A practical leadership program where you implement your idea to improve your community

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and learn, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. There is much we can learn from the oldest continuous culture about how we understand our place on this country, and how we can organise to influence change. I pay my respects to the Elders, past and present, and emerging leaders in the communities we live in, and welcome people from all backgrounds to learn together on this short journey we share.


..to Leadership & Influence!

Leadership and Influence (L&I) aims to give you a wide understanding of styles of leadership and influence, and an opportunity to design and make headway towards implementing a leadership project. Creating real, long-lasting change in the organisations and communities that we care about is challenging. If you engage sufficiently throughout this course, you will develop your values-based repertoire to “lead through influence” so that you can better create change now and into the future.

This is not a course on how to be a leader; this is a course for you to develop, practice and refine your ability to influence change.

Course Activities#

L&I will be divided into two key activities, and culminate in a project showcase:

  • focus in the first half: Workshop series (before mid-semester break), where different models of values-based leadership will be explored, discussed and presented with peer and expert input across ANU
  • focus in the second half: Collaborative Leadership project (after mid-semester break), where students will consider, plan and design a collaborative (either within the course, or collaboratively outside of the class) initiative on campus or in the community

Please note that the course is fairly tailorable to the current cohort, as we work to make this space valuable for the current cohort, take on the feedback from previous cohorts of VC’s Courses and evolve our own practices.

Learning Outcomes#

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Formulate a clear personal repertoire of values-based leadership and models of influence.
  • Evaluate different disciplinary and cultural models of leadership and influence.
  • Demonstrate skills in collaboration and coordination towards common goals in formal and informal settings.
  • Design, implement and evaluate a leadership initiative that enhances a community.
  • Reflect on the nature of leadership and influence in the context of your discipline.

Class and Zoom Room Details#

As we are back to teaching on campus, we will start the class in a ‘In-Person First’ mode; that is, the physical space will be the default classroom, but we also have a Zoom option if it is needed. As we move through semester, we will try and keep the interactions high-value, and will discuss as a class the best way to achieve this.

Go to the Leadership & Influence Zoom Room


We define leadership very broadly to include a wide range of different ways of energising, enabling, influencing and motivating people to pursue collective goals. On this broad definition, change can be achieved with or without formal leadership roles, in one-to-one interactions, in small groups & teams, and (in terms of organisational structures) upwards, downwards, and through covert and overt actions.

The course syllabus is divided into three topics:

  • Change, understanding, generating, responding to and resisting change
  • Collaboration, how to work successfully in a team and to harness (and manage) the diversity in a team
  • Decision-Making, effective decision making processes

There is no way that we could cover all the facets of these topics in a single course, and to focus only on a few areas would censor important viewpoints and perspectives. To this end, we will provide you with a large volume of resources, which we ask you to consciously divide your learning with your peers, and create a social environment where we can learn from each other. This in itself is a distributed form of leadership and demonstrates the trust required to work in an effective collaboration. Some students who are used to having highly scaffolded sequences of learning based on instruction may struggle with this approach to learning, which is based on more intrinsic, adult models of learning. If you are interested in exploring this further, let’s have a conversation about it..

The goal of the first half of the course will be to construct a repertoire of ideas for your ‘leadership toolkit’ on these topics, collectively shared by the class.

A full resource guide is available in the Syllabus


Many leaders operate on intuition, and navigate the problems they encounter without formalised thinking. To effect long-lasting organisational change, we posit that you need to develop a repertoire of thinking that you can use to scaffold how you approach different situations.

Study groups#

Over the first weeks of the course, we will self-organise our learning into small study groups using the following pattern:

Weekly structure for resources

Please check the Timetable for class details. It is expected that you are able to attend all classes (see the note on Attendance).

Workshop on Mondays#

The (pre-)workshops over semester will be an opportunity to learn from others in your study group about the divided resources. It is important that you come to class having completed any preparation so that you can participate fully and we get the benefit of learning from what you have learnt.

