thinking capabilities of high-performing professionals who are already able to think strategically, work effectively in teams and who are open to new perspectives.

    Please note that numbers are strictly limited to 30 participants.

  • How will my organisation benefit?

    The Transformative Leadership Program has been developed to specifically help leaders understand the nature of complexity and change, giving them various tools to view organisational situations from multiple perspectives. This will allow them to take a fresh perspective and adapt to significant change.

    A joint program delivered by the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and The University of Adelaide’s PACE Unit, this unique experience will transform participants’ thinking and leadership effectiveness. The international aspect, with interaction with those in similar leadership roles from another country, is intended to instill and enhance the new perspectives needed for addressing increasingly complex issues.

    Research shows that study abroad programs are usually defining moments in the lives of participants. Most leaders who have studied abroad report that the experience increased their self-confidence, enabled them to better tolerate ambiguity, and enhanced their ability to view the world and its issues from several perspectives.

  • Key dates

    The health, safety and wellbeing of our community remains our top priority, and as such, we have decided to cancel the 2021 program due to ongoing concerns around COVID-19. We plan to run the program again from 2022.

    However, an example of the study plan you might follow is:

    Program Element



    Program Orientation

    90 minutes, July


    Group familiarisation

    1 hour, July

    Online – Live

    Pre-intensive assignments

    8 hours, Jul-Aug


    Pre-intensive Check-in

    1 hour, August

    Online – Live

    Adelaide Intensive

    5 days, August


    Inter-intensive application tasks

    2 hours, Aug-Oct


    Leadership Challenge Follow-up

    1 hour, September

    Online -Live

    Application Workshop

    2 hours, October

    Online – Live

    Pre-intensive assignments

    6 hours, October


    Pre-intensive check-in

    1 hour, October

    Online - Live

    Texas Intensive

    5 days, November

    Austin, Texas

    Formal Conclusion

    90 minutes, December


  • Facilitators

    This program brings together a facilitation team from Australia and the USA, with the key facilitators being:

    Andrew Stevens

    Andrew is passionate about the role that management and leadership development plays in making organisations, communities and even societies more productive, more human and more successful.

    An experienced facilitator, Andrew spent seven years as Director and Assistant Dean of the Executive Education Unit at the University of Adelaide, where he led a wide variety of Leadership and Management programs for approximately 1200 participants per year.

    ​He completed an MBA at the University of Adelaide in 2005 and is a fellow of the Governors Leadership Foundation Program (GLF). He is also a graduate of the 'Art and Practice of Leadership Development' program at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

    Dr Barry V.Bales

    Barry is a Director  of The Uncharted Leadership Institute, USA. Previously he was the Assistant Dean for Professional Development at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin.

    ​He continues to hold a faculty position as Clinical Professor of Public Policy Practice in the School’s Executive Master in Public Leadership Program.

    Barry is a frequent seminar / conference speaker in the areas of leadership, systems thinking, strategic planning, and executive development and has taught, consulted with and coached leaders and executives in 15 US states and 9 foreign countries. He has a Ph.D. in Adult and Human Resource Development Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.

    Joyce Sparks

    Joyce is the Director of the Governor's Centre, LBJ School of Public Affairs, at The University of Texas. The Centre provides professional development services for thousands of managers and leaders at all organisational levels each year.

    Joyce is an ICF Credentialed Master Certified Coach, has been doing executive coaching for over 17 years and has worked with government executives as well as private sector clients. She has provided leadership development and coaching sessions for executive officials from across the United States, Canada, Eastern Europe, Africa, Brazil and Australia.

    Guest Speakers

    Examples of the guest speakers this program has previously had the privilege of working with include:

    The Hon Julia Gillard

    Ms Gillard is the first woman to ever serve as Australia’s Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister. In October 2012, Ms Gillard received worldwide attention for her speech in Parliament on the treatment of women in professional and public life. Ms Gillard is a Distinguished Fellow with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In February 2014, Ms Gillard was appointed Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, a leading organisation dedicated to expanding access and quality education worldwide.  In February 2015, Ms Gillard was appointed Chancellor of Dücere, Australia’s leading education provider for business and management courses from Diploma levels through to a world’s first MBA program. Ms Gillard also serves as an Honorary Professor at The University of Adelaide, and is Patron of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library in Perth, Western Australia. Ms Gillard’s memoirs, My Story, were published by Random House in September 2014.

    Dr Lisa Lahey

    A faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work and Immunity to Change, Dr Lahey and her colleague Dr Robert Kegan were recently awarded Boston University’s esteemed Gislason Prize for exceptional contributions to organisational leadership. They also received the Vision of Excellence Award from Harvard’s Institute of Coaching in 2013.

    Dr Betty Sue Flowers

    Dr Betty Sue Flowers is Emeritus Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the international team responsible for writing Global Scenarios for Shell International in London—stories about the future of the world for the next 30 years. She edited a book in collaboration with Joseph Jaworski on the inner dimensions of leadership, Synchronicity, and has published another with Jaworski, Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer on Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future. Dr Flowers was the editor of global scenarios for sustainable development and scenarios for the future of biotechnology, both sponsored by the World Business Council in Geneva.

    Dr Jennifer Garvey Berger

    Formerly an associate professor at George Mason University, Jennifer believes that the best organisations help make people bigger, more creative, more capable; organisations can and should be places where we live on our growing edge, expanding our own capabilities as we do good work. Leadership, then, is about creating the conditions for people to be their biggest selves. Almost no one knows how to do this intuitively; leadership is a discipline as much as accounting, law, or engineering. As Jennifer says in her first book, Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world, if we want organisations where people are thriving and bringing their best, we need leaders who are learning. Jennifer and Keith Johnston have written a new book about their leadership development approach, Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Jennifer has worked with senior leaders in the higher education, private, non-profit and government sectors, in North America and Australasia (including The University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney, Google, KPMG, Microsoft, Lion, Wikimedia, the New Zealand Department of Conservation).

    Ms Diana Renner

    Diana is Director of Not Knowing Lab, an international consulting practice focused on building the capability of organisations and individuals to successfully navigate uncertainty and complexity. She consults to senior executives in a range of commercial, government and community organisations around the world. She is co-author of Not Knowing: the art of turning uncertainty into opportunity, with Steven D’Souza, published in May 2014. Diana’s diverse career spans the fields of law, strategy, communications, refugee advocacy and leadership development. She has facilitated a variety

    of leadership programs, including as a Faculty member with Harvard University Kennedy School of Government for ‘The Art & Practice of Leadership Development’ and workshops for The University of Adelaide, The University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, Monash University and the Centre for Sustainability Leadership.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from fellow state executives and our Australian counterparts. I valued the teaching of the program leaders and its highly-qualified speakers, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and experience. I would highly recommend the TLP to any state agency executive wanting to expand their knowledge in leadership principles and executive function within their current agency and beyond.TLP participant