Welcome to the Academy of Adaptive Leadership

Leadership for our times.

Adjunct Professor Farayi Chipungu, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Our complex world needs a new approach to leadership now more than ever. An approach that brings together collective action and isn’t afraid to experiment with bold, new ideas.  

We provide research, coaching and bespoke training to help leaders adopt and implement adaptive leadership practices so they can thrive in turbulent times, help societies make progress and advance communities and opportunities within – and between – their jurisdictions. 

What is adaptive leadership?

In a fast-paced, complicated environment, change initiatives need to succeed. 

Yet too many of them fail.

And often, it is because people diagnose problems incorrectly and try to apply the wrong solution.   

An adaptive leadership model offers tools and a framework to help leaders correctly identify problems and apply the right approach to tackle them. Based on more than 40 years of research, it develops leaders’ capacity to respond to complex adaptive challenges and mobilise people to make progress on these issues.

Why adaptive leadership

Traditional fixes won’t help our communities tackle today’s problems.

Mainstream leadership frameworks often rely on a top-down approach, designed for technical challenges easily solved through resources, expertise and money. 

But our societies are facing much deeper and more complex challenges that require deep listening, engagement, empathy and collaboration. 

Adaptive leadership helps organisations face complex challenges head-on by:

  • Viewing leadership as a practice, not a position
  • Shifting leadership from domination and control towards collaboration and care 
  • Requiring everyone to play a part in making progress on difficult challenges
  • Adding to a leader’s repertoire, rather than replacing available tools
  • Emphasising contextual awareness, diagnosis and curiosity rather than solutions
  • Encouraging both strategic and operational thinking
  • Embracing diverse thinking and experiences to unlock new perspectives
  • Giving leaders confidence to sort through the messy complexities of the world

Adaptive leadership encourages us to slow down so we can hurry up – and provides deliberate, thoughtful ways to reframe our routines and bring mindfulness to our actions and assumptions. And by seeking out progress rather than solutions, it allows for innovation and strategy to emerge.

What we do

At the Academy of Adaptive Leadership, we empower today’s leaders to take a more holistic view when addressing modern-day challenges. 

We provide a one-stop shop to help private, public and civil sectors in the Indo-Pacific region respectfully harness the best of different cultures, genders and histories and forge new ways of making progress through adaptive leadership.

Based at the University of New South Wales (Canberra) and Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW Sydney), we provide research, education, curriculum development and bespoke training options.

If you are facing messy, complex challenges, talk to us today.
Email: adaptiveleadership@unsw.edu.au

How we work

We partner with the global founders and leading experts of adaptive leadership at Harvard University, including Professors Ron Heifetz, Marty Linsky and Farayi Chipungu, as well as the award-winning Kansas Leadership Center and previous Harvard-KSG visiting faculty Maxime Fern and Dr. Michael Johnstone.

Our faculty, staff and coaches have deep expertise and experience in adaptive leadership practice and scholarship. We build off this combined wisdom of long-standing adaptive leadership practitioners and newly emerging adaptive leadership innovators. We are proud to partner with founders and members of the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute (AALI) and Adaptive Leadership Australia (ALA).

Contact Us:

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about The Academy of Adaptive Leadership at UNSW, please contact Anya Holzman.

Email: adaptiveleadership@unsw.edu.au

Learn more about the Advanced Adaptive Leadership Program

This unique three-day immersion program will allow you to seize new opportunities and create real and meaningful impact for your organisation – regardless of the challenges ahead.

Read more about Adaptive Leadership

Who we are

Professor Deborah Blackman

Deborah, Head of School & a member of the Public Service Research Group, in the School of Business at UNSW, Canberra. Her research covers Public Sector Policy Implementation, Systems Level change, Employee Performance Management, Organisational Learning; Soft Knowledge Management, Organisational Effectiveness, Psychological Contract & Governance.
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Professor Ronald Heifetz

Ronald is among the world’s foremost authorities on the practice and teaching of leadership. He speaks extensively and advises heads of governments, businesses, and non-profit organisations across the globe. Heifetz founded the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School where he has taught for nearly four decades.

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Professor Farayi Chipungu

Farayi is Adjunct Lecturer, The Harvard Kennedy School of Government & teaches courses at Harvard Law School. Her focus is on leadership, change management & innovation. She is the faculty chair for the Adaptive Leadership: Lawyers Driving Change program at Harvard Law School & the Women & Power program at The Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
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Professor Catherine Althaus

Catherine is ANZSOG Deputy Dean (Teaching and Learning) and ANZSOG Professorial Chair of Public Service Leadership and Reform at UNSW Canberra. She gained her adaptive leadership facilitator and coaching training and certification from the Kansas Leadership Centre, a worldwide leader in adaptive leadership for the public and non-profit sector.
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Dr Shibaab Rahman

Shibaab is a lecturer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra. His research interests lie at the intersection of public administration and organisation theory. also has expertise in public sector leadership and leadership education in general.
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Max Rixe

Max is a leadership consultant based in Canberra. He gained his adaptive leadership training from the Kansas Leadership Centre, a worldwide leader in adaptive leadership for the public and non-profit sector. Max strongly believes that leadership is an act; not a position, and that it can be demonstrated by anyone.
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Dr Samantha Johnson