We will plan to spend the first hour in small group mode sharing with each other the key ideas and themes from your resources. It will be a combination of reporting back and reflecting on what your have learnt. After reporting back, the second hour will be used to develop your plan for the synthesis workshop. A key part of this activity is developing skills to work together efficiently, and you are encouraged to practice techniques such as timekeeping and taking collaborative notes.

Some key prompts for discussion are:

  • What did the resources teach you about the nature of:
    • leadership and influence
    • creating, exploiting and inhibiting change
    • engaging collaboratively with diverse groups
    • building processes for robust decision-making
    • any other key takeaways
  • How do these examples relate to you, or to your efforts to effect change?
    • are there elements or approaches that you will adapt, adjust, or reject?
    • have there been any ‘aha’ moments in engaging with the resources?
    • how do the examples align or not with your personal experience, or experience of others?
  • How do these resources link to other concepts and resources that you know about?
    • are there parallels you can draw with other resources, or resources in other topics?
    • can you find similarities between the resources other members have engaged with?
    • have you encountered any similar material in more depth elsewhere that might be relevant?
  • Are you unsure about any facet of the resource, and require help from your team to understand the key ideas?
    • is there further investigation you need to do to better understand the key ideas
    • what expertise could you draw upon to help explain and synthesise the material?
    • how can you help facilitate the rest of the class to navigate this material?

Synthesis Workshops on Wednesdays#

The synthesis workshops will focus on the question: “What have you learnt to become a more influential change maker?”.

The first hour will be predominantly student-led based on the outcomes from the Monday workshop, and the second hour will be facilitated by the Course Convenor (if time permits!). See Synthesis Workshop Facilitation for guidance on the student-led component.

Indicative Class Schedule#

Monday class (pre-workshops): Hancock West 2.28
Wednesday class (synthesis workshop): Hancock West 2.28

Week Pre-Workshop Synthesis Workshop Self-Study/Milestones
Wk1 19-Feb
No class
No class

Pick a resource from §1.1
Wk2 26-Feb
Getting to know each other & course
Topic 1.1: Understanding Change sense-making, Project on a Page

Pick a resource from §1.2
Wk3 04-Mar
Topic 1.2: Tools for Change sense-making
Topic 1.2: Tools for Change facilitation

Pick a resource from §2.1, §2.2 and §2.3
Wk4 11-Mar
No class - Public Holiday
Call to Action - Guest workshop

Pick a resource from §2.1, §2.2 and §2.3
Bring Plan on a Page to Tues class
Wk5 18-Mar
Topic 2: Working Together sense-making
Topic 2: Working Together facilitation

Pick a resource from §3.1, §3.2
Wk6 25-Mar
Topic 3: Decision-Making sense-making
Topic 3: Decision-Making facilitation

Pick a resource from §3.1, §3.2
B1 01-Apr
Teaching break
Teaching break

Office hours (if needed)
B2 08-Apr
Teaching break
Teaching break

Office hours (if needed)
Wk7 15-Apr
Project on a Page update
Independent project work

Bring up-to-date Plan-on-a-Page to class
Wk8 22-Apr
Leadership Round Table
Independent project work

Self-organised project work
Wk9 29-Apr
Student Leadership Panel with First-Years
Office hours (if needed)

Self-organised project work
Wk10 06-May
Project Updates
Office hours (if needed)

Self-organised project work
Wk11 13-May
Project Showcase
Office hours (if needed)

Project Summary due Mondayish
Wk12 20-May
Evaluation, Reflection and Next Steps
Office hours (if needed)

Project Reflection due Mondayish

Learning Tasks

There are three key learning tasks in this course:

  1. Synthesis Workshop Facilitation (during first half)
  2. Collaborative Leadership Project (with Project-on-a-Page due Week 4 and Project Summary due Week 11)
  3. Project Reflection (due Week 12)

Please see the completion requirement for each task in the class under each section

Learning Task - Synthesis Workshop Facilitation#

Clearly convey the key concepts of the week’s topic

We will practice a distributed form of leadership by dividing the class into semi-formal study groups, and then dividing the resources between members of the study groups. Study groups will takes turns leading a 20-25 minute facilitation about the resources in the Synthesis Workshop. In the first six weeks, workshops will be used to synthesise material in small groups, and synthesis workshops will be used to share and bring together learning each week. Synthesis workshops may be attended by topic experts as relevant.

