Leading through uncertainty

A unique framework for leaders in the education sector to manage turbulence, optimise risk and take decisive action.

We are amid a significant shift in how educators and professional staff address the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. These changes are already rewriting the future of how we conduct business in the education sector.

Advanced educational leadership empowers great schools to thrive and all schools to transform. Business-as-usual no longer exists. School leaders understand they must embrace the significant changes underway and equip their staff with the necessary skills to be resilient and thrive in uncertain times.

School leaders can leverage from the lessons learned during the ongoing crisis and build capability and resilience for a sustainable future. Investing in yourself, your people, and their professional development is essential as we move our teams and organisations forward.

This program is designed for school leaders, educators and non-teaching staff who recognise the value and importance of effective leadership.

Build your business skill set, guided by our study mindset

Leading Through Uncertainty is an opportunity to update skills quickly to ensure you manage turbulence, optimise risk and take decisive action.

This exceptional short course consists of four complementary modules. It is a rigorous, practical program grounded in best practice and backed by research. Each module is led by an expert with extensive knowledge and significant experience.

Given the challenges and uncertainty surrounding the current COVID situation, our Leading Through Uncertainty short course delivery dates have changed and the course will now take place in October 2021.
Leaders from the education sector will join participants from a range of industries offering rich diversity of thought and additional networking opportunities. To reserve your place, click on the registration link below and enter your School Association name in the space provided.

Date: 31 August 2021
Pre-work: 1 – 2 hours
Intensive: 3.5 hours, commencing 9.30am
Assessment: Optional

We are social beings. Isolation and sadness need to be actively managed through encouraging employees to develop personal regimes. Exercise from home, meditation and making sure that managers reach out and talk (even if that socialisation takes place virtually) to make sure employees are engaged, mentally relaxed and productive.

As time passes, workers may find that they like the flexibility of not commuting every day and may be interested in making their own self-selection to work from home continuously. A checklist of processes and incentives will be provided to help allow for that flexibility.

The COVID-19 crisis amplifies reasons why people dislike change. Loss of control, excess uncertainty, surprises, routine disruption, competence concerns, ripple effects from someone else’s disruption and threats to future plans.

It’s important that staff feel that there is something positive they can do to be useful and regain some control over routines and skills. Renewing and reinforcing effective workplace practices will make a big difference to productivity and wellbeing of staff.

Key module content includes:

  • effective coping strategies
  • managing stress and negative feelings
  • self-compassion
  • abundant communication: regular briefings, as it relates to uncertainty
  • communication from many levels, town hall dialogues
  • flexible work schedules, start and stop times that fit life needs
  • performance and fulfillment at work.

Date: 24 August 2021
Pre-work: 2 hours
Intensive: 3.5 hours commencing 9.30am
Assessment: Optional

If there was ever a time to understand and apply systems practice and systems thinking, it’s now. The challenges of leadership and decision making across the education industry are increasingly complex through the multitude of diverse impacts initiated by disruptions like the pandemic and regulation changes, affecting every aspect of learning. As such, a framework for critical decision-making has formed the core of this module and the entire course.

Operating in silos and only paying attention to a few stakeholders leads to vulnerability. Schools operate in an ecosystem, a disruption to one sector or set of activities ripples to others.

Schools with connected stakeholder and partner orientations are best able to survive and transcend crises, because they can plan together, gain local knowledge from each other and draw on good will to grow sustainably.

A global pandemic clarifies educations' interest in contributing to solving ‘common good’ problems, such as the adequacy of the public health system; disparities in rural and remote communities; availability of emergency child care; universal broadband access; or educating people in life skills such as resiliency and innovation alongside technology skills.

Past participants have applied systemic thinking to issues of timetabling, campus merger, fees, student support, team building and parent engagement

Key module content includes:

  • getting to know systems thinking and its techniques for applications in education
  • a framework for navigating uncertainty
  • indicators for monitoring organisational vulnerability /resilience
  • building organisational trust through intentional coherent relationships.

Date: 25 August 2021
Pre-work: 1 hour
Intensive: 3.5 hours, commencing 9.30am
Assessment: Optional

In volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) operating environments, the need to both mitigate and take risks is critical to success.

As schools and organisations move in and out of lockdown and seek to minimise risk, they may be inadvertently missing out on opportunities. Future organisational capabilities include a deep understanding of human psychology that balances risk-aversion and risk-taking.

The individual and school's capacity to both master the skill of mitigating risk while leveraging opportunity will be a critical differentiator in the months and years ahead.

This module focuses on the importance of the non-conscious in judgement and decision making, and its importance in the capitalisation of risk. An introduction to the social psychology of risk and how judgement and decision making are affected by social arrangements is also examined.

Key module content includes:

  • risk and social complexity in a networked age
  • creating a dynamic risk equilibrium (DRE)
  • understanding the principles of behavioural economics
  • evaluating the role of the nonconscious in decision making as it relates to uncertainty
  • psychological principles and the risk effects on the relationship between self and others.