Samantha is a behavioural scientist with the School of Business, UNSW Canberra where she teaches leadership at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Her teaching focus is on guiding students to understand threshold concepts in leadership and to develop as leaders.
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Maxime Fern

Maxime Fern is known in the global adaptive community for her contribution to the original Harvard Kennedy School program, the Art and Practice of Leadership Development, commonly known as APL. She taught in this program with Marty Linsky and Ron Heifetz for over 15 years and is inaugural faculty of the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute.
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Michael Johnstone

Michael Johnstone is known in the global adaptive community for his contribution to the original Harvard Kennedy School program, the Art and Practice of Leadership Development, commonly known as APL. He taught in this program with Marty Linsky & Ron Heifetz for over 15 years and is inaugural faculty of the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute.
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Rosamund Christie

Rosamund is a leading practitioner of Adaptive Leadership in Australia and an experienced practitioner of Case-in-Point methodology, revealing in real time the play of dynamics in a system and providing participants with insight and skill to manage themselves and the organisational context they are leading.
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Saul Brown

Saul is a consultant & educator with expertise across strategy, organisation and leadership. His unique value lies in helping organisations achieve high performance in both business & human domains concurrently as a source of competitive advantage. Saul is a graduate of & adjunct faculty member at the Australian Graduate School of Management UNSW.
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Dr. Vindhya Weeratunga

Vindhya (Vindy) Weeratunga is a Lecturer in the School of Business at UNSW Canberra. She holds a PhD in Management from the University of New South Wales. Vindy is an HR practitioner / CEO turned academic. She is a mixed-methods researcher, and her research interests include employee engagement, employee well-being, and the future of work.
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Mark Madden

Mark aims to assist people and organisations to manage change and growth, for the better. The principles and competencies of adaptive leadership have informed his work in management, change management, strategic planning and communications, policy development and implementation and governance in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
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Andrew Williams

Andrew has worked in the adaptive leadership space for over 10 years. He started his journey at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and was then accredited as a Master Practitioner in the Case in Point at the Kansas Leadership Centre. He teaches the adaptive leadership framework and concepts in his work as an Adjunct Faculty at the AGSM.
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Denise Weinreis

Denise is an AGSM Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor who specialises in coaching executives and teams to enhance their personal energy, leadership, and performance. Denise teaches on a number of programs in the UNSW Business School, including the AGSM MBA (full-time and executive) and AGSM Open and Custom Executive programs.
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Wendy Gould

Wendy is an experienced Program Director, Executive Coach, and human behavioural practitioner with success in the Defence industry. A Logistician by profession, Wendy is skilled in complex Operations Management, Operational Logistics Planning and Execution, Organisational Leadership, Leader and Team development and Organisational Culture Reform.
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Claire McKendrick

Claire has been applying adaptive leadership practices for a decade as a facilitator, coach, and consultant and from positional leadership working as an executive in the public sector. She trained in case-in-point facilitation with the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute.
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Julia Fabris McBride

Julia Fabris McBride is chief leadership development officer at the Kansas Leadership Center, where more than 15,000 people around the world have attended programs since 2007. A certified coach, former actor and co-author of When Everyone Leads, Julia splits her time between Wichita and Matfield Green, Kansas.

Dr Alison Beamish

Dr Alison Beamish is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Presently her research focuses on Adaptive Leadership, however, her expertise extends to Servant Leadership and Abusive Supervision. Alison's interests include how leadership behaviours have lasting effects on a leader's health and wellbeing.

Dianne van Meegen

Dianne van Meegen (Di) is a Principal of Directions for Change. She has extensive experience as coach, facilitator and designer of learning design and delivery for APS agencies. Much of her work over the last ten years has been based on adaptive leadership concepts and practice.

Robyne Blood

Robyne is an experienced Organisational Development, Change, and Leadership consultant, formerly with McKinsey, based in New Zealand. She specialises in multi-year interventions and has worked with renowned organisations globally. Her practical experience and role in driving systemic change enhance her credentials.

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Rudi Doku

Rudi Doku is a Leadership Facilitator and Executive Coach who has spent more than ten years working across five continents sharing his deep passion and expertise is accelerating the advancement of executives. Rudi is a graduate of Adaptive Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School and Kansas Leadership Centre.

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Professor Nick Wailes

Professor Nick Wailes is the Senior Deputy Dean (External Engagement) at UNSW Business School, and Director AGSM. Professor Wailes is the architect of the online MBAX, and his research focuses on the impact of technology on organisations. He teaches and consults in the areas of strategy, leadership and digital transformation.

Dr Maurizio Floris

Maurizio is Director for AGSM’s MBA Executive and online MBAX and has led many leadership programs. His research focused on how project professionals develop the cognitive and emotional capacity to deal with adaptive challenges. He is also alumnus of the Harvard KSG Masterclass on Adaptive Leadership.

Tracey Flynn

Tracey is an experienced Client Director, with more than 10 years’ experience as a key account director at the AGSM for a diverse portfolio of clients.  She has proven experience in understanding, managing and partnering with stakeholders to deliver consistent, sustainable and innovative business outcomes through learning and development.
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