Completion Requirement#

To meet this requirements of the class, you must actively contribute to the small group synthesis each of the topics during the Workshop session. Students are expected to lead at least one week’s Synthesis Workshop discussion/activity individually or in groups, and make space for others to lead in an effective collaboration.

Suggestions and advice#

There is no set format for the facilitation. Over the semester, the class will form certain conventions - feel free to build on these, or try something new.

It is recommended that you create a ‘Secret Plan’ for the facilitation. This is a plan detailing:

  • a SMART+ goal (a 1-sentence goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound and Positive) for the facilitation
  • key ideas, concepts and desired learning from the resources
  • how time is planned to be used
  • who is responsible for which aspect, and how any resources required will be employed (ie small-groups, markers, jamboards)
  • clear prompts and instructions for any activities
  • how you plan to extend if activities take less time, and ways to cut the activities short if running over time

Some suggested facilitation methods that VC course alumni have employed are:

  • short presentations (Not lectures! Please avoid presenting more than a couple of slides)
  • world cafe conversations (more information)
  • scenarios and role plays
  • open discussion and debate
  • quizzes (such as Kahoot!)
  • brainstorming and ideation (such as using cards, Miro or a Jamboard)
  • roundtable discussions, where each participant contributes with equal time
  • games, simulations and other interactive activities

Learning Task - Leadership Project#

Make headway on a plan for change

Over the semester, but especially in the last half, you will make significant headway on a collaborative project. The scope of the project is to design an intervention that will lead to meaningful, ongoing change: we do not expect that the project will deliver on its full potential during the semester.

Often there is overlap in projects between students. You can undertake the project individually, collaborate as a pair or group, or in a coordinated way as needed.

Project Ideas#

Anyone can have a great idea, but in the interest of developing meaningful change, we encourage you to align your project ideas to strategic directions of the organisation you are working with (for example, within the university, please see ANU by 2025).

The ANU Below Zero Strategic Initiative has kindly partnered with this course, and opportunities that work towards their goals are encouraged. However, you may propose your own ideas to implement, or workshop ideas with ANU staff involved in your community. A list of key ANU staff and units are listed on the VC’s Courses Website. You may like to reach out to these units for project ideas, or throughout the course.

Completion Requirement#

A “Project-on-a-Page” is due by Week 4 to help guide your project over the semester (available on Wattle).

In Week 11, you will present your Collaborative Leadership Project by sharing a Project Summary. A class Sharepoint site will be created to share projects with details of the project. The Project Summary should be equivalent to 2-pages, but may take a form that is appropriate for the project. There may be value in packaging up information (ie preparation, background research, analysis, photos) to supplement the Project Summary.

Suggestions and Advice#

There is no fixed template to show the Leadership Project. A good starting point is the plan-on-a-page, though this may be tailored as appropriate. The organisation you are working with may have an internal process for proposing a project or developing a business case. It would be valuable for your experience to follow and tailor these processes for your project.

Each project will cover different topics, but a place to start could be considering the following prompts. These are not required, and should be tailored to your situation:

  • Identification of project aims and goals
  • An outline of roles and responsibilities of participants and stakeholders
  • An indication of stakeholders or other project-enabling resources
  • An indicative timeline of milestones or project phases
  • A contingency plan in case milestones are not or cannot be met, or stretch goals
  • Consideration of how difficult or sensitive situations could be resolved
  • A risk assessment for aspects of your project
  • An indication of your shared expectations for the project
  • Identification of any resources required for the successful completion of your project
  • An indication of handover processes and artefacts, describing the exit conditions for your work within the scope of the project
  • Evidence of any work to date
  • How information is shared across project life-cycles, such as handover information

As an indication, a minimum of approximately 2-pages or a 2-minute pitch is needed. Projects will be at varying levels of maturity, and may have more detail to be explored.

Learning Task - Learning Reflection#

In addition to sharing your Project Summary, you will be required to complete a Learning Reflection. Reflect on the learning outcomes for this course in relation to your project. This will be the equivalent of two pages, but it may take different forms (such as video, audio, multimedia).

