ANZSOG’s Towards Strategic Leadership program uncovers the potential strengths in public service leaders and encourages them to overcome personal obstacles and think more strategically about their everyday practices.

Applications for the 2019 Towards Strategic Leadership program have now closed. To register your interest for 2020, please fill out an expression of interest form.

ANZSOG’s Towards Strategic Leadership Program (TSL) is a unique two-week program that helps public service leaders develop the qualities needed to thrive in a senior executive role: a strategic outlook, political astuteness, personal resilience and the capacity to reflect and learn continuously.

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What is TSL?

TSL creates an environment where learning can happen that cannot take place in a work context filled with day-to-day pressure or a conventional classroom setting.

With a keen focus on personal reflection, TSL is designed to provide participants with a defined sense of purpose, a stronger sense of self and the ability to recognise and manage urgent and important tasks within their department and the larger public administration setting.

As in most ANZSOG programs, participants are viewed as co-contributors to the program – an integral ingredient to the program’s success. In fact, TSL harnesses the knowledge and experience of the participants who, as professional peers, share a common language and a commitment to public service.

We encourage participants to share their experiences within the safety and context of the program’s themes and frameworks, creating a collaborative learning environment that allows everyone to draw on the expertise in the room.

The entire program is run under Chatham House Rule.

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Who is it for?

TSL is the ideal program for public sector executives, such as Directors and Branch Managers, and those who have moved from an operational to a strategic leadership role in a government or not-for-profit organisation. The program will suit those seeking clarity in their decision-making to help them perform their roles with purpose and good judgment. TSL will provide a tangible boost in confidence and skills for leaders facing senior executive responsibilities for the first time

 “Our TSL graduates develop a well rounded and balanced approach to tackling some of the more complex and challenging policy problems facing Victoria.” - Chris Eccles Secretary Department of Premier and CabinetTom McGregor, Director, Legal Services - Youth Justice, Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation:  “TSL has given me a better understanding who I am as a leader and my strengths, as well as some of my blind spots.”   Nicole Opie, Assistant Director Asset Planning Services, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services:  “We had a  diverse cohort of people from across Australia and New Zealand, each bringing their own experiences to the group. It has been great to know that there are people experiencing the same issues.”

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Why should I choose TSL?

TSL is not your average leadership program. With innovative and respected program co-directors at the helm, TSL creates a dynamic forum which combines non-traditional learning methods, such as extensive individual and group-based reflection and real-world case studies, with experiential learning and critical thinking.

Across two one-week modules, participants explore:

      • the triangle of self, role and system within which strategic leadership takes place
      • assumptions about themselves, their organisation and the wider public sector
      • change and the adaptive capacity of systems
TSL encourages participants to identify personal and institutional strengths and weaknesses, helping them understand their personal leadership styles, and how their roles fit within their organisation, the broader public sector and the community.

Participants will develop reflective and strategic thinking, and discover tools to discern and address the urgent and strategically important tasks, with an emphasis on integrating them into their everyday practices.

The live case study, a program highlight, moves participants from the abstract into the real world, where they tackle a real issue, experiencing the passion, purpose, innovation, confusion and avoidance that comes with managing a complex adaptive challenge.

WATCH: 2018 TSL participants Tom McGregor and Nicole Opie talk about the live case study.

Our participants are leaders who value the importance of rising above ‘fire-fighting’ and relentless ‘issue management’ in public service life. They are keen to get ahead of the game.- Paul 't Hart, Towards Strategic Leadership Co-Director

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At the end of the program, participants will have:

  • Explored their leadership influences and identified their appetite for strategic leadership roles
  • Developed critical and reflective skills to clarify personal values and support their own and others' development as leaders
  • Gained insight into the systemic dynamics, which underpin strategic leadership
  • Become more resilient and adaptive in the face of pressure and conflict
  • Critically evaluated theories and concepts of leading change and innovation in public sector setting
  • Built their capacity to tackle ‘wicked’ problems
  • Built new relationships with fellow participants who come from a range of levels and sectors across Australia and New Zealand
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TSL is delivered across two one-week blocks in two separate cities:

Module 1: Monday 27 May – Friday 31 May 2019, Brisbane (Australia)

Module 2: Monday 21 October – Friday 25 October, Melbourne (Australia)

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How do I apply?

Participants may be nominated by their employers or may nominate themselves. The program offers a maximum of 40 places each year and candidates are reviewed by a selection committee, which assesses each applicant’s level and experience and, where possible, seeks a balance of jurisdictions and departments.

If you are interested in applying for TSL, we encourage you to speak to our alumni to get an insider's perspective. Please contact our Programs Team, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to arrange an introduction.

It’s less academic than other courses, and deliberately so. It’s highly pragmatic with practical elements but is led by contemporary thinking and research about public sector leadership.- Robbie Macpherson

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Paul 't Hart

Professor of Public Administration at Utrecht University and Associate Dean of the Netherlands School of Public Administration in The Hague. His experience with leadership is based on extensive and close-up research, training and consulting in the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia. His work focuses on political and public service leadership, policy evaluation, public accountability and crisis management. He currently leads a program of research in what makes public policies, organisations and networks particularly successful.

Robbie Macpherson

Managing Director of Adaptable Leadership and Principal at Reos Partners, a global consultancy that drives thinking and practice in solving tough, systemic problems. He has extensive experience developing senior public sector leaders as well as executives in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. He has worked in Scotland, Australia, the Netherlands, the US and South Africa.

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Information for managers and sponsoring agencies

ANZSOG creates and delivers industry-leading educational programs tailored to meet the needs of public sector leaders, who face an array of challenges distinct from those found in private enterprise.

Our programs are designed by government, for government, and led by renowned academics and top practitioners from the government and non-government sectors.

Who should I nominate?

Nominate a public sector executive, such as a Director or Branch Manager, or someone who has moved from an operational to a strategic leadership role in a government or not-for-profit organisation.

The program will suit those seeking clarity in their decision-making to help them perform their roles with purpose and good judgment.


The sponsoring government or agency covers program costs, including tuition fee, program materials, accommodation and most meals.

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Alumni community

The ANZSOG experience reaches well beyond the classroom. The national and international networks to which participants gain access to while completing the TSL program will be invaluable throughout their career.

Our Alumni Program helps participants to maintain and build on their peer-to-peer relationships, creating a broad community of public sector managers from around New Zealand, Australia and internationally. This provides an opportunity for ongoing learning and support from peers, greater exposure to different perspectives, and an appreciation of work done, and solutions found, elsewhere.

Shared learning

Participants will have opportunities to apply new learnings and insights to their workplace and are encouraged to share their learnings with others.

We encourage sponsoring managers to facilitate such opportunities for participants to ‘give back’ and add further value as a result of their studies.

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Find out more

Seeking more information?

Or perhaps you’d like to speak to TSL alumni to find out about their experience?

Contact the ANZSOG Programs Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Key people

Paul 't Hart

  • Job Title: Professor
  • Organisation: Utrecht University and Netherlands School of Government
View Paul 't Hart's Profile
View Paul 't Hart's Profile

Robbie Macpherson

  • Job Title: Managing Director
  • Organisation: Adaptable Leadership
View Robbie Macpherson's Profile
View Robbie Macpherson's Profile