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Executive Leadership Course

Ben Roulston

By Ben Roulston, Thinka Co-founder,
1 January 2024

Thinka’s Executive Leadership Programs Get Results

The goal of this executive leadership course is to explore relationships, dig into issues and resolve any persistent challenges. By creating space away from the everyday work environment to go deep, trained facilitators encourage honesty, breakthroughs and transformation.

The day was an absolute success. We were concerned that there was going to be variable by in by the team, but early on in the day it was clear everyone was engaged, and the feedback afterwards was overwhelmingly positive.

Bendigo Health
Program Purpose

Empowering senior and executive leaders to develop their leadership style and executive presence is crucial to business success. This Executive Leadership Program is designed to help leaders in all industries uplift leadership capabilities, while dismantling the barriers that hold them back. Whether your leaders are just starting out in senior positions or have been in these positions for some time, our program helps with competencies like problem solving, innovation and strategic foresight.

Working with organisations across Australia, we know that senior and executive leaders face unique challenges. Here’s a few of them:

  1. Managing multiple stakeholders: Senior leaders often have to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders, including customers, shareholders and employees. In today’s fast-paced business environment, leaders must adapt to constantly changing circumstances and, at the same time, service all stakeholders.
  2. Work-life balance: Balancing work and personal responsibilities is challenging for most people, but senior and executive leaders are more likely to juggle competing priorities. Managing commitments and priorities across career and home can make it hard for senior leaders to establish work-life balance, leading to feelings of stress and fatigue.
  3. “Imposter syndrome”: Some newly-promoted senior and executive leaders might experience imposter syndrome, or the feeling that they are not qualified and have sufficient leadership capability or competencies in their roles. This can lead to self-doubt, ‘second-guessing’ and affect their confidence.
  4. Lack of representation: Leaders who are women, people of colour, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face significantly more challenges in accessing opportunities and being heard. Leaders over the age of 55, people with disabilities, and who are part of the LGBTIQA+ community, also face unique challenges when trying to access or settle into senior leadership teams as well.
  5. Complex macro environment: Senior leaders are dealing with rapid technological change, a fluctuating economy, and rising expectations from organisations. Senior and executive leadership teams must adapt constantly and be aware of change before it happens. Skills in adaptability and strategic leadership need to be applied frequently – and often – in response to uncertain and complex conditions.

Overall, these challenges can make it difficult for senior leaders when leading change and implementing key strategic initiatives. However, with the right support such as a tailored Executive Leadership Program and coaching sessions, senior leaders can overcome these barriers and build supportive relationships to make change together.

Program Benefits

With the help of the Executive Leadership Program, leaders will explore these fundamentals to enhance their leadership capability:

  1. Self-awareness: Self-awareness involves the ability to recognise and manage one’s own emotions, to improve relationships with others. Leaders can improve their self-awareness by engaging in self-reflection, by seeking feedback from others, by accessing mentoring, and by developing empathy for those around them.
  2. Conflict resolution: Conflict can arise when there are different personalities and perspectives in an executive team, but effective leaders use initiatives to manage conflicts in a constructive way. Senior leaders can improve this skill by identifying the root causes of conflicts, staying calm and objective in heated situations, and by applying skills in complex problem solving.
  3. Influence: Influence is a critical skill for executive and senior leaders, as they will need to successfully persuade employees to execute on strategic objectives. Leaders can develop their influencing skills by engaging in empathy for others, developing a range of influencing strategies, and by cultivating an adaptive communication style.
  4. Strategic leadership ability: Effective leaders can think strategically; anticipating challenges and opportunities and developing plans to address them. Leaders can improve their strategic leadership ability by fostering a ‘growth mindset’, staying informed about industry trends and developments, and challenging norms with more viable alternatives or initiatives. Adaptability is key.
  5. Decision making: Effective leaders make thoughtful, well-considered decisions that they can communicate with confidence. Leaders can build this this leadership capability by gathering different perspectives, researching and establishing best practice, and by building a sound business case for decisions.

By developing competencies in these practical skills, senior and executive leaders can increase their levels of self-awareness and enhance their leadership capabilities.

Program FAQs

What is an Executive Leadership Program?

Our Executive Leadership Program is a professional development course specifically designed to support those in senior leadership positions. It aims to provide participants with the skills, tools, resources and confidence necessary to succeed in leadership roles. Our specialist facilitators have worked with many leaders across Australia and draw from these experiences to offer meaningful advice, practical strategies, and case studies to learn from.

Why should my organisation offer an Executive Leadership Program?

Being part of the executive leadership program can help senior leaders develop skills, access mentoring and build partnerships across a supportive community of peers. It can also help participants to break down stereotypes and barriers that might otherwise hold them back from fully embracing senior management positions. The networking opportunities are crucial to helping leaders help each other.

Who can attend an Executive Leadership Program?

This Executive Leadership Program is designed for senior leaders entering into or who are part of a senior executive management team. The skills we focus on build competencies in tackling strategic and organisational matters, as well as building ‘executive presence’.

Are Executive Leadership Programs only available in person?

Our Executive Leadership Program can be delivered in in-person or as online learning – depending on the organisation’s set-up. It is typically made up of a series of workshops and/or webinars with case studies to support on the job application. Often these are complemented by executive coaching sessions with a Thinka coach. Coaching plays an important role in challenging old behaviours and building fresh confidence and leadership capability in each of the participants. Organisations might also opt for a blended program that makes use of eLearning modules and other forms of media.

Program Case Study

Struber, Senior Leaders Forum, 2022

1. What was the objective?

Struber delivered a Senior Leaders Forum for 15 leaders in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, over three days – focusing on empowerment, growth and elevating leadership capability. They branded this event ‘Kulin – Brighter, Bolder, Better Getaway’. Struber enlisted Thinka’s help to deliver two workshop experiences on two days exploring two competencies: ‘Leading Self’ and ‘Empowering Others’.

2. How did we do it?

For the ‘Leading Self’ workshop, we talked about self awareness and leading with vulnerability. We also explored the importance of building trust with your team to elevate performance, promote empathy and demonstrate emotional agility.

Participants reflected on their personal leadership brand and how this reflects their priorities, values and promises they make. This was followed by an activity and the establishing of commitments where each senior leader identified initiatives they would be responsible for and their accountability to these.

Throughout this workshop, the learning activities and language linked back to Struber’s ‘Seven Mantras’. Application tools were provided as takeaway references to help participants practise and apply these leadership skills on the job.

In the ‘Empower Others’ workshop, leaders learned about cultivating psychological safety to build trust in their teams. They realised the differences between managing and leading – to push past ‘manager-mode’ and elevate capability.

Senior leaders learned about empowering others to build ‘Impact Players’ – leaders who stretch themselves to deliver results. They explored giving feedback, problem solving and taking ownership and responsibility – while creating an environment of ‘safety and stretch’.

3. How was it integrated and what were the results?

The workshops were facilitated over three days with positive results. Feedback from participants included:

“I loved it. I wish it was longer!”

“Loved the facilitators. They were engaging and gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions.”

“I think it was a great balance of content and workshop.”

“Loved the whole thing. There was an amazing vibe in the room.”

Example program

4 day intensive

Transformative retreat

Prior to retreat:
Diagnostic tool (if this has not been completed previously) or 360 degree feedback

Day 1
Meet and greet
Session 1 – Welcome activity & debrief of diagnostic/feedback
Session 2 – Structured deep reflection activity

Day 2
Session 3 – Group experiential activity (to reveal bias, assumptions, issues)
Session 4 – Group discussion to debrief activity

Day 3
Session 5 – 1:1 coaching (to explore behaviour, diagnostic and/or feedback)
Session 6 – Group discussion (to highlight people’s values, communication styles, new understandings etc)

Day 4
Session 6 – Group experiential activity (to open up new ways to communicate, problem solve, see other perspectives etc)
Session 7 – Key themes and establishing of commitments

After retreat:
Executive group applies commitments and evaluates level of development in due course

PROGRAM Outline

Delivery Options

In Person Program

In Person

Key Outcomes

1. Executive leaders who develop greater self-awareness.

2. Executive leaders who confront their own biases and assumptions.

3. Executive leaders who can accept responsibility for how they’re showing up.

4. Executive leaders who have strategies for dealing with relationship problems and issues.

5. Executive leaders who can work constructively with different people and points of view.

Possible Inclusions

1. Program roadmap

2. Induction

3. Welcome box

4. Workshops

5. Activities (e.g. Hackathon)

6. Guest speakers

7. Tools for application

8. Assets (e.g. eLearning, video)

9. Coaching

10. Participant management

Target Audience

Executive leaders

Learn more

Want to delve a little deeper into executive skills? Take a look at our 3-min micro videos on key skills like strategy development, empowering diversity, and building an innovation culture.

Our in-person delivery option maximises opportunities for robust conversation, experiential activities and intensive group work. This is no ‘death by PowerPoint’ experience – our facilitators are skilled in presenting and leading immersive experiences that get the most out of people. Supported by multimedia, attractive takeaway pages and practical strategies for using back on the job – this in-person approach is valuable for building strong bonds and bringing people together to collaborate.
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Our virtual delivery option breathes fresh life into the online experience with its almost ‘radio show’ feel. Our expert facilitators use a combination of multimedia, questioning techniques and break out activities to target micro-skills – with a focus on application. Supported by an online platform hosting custom-built materials, participants can be assured of lively, dynamic sessions that have a distinct bias to action. Going virtual keeps program sessions succinct, sharp and focused on targeting particular skills in a dynamic way.
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A hybrid model takes the best of in-person and virtual delivery options and blends them together, so there’s a healthy mix of face to face collaboration and targeted skill building. Depending on the program themes, we work with you to decide what is better suited to getting together in a training space versus what would sit comfortably in an online setting. This flexible combination allows you and your team to get the best of both worlds.
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Executive teams often face challenges when they are very different people with different values and points of view – even when they’re aligned on purpose. Relationship conflict can compromise business outcomes and by investing time into confronting any dysfunction, it can make way for a more constructive rhythm.
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