Completion Requirement#

An assignment submission will be made available for submission.

Suggestions and Advice#

The purpose of the Learning Reflection is to reflect on your learning through the course as a launching point for the next phase of your leadership journey. It should not be a mere retelling of what happened, but should include insights about relating and applying your leadership skills, identify your contribution to the Project and other aspects of the class, and most importantly demonstrate your learning against the learning outcomes.

This task should be built-up over the semester. Some formats students have used in the past include: learning journals, blogs, opinion pieces, job applications and selection criteria, letters to future students, reflective essays, and photo essays. You can present this in any media format, including written formats, video or audio, or any other format you believe appropriate to reflect on your experience. If there are confidential elements, please discuss this with the Course Convenor.

In line with the course learning outcomes, some useful prompts include:

  • what is your personal repertoire of values-based leadership, and how has this changed over the semester?
  • how has working across disciplines and cultures changed your understanding of leadership and influence?
  • what skills in collaboration and coordination towards common goals have you developed through the course?
  • what long-lasting change have you achieved, or do you think will arise, as a result of your leadership project?
  • what does it mean to be a leader in the context of your discipline?

Academic standards#

Academic disciplines have different sets of standards that can be difficult to navigate for students when working outside of your disciplines. As a learning environment that aims to be interdisciplinary, and at times perhaps antedisciplinary, there are some general guides on how we can operate in our shared learning.

On Grading..#

Upon successful completion of L&I, students will be awarded a grade of ‘CRS’ (course requirements satisfied). This is not merely a ‘pass/fail’; it is to recognise that students are intrinsically determined to effect change and to alleviate the pressure that grades place on creating change that is outside of your control. The academic quality and commitment to the work needs to meet the ‘Superior’ description in the ANU’s Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy; that is, your work should be at a Distinction level, and we will work with you to make it so.

On Collaboration..#

Learning is a social activity, and we encourage collective development of ideas and for you to contribute to projects, the understanding of content, and design of activities collaboratively. In fact, it is a learning outcome of this course. However, care should be taken to ensure that collaboration is not confused with plagiarism. Please ensure that you uphold academic standards by acknowledging the contribution of others, and citing others where appropriate.

On Referencing..#

There is no set referencing style for this course. We encourage you to use the referencing conventions of your discipline, or the referencing conventions of the medium you are using. For example, it would be strange to see APA style in a video format, or links in an essay format.

On Attendance..#

There is a high dependence on contribution in this course, and it is expected that you attend scheduled activities. If you are unable to attend, you will be noticed and missed. If you cannot attend a session, please notify the Course Convenor. If this happens more than once, the Course Convenor will organise to meet you to discuss options, such as withdrawing from the class.

Other Class Policies..#

The ANU uses a ‘Class Summary’ to describe relevant class policies. Many of these are boilerplate statements, but contain useful guidance on where to find help when needed. You can find this course’s class summary at Programs & Courses, by clicking the ‘Class’ tab, navigating to this year, and clicking ‘View’.


Dr Chris Browne (he/him)
Convenor, ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Courses

My office is located in the Centre for Learning and Teaching, 10T1. You can book a time with me (by Zoom or in person) by sending an Outlook invite when I am free (during business hours). Please feel free to get in touch the course, or about whatever is on your mind.


I (Chris) would like to acknowledge the contribution of Gabriele Bammer, Professor in the National Centre for Epidimiology and Population Health, and curator of the popular Integration and Implementation Inisghts (i2Insights) blog (https://i2Insights.org/). Gabriele has been pivotal in the development interdisciplinary practice at ANU, and will regularly join us in Leadership & Influence.

I would also like to acknowledge previous convenors of this course for the many conversations, student presentations, and meaningful change they have created with their students: Giles Hirst, Professor of Leadership in the ANU Research School of Management and Richard Baker, Em. Professor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, who was pivotal in creating the VC’s Courses.


Over the course of the semester, there might be a few updates to this resource. Below are the key changes:

  • 26 Feb: Corrected display of dates in calendar; removed html error
  • 30 Jan: 2024 Version
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