An alumnus’ experience: Ferris Bueller and understanding the adaptive leadership challenge

An alumnus’ experience: Ferris Bueller and understanding the adaptive leadership challenge
  • Published Date: 17 February 2017

One of the challenges for public sector leaders can be finding the time to reflect on and develop their leadership style. Mark Hogan, a recent graduate from ANZSOG’s Towards Strategic Leadership (TSL) program, says “TSL had a compelling learning model that I found instantly appealing, particularly the opportunity to be part of a community of practice with other people in the public sector”.


Applications for the 2017 Towards Strategic Leadership program are closing soon. Find out more here.


Mark joined the state government ranks two years ago, as a Manager at Regional Development Victoria, in the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

Looking for learning opportunities and time to explore the latest thinking in leadership in public administration, Mark undertook the TSL program in 2016.

“A famous philosopher once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it”,” Mark said.

“Actually, the philosopher was Ferris Bueller, but regardless of where the quote came from, it applies just as nicely to work as it does to life. Sometimes we get so caught up in the doing that we fail to make time to reflect and consider our own development needs as leaders.

“That Ferris Bueller quote is a compelling one in the context of the challenges we are facing in the public sector. TSL is perfectly placed to support emerging leaders to understand the adaptive leadership challenge we are grappling with. How might we tackle it from our own unique perspective, given the diverse nature of what the public sector does?

“The program challenged my thinking at every opportunity and took me beyond my comfort zone, but I felt supported every step of the way. Having the opportunity to explore the latest ideas and thinking about leadership and public administration from around the world was empowering, and sat neatly alongside the participatory learning that comes from being part of an intensive community of practice with other emerging leaders from around Australia and across the ditch.

“For me, TSL was a great reminder of the personal value that can be generated by pushing your learning to that sweet spot that sits outside your ‘comfort zone’, and the need to reflect and honestly evaluate your own performance and progress as a regular productive habit. Taking a helicopter view of my work and our working environment is something I have adopted from the program.

“The evaluation tools around leadership and learning styles was incredibly valuable, particularly being able to understand what motivates different styles, and how those styles respond under stress. This will be useful into the future to help me find the right balance within teams that I’m leading, and to understand my contribution to my peer group. The program has given me an improved sense of confidence that I can add value to the public sector through my leadership style.

“The opportunity be part of a community of practice with other people in the public sector is a significant benefit of the program. Towards Strategic Leadership has greatly expanded my network of peers, which will be invaluable over the coming years to support me (and my organisation) through the challenges we get to undertake.”