2013: The Year in Review

Changing thinking

2013: A Year of ChangeWith a new brand identity and a much clearer, stronger public presence—in the media, at conferences, in our new book, and through our own blogs and events—2013 was the year Social Leadership Australia reached out to a whole new audience with some big ideas about what it means to lead in this country—and what we want from our leaders, and ourselves.

Our new book – The Australian Leadership Paradox – What it takes to lead in the lucky country, which was launched by the ABC’s Geraldine Doogue in Sydney on 30 July and later broadcast nationally on Saturday Extra, is the culmination of the development of our thinking and practice over the past fifteen years. Over 1200 people participated in one of several launches, events and breakfast workshops we held across Australia in 2013, and we reached many thousands more through several TV, radio interviews and press reviews. Check out our TEDx Talk and this latest review, for a bit of a taste of the action.

Australia has a leadership problem, but it also has a great leadership opportunity. And the more we can share these ideas and experience, the more we can all learn and develop different ways of working—together. So it’s great to see our alumni and our broader leadership community growing through these events and other opportunities to engage with us.

Guy Downes' amazing documentation of our Innovation workshopChanging practice

The theme of Collaboration has been core to our approach since 1999. While Social Leadership Australia has evolved how we work and what we do, our core philosophy and belief that we need all sectors/areas of society to work together better and differently to bring combined wisdom has prevailed. This is the core work of leadership: how we work with purpose and our power to work with and across difference. It’s Australia’s core leadership challenge – and it’s outlined in our book.

  • 2013 saw this kick off with a Collaboration Masterclass co-delivered with international facilitator and Process Work expert, Dr Julie Diamond, which was a year in development. We saw there was a need, a demand and an interest in honing this skill alone to work better together, and we were right.
  • Collaboration is now positioned in the forthcoming Collective Impact 2014 conference, created in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact. We see this as a framework with the development of our capacity to collaborate the missing link.

As Social Leadership Australia's Principal Consultant, Liz Skelton, says, “I’m struck by the similarity of the challenge of collaboration, regardless of sector. It feels like we are in a moment where there is opportunity in the constraint. The question is, how do we seize it?”

Changing Leaders

A crowd begins to gather at our book lunch in JulyIt was another huge year of teaching for Social Leadership Australian in 2013, with 590 people participating in one of 23 open enrolment and customised programs, from our new short masterclasses to our regional intensives in Queensland, to our year-long flagship Sydney Leadership program.

None of these powerful and impactful programs would have been possible without the support of our very generous program sponsors:

• Australian Scholarships Foundation
• Baly Douglass Foundation
• Hugh Micah Taylor Scholarship
• Johnson & Johnson Medical
• NSW Department of Health
• Origin Foundation
• Queensland Department of Premier & Cabinet
• Slingsby Foundation
• Tim Fairfax Family Foundation

as well as other anonymous donors. Thank you.

Leading Change

Social Leadership Australia continued to bring its leadership work into a diversity of organisations in 2013, with an increasing focus on working with people on difficult issues, or in a place which is grappling with change. We continued our work with senior executives at the National Australia Bank as well as working with a group at Johnson & Johnson Medical. We worked with a large cohort of leaders coming to grips with the NSW homelessness sector reform at the initiative of Housing NSW and NSW Federation of Housing Associations. We were again a part of the Desert Leadership program in Alice Springs with Desert Knowledge Australia and we continued our work with a core group from our Headland Indigenous Leaders program. (The result of this is a new publication and a new cross-cultural leadership program for 2014 … but more on that later.)

Changed Leaders

As the numbers of Social Leadership Australia alumni continue to grow, our regular alumni get-togethers (‘Communities of Practice’) have provided us opportunities to reflect and continue our learning together. We have also been working more closely with alumni on creating our community days as part of our programs.

In many ways it is our alumni who are most important to Social Leadership Australia. You are the ones who really make the difference. Your stories continue to inspire us all.


Much is in development for next year. We know we can make a real difference when people are working live on an issue, where the stakes are high and we are exciting to be experimenting where we can have more impact. Don't miss: