Water Leadership Program

The Water Leadership Program (WLP) is an award-winning program that helps emerging leaders to develop the ability to exert influence, drive change and advance challenging integrated water management projects – abilities associated with the most effective integrated water management leaders.

The WLP is a feedback-intensive, 10-month professional development program, underpinned by a contemporary definition of leadership, commonly known as the DAC Framework.  The DAC Framework views leadership as a process of influence that accomplishes three outcomes:

  • direction: a shared understanding of common goals and strategy (e.g. a shared vision for a new water management project or team)
  • alignment: the joint coordination of resources and activities (e.g. aligning people, projects, funding and research in a team to deliver a shared vision)
  • commitment: a commitment to collective success (e.g. motivating and inspiring others to achieve mutual interests).

Participants in the program may achieve one of two Griffith University digitally badged micro-credential – a Certificate of Water Leadership or a Certificate of Water Leadership (Excellence).  In short, a Certificate of Excellence micro-credential is awarded when participants complete all elements of the program. A standard Certificate micro-credential is awarded when participants just complete the core elements of the program (e.g. the training, 360-degree feedback, an individual leadership development plan, etc.).

Micro-credential certificates are issued in the form of digital badges granted through Credly. The Certificate of Excellence provides 20 Credit Points of advanced standing entry towards the Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership offered by Griffith University – equivalent to half of the Graduate Certificate.

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Program overview

Designed to build your capacity to continually develop as a water industry leader over your career, this ten-month program features a balance between academic and real-world approaches to learning including:

  • mentoring activities with experienced water industry executives
  • a sound research and theoretical basis, including conceptual models of effective water leaders, leadership processes and leadership development
  • 1 to 1 coaching sessions with specialist leadership coaches who work in the water sector
  • a mix of face-to-face and online delivery modes, which involve a variety of highly interactive activities
  • the use of individual leadership development plans to ensure that participants focus their developmental activities, practise the application of new knowledge and tools in the workplace, get feedback and local support, and reflect to accelerate learning
  • the use of leadership-focused case studies from the water sector
  • peer review of program design, content and evaluation by leading industry practitioners and academics.

Delivery format

This program is offered part-time over ten months and includes two face-to-face intensives. The program is flexible, to cater to professionals who are currently working. As a participant in the program, you will:

  • complete pre-training exercises, reading and an online 360-degree feedback process
  • attend a face-to-face intensive in Brisbane for three days in March 2023, with a second optional intensive for one and a half days in August 2023  (an online alternative is provided)
  • build an individual leadership development plan, which includes a leadership project
  • engage in regular one-on-one coaching and mentoring sessions;
  • complete monthly activities between face-to-face intensives (e.g. online training and discussion forums) and assessment activities.

A sector-endorsed program

This program targets non-executive leaders in the water sector. Program participants play a variety of leadership roles, but are all team leaders. Some also lead cross boundary project teams, while others lead teams of staff. Some more senior participants are also preparing for executive roles.

Participants come from all parts of the water sector, with the majority coming from water utilities, State government departments and local government agencies. The average age is mid 30s, with equal participation by males and females.

Since 2011, over 250 participants from eight countries, with the majority being Australian, have completed the program.

We have developed a self-assessment tool to help you to determine if the Water Leadership Program meets your current professional development needs, if you are ready to undertake this program now, and what your potential benefit from the program may be.

Download the tool here >

The program has been designed and is delivered each year in accordance with the following principles:

  • The program’s design and content (e.g. conceptual models and leadership tools) should be informed by sound research that is relevant to people playing different roles in the water sector.
  • The design of the program needs to be consistent with the ‘70:20:10 rule’ of leadership development (Lombardo and Eichinger, 2000), which suggests that approximately 10% of development typically occurs via structured training, 20% comes from receiving feedback and support from others, and 70% originates from on-the-job experience.
  • Leadership can be taught and learnt (Avolio, 2005) even though a leader’s personality characteristics and context contribute to effective leadership (Northouse, 2016).
  • The design, content and evaluation of the program should be transparent (e.g. communicated through conference and journal papers).
  • A feedback-intensive leadership development program design is most likely to generate positive behavioural change and a positive return on investment to participants and their organisations (see Guthrie and King, 2004).
  • Leadership development is a lifelong, challenging activity (Avolio, 2005). As such, the program must help participants to actively manage their development as leaders over their careers.
  • The design of the program should include numerous opportunities for participants to build self-awareness, challenge themselves, get frequent feedback from their colleagues, receive support from colleagues, and deeply reflect (Avolio, 2005; McCauley and Van Velsor, 2004).
  • The design should aim to build the individual capacity of water leaders to influence and drive change (i.e. leader development), as well as their capacity to work with other leaders to collectively drive group-based leadership processes (i.e. leadership development).
  • The program should prepare emerging leaders for current and future challenges in the water sector, as well as the ability to play different roles in the water sector. These roles include the champion leader, enabling (adaptive) leader, cross-boundary team leader, thought leader, strategic leader and trusted advisor roles (see Taylor et al., 2015).
  • Face-to-face training should minimise the use of ‘lecture style’ presentations and maximise opportunities for interaction, discussion, self-assessment, information sharing and reflection.
  • The program should be comprehensively evaluated each time it is run and continuously improved.
  • The program’s design should include ‘accountability mechanisms’ to ensure that participants fully commit to the program (Shelton, 2003).

Download the program syllabus >

The following is an overview of the program’s elements, their timings and time commitment for participants.

(The total time commitment is estimated at 14 days over ten months.)

December

Program elements:

  • Introductory module that provides details of the program’s syllabus, background reading, reflection activities and guidance on how participants can fully prepare for the first face-to-face intensive.
  • Customised 360-degree feedback process (completion of an online questionnaire) to help assess leadership performance, strengths and weaknesses, self-awareness and opportunities to improve.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Induction to the program.
  • Teams introductory exercise.

January

Program elements:

  • Pre-training exercises and reading (continued).
  • 360-degree feedback process: Participant self-assessment.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Self-leadership: Time management.

February

Program elements:

  • Pre-training exercises and reading (continued).
  • 360-degree feedback process (continued).
  • Online workshop [Core]: Introduction to leadership in the water sector, fundamental leadership concepts, ethics and ethical leadership.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Introduction to leadership development including building a leadership plan.

March

Program elements:

  • First face-to-face intensive in Brisbane in early-mid March: 3 days. Day 1 to focus on self-leadership (e.g. purpose, values, emotional intelligence, self-leadership traps, and leadership roles). Day 2 to focus on transformational leadership, authentic leadership and playing the six water leadership roles (plus 360-degree feedback). Day 3 to focus on power, influence, social networking, building shared visions, and building a leadership plan. Also provide participants with a document that includes all one-page summaries.
  • Plan development by participants and feedback from IWC coaches.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Self-leadership: Building resilience.

April

Program elements:

  • Leadership plan implementation, local mentoring discussions and peer to peer support.
  • One-to-one coaching session (no. 1) – late April / early May.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Communication: Active listening and giving feedback.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Leadership roles: Playing the team leader role.

May

Program elements:

  • Leadership plan implementation, local mentoring discussions and peer to peer support.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Communication: Coaching skills.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Leadership roles: Playing the adaptive / enabling leader role.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Leadership roles: Playing the thought leader and trusted advisor leader roles.
  • Online group coaching session no. 1 [Optional].

June

Program elements:

  • Leadership plan implementation, local mentoring discussions and peer to peer support.
  • One-to-one coaching session (no. 2) – early to mid-June.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Leadership styles and situational leadership.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Leadership roles: The cross-boundary team leader role including leading with little authority.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Leading in a crisis.

July

Program elements:

  • Leadership plan implementation, local mentoring discussions and peer to peer support.
  • Begin the follow-up feedback process.
  • Interviewing a senior leader in one’s organisation.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Exploring two water leadership case studies.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Strategic leadership and playing the strategic leader role.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: A film-based leadership case study: 12 Angry Men.
  • Online group coaching session no. 2 [Optional].

August

Program elements:

  • Leadership plan implementation, local mentoring discussions and peer to peer support.
  • Complete the follow-up feedback process.
  • Second face-to-face intensive in Brisbane in early March: 1.5 days. Day 1 to focus on conflict management, presentation skills, facilitation skills, avoiding self and team leadership-related traps, and the follow-up feedback results. Day 2 to focus on participant presentations, using tools from the program and updating plans.
  • Updating and simplifying individual leadership development plans (for use following the program).
  • Online workshop [Optional]: An introduction to systems thinking.