Embracing a Human Centred Leadership style fundamentally allows leaders to pivot their direction from being focused on tasks, processes and outcomes performed by people, to one where people are thinking well and performing actions collaboratively to achieve tasks, processes and outcomes.

In the predictable and less complex Industrial Era people were expected to follow instructions accurately and consistently, while thinking was largely unnecessary or discouraged. Now, in the less-predictable VUCA Era accurate and consistent instructions are challenging, requiring leaders to have advanced thinking capabilities to lead thinking people.

Human Centred Leadership adds knowledge and practical applications translated from the Humanities, Psychology and Sociology to an already accomplished business leader’s capabilities, enabling them to meet the fundamental new demands of the VUCA Era.

This module introduces three critical thinking capabilities leaders now need: how motivation and self-determination is different; understanding influencing in high collaborative environments; and the seminal role empathy now plays - everywhere.

Leading through uncertain times requires a different approach, to better lead people in a very different environment. Human Centred Leadership proposes there are, in reality, two separate “environments”: the shared external circumstances of the world and the pure feeling of uncertainty that is unique to every person in their own mind. Leaders are in effect leading across two different domains and need to be proficient in both. In reality there’s a third domain; their own uncertainty and thinking.

Key module content includes:

  • self-determination, motivation and well-being
  • influencing, changing mindsets and mental agility
  • empathy, communities and authority.

This exceptional course is a rigorous, practical program grounded in best practice and backed by research. It is an executive level course ideal for principals, senior decision makers and experienced leaders in the education sector. Participants are expected to have significant experience in a leadership or management role.


Delivery mode


Module one


Wednesday 6 October 2021

Module two


Thursday 7 October 2021

Module three


Tuesday 12 October 2021

Module four


Thursday 14 October 2021

Full course: A$2,195 +GST per person, for association members.

Program assessment (optional): $363.64 + GST (per person)

Upon successful completion of the assessment criteria in all four modules participants can apply to gain credit for one elective unit in our Executive MBA*.

*Conditions apply

Please note, this is an on-demand program. The program will proceed on the above dates if minimum number requirements are met.

Bruce Mckenzie

Bruce McKenzie is a change practitioner and academic. He develops systemic thinking principles and practices to assist organisations, governments and communities address their transformational goals to improve productivity, relevance and alignment in a changing world. He is one of the world’s most experienced systemic practitioners. Recognised globally for successfully building organisational capacity to initiate and manage change, through generating innovative, sustainable strategies and developing alternative ways of thinking about challenges and crisis. He is a director of the Center for Systemic Leadership and a pioneer of WindTunneling software and Fulcrum online learning.

Magali Goirand

Magali Goirand is a consultant, learning facilitator and researcher. She weaves systemics thinking through the enablement programs she leads and develops and facilitates applied systemics learning programs. She has worked with small and large international high-tech organisations in Europe and the U.S. Her background in science, technology and business allows her to navigate these communities with ease. As a learning and development professional, she has an extensive facilitation experience fostering collaborative learning. She is a PhD candidate in health innovation at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia researching the ethics of artificial intelligence applied to healthcare.

Dr Gavriel Schneider

Dr Gav Schneider is the Course Director for ACU’s Graduate Certificate in Psychology of Risk and CEO of Risk2Solution Group. He is an acknowledged subject matter expert on integrated and human centric risk management, safety, emergency, crisis management and security, with extensive senior level management and leadership experience. He has extensive operational and consulting experience in over 17 countries for a wide base of blue-chip clients including government departments and related agencies, multinational corporations and high net worth individuals. Dr Schneider is the RMIA Risk Consultant of the Year 2019 and is an IFSEC Top Twenty Global Influencer for Thought Leadership

Professor Joseph Ciarrochi

Joseph Ciarrochi is a professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at ACU. He has published over 150 scientific journal articles and is a highly sought after speaker and best-selling author. He has been honoured with over four million dollars in research funding. His work has been discussed on TV, in magazines, newspaper articles, and on radio. Joseph’s research focuses on identifying how to help people develop flexible strength (also termed psychological flexibility). The psychological skills that support flexible strength have been given many labels, including mindfulness, emotional awareness, value clarity, self-compassion, growth mindset, creativity, willpower, resilience, persistence, and grit.

Errol Benvie

Errol’s first career spanned almost three decades in a broad variety of complex organisational leadership and CEO roles. In his second career, Errol returns to organisations to offer his clients the things he wished for in his roles, plus what he never knew he could have had. For over a decade, Errol and a small cohort of like-minded practitioners and their clients have accumulated deep knowledge on how to implement research into applied psychology for the benefit of senior executives. Errol has developed and directed leadership programs for global clients and leading business schools.

Reserve your place today

If you’re ready to strengthen your leadership skills, please reserve your place today.


More information

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Register your interest

For more information or to discuss this program contact Executive Education at executiveeducation@acu.edu.au or call +61 2 9739 2652.

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