September

Program elements:

  • Continuing to update and simplify individual leadership development plans.
  • One-to-one coaching session (no. 3) – mid September.
  • Online workshop [Core]: Integrating exercise: exploring three leadership scenarios and celebration of program completion.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Navigating role transitions.
  • Online workshop [Optional]: Innovation leadership.
  • Preparation of a final Reflection Report.
  • Anonymous on-line evaluation survey to identify ways to improve the program in future [Optional].

Please note this schedule is pending COVID-19 barriers/travel restrictions.  Program schedule, mode and timing may be altered to accommodate circumstances affected by COVID-19.

Participants in the program may achieve one of two Griffith University digitally badged micro-credential – a Certificate of Water Leadership or a Certificate of Water Leadership (Excellence).

In short, a Certificate of Excellence micro-credential is awarded when participants complete all elements of the program (see Table 1). A standard Certificate micro-credential is awarded when participants just complete the core elements of the program (e.g. the training, 360-degree feedback, an individual leadership development plan, etc.).

Micro-credential certificates are issued in the form of digital badges granted through Credly. The Certificate of Excellence provides 20 Credit Points of advanced standing entry towards the Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership offered by Griffith University. This is equivalent to gaining academic credit for half of the Graduate Certificate.

It doesn’t matter where you’re joining us from, or where you are at in your career, a range of scholarships and other funding options are available for those interested in studying with the International WaterCentre.

See our scholarships page for more information.

Professional outcomes

The Water Leadership Program is designed for emerging water leaders at the project to middle management level. The program is customised for the water sector to equip participants with:

  • the ability to drive change when addressing ‘wicked problems’
  • exercise influence
  • improve their capacity to demonstrate many of the leadership behaviours needed for future executive roles
  • and develop an enhanced ability to mentor and manage within their individual work context.

Who should enrol?

Project and middle managers with:

  • at least three years of experience in the water industry
  • a desire to complement their technical and management skills with advanced leadership capacities

As a participant you will have opportunities to identify key leadership issues relevant to your individual context. This means that you’ll find the program highly beneficial and relevant regardless of where in the world you come from.

I wish I was directed to this type of leadership course earlier. Some of the highlights from the course for me were: a 360 degree survey and feed-back process to develop a greater awareness of strengths and blind spots, practical tips on self-leadership activities necessary to incorporate in my weekly schedule and enhanced knowledge of proven leadership practices (eg. transformational leadership behaviours).

Are you ready for the WLP?

We have developed a self-assessment tool to help you to determine if the Water Leadership Program meets your current professional development needs, if you are ready to undertake this program now, and what your potential benefit from the program may be.

Benefits to participants

As a participant you will develop:

  • improved ability to drive change, especially when addressing ‘wicked problems’ that involve integrated water management
  • enhanced capacity to exercise influence in a variety of contexts
  • new tools to help you continue to develop as a leader over your career
  • greater self-awareness and improved ability to mentor and coach other developing leaders and staff
  • opportunities to gain knowledge and guidance from researchers and highly respected executives from the water sector
  • improved capacity to demonstrate many of the leadership behaviours needed for future executive roles
  • new social networks with emerging and executive water industry leaders.

Benefits to your employer

Research indicates that networks of skilled water leaders are a major factor in driving change and helping water organisations meet the complex challenges of the 21st century. According to the feedback gathered from participants in the last three rounds, we conservatively estimate that organisations fully funding staff to participate should see a positive return on investment in less than one year (on average).

The program helps emerging leaders to strengthen their skills in:

  • initiating and driving change
  • implementing more integrated and sustainable water management practices
  • leading high-performing, cross-boundary, multidisciplinary teams
  • exercising influence across various organisational boundaries
  • strategically building and using social networks
  • anticipating, planning for, and using ‘windows of opportunity’ to drive change
  • using various influence strategies and models of change.

Two enrolment options

There are two ways to strengthen your water leadership capacity at the International WaterCentre:

  • the Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership, which is a formal postgraduate program enrolled through Griffith University
  • the Water Leadership Program, which is a professional development program, enrolled through the International WaterCentre.

Both programs are identical in content and delivery, except that students in the Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership also undertake a postgraduate-level leadership project, with a higher level of analysis and reporting, complete a higher level of assessment, and work to earn a university qualification. WLP participants work to earn a Certificate of Excellence, but not a university degree.

Find out more about the Graduate Certificate in Water Leadership

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Watch the recent program overview video

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