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Building Water Leadership Capacity – A Short Course for Consulting Staff

Building Water Leadership Capacity – A Short Course for Consulting Staff
ALLUVIUM Consulting

A customised training program to enhance water leadership skills in consulting staff.

Project Category: Education & Training

Key Areas of Work: Leadership,Training leadership

Project Date: Oct 30, 2014

IWC believes most ‘effective water leaders’ need a combination of technical (understanding), management (organising) and leadership (influencing) abilities, in addition to enabling contexts (e.g. collaborative colleagues and adequate resources).

Achieving this balance of abilities requires professionals to become  - leaders with detailed expertise as well as this broad set of knowledge and skills.

From March to October this year, IWC ran an eight-month course to help water leaders achieve this goal.

This short course was custom designed for seven staff of Alluvium, a consultancy firm that specialises in the protection, rehabilitation and restoration of rivers and catchments. It also drew on aspects IWC’s award-winning Water Leadership Program and Master of Integrated Water Management.

The course strengthened participants' leadership capacity to supplement their existing technical and management competencies and help them to effectively exercise influence, initiate and enable change, tackle complex challenges and advance more integrated forms of water management.

The course primarily aimed to build leadership skills to assist Alluvium staff with strong technical and management abilities to become 'T-shaped water professionals'. That is, professionals with specific technical expertise as well as a broad set of knowledge and skills relating to understanding (technical competencies), organising (management competencies), and influencing (leadership competencies).

A four-day intensive training session was held in Brisbane. A variety of training modules / sessions were delivered over this period of time. Participants were provided with PowerPoint slides, written exercises and additional reading material (including some text books).

They were also guided through a process to build an individual leadership development plan that sets out how they proposed to apply new knowledge to improve their leadership capacity when they return to work. One-to-one coaching sessions with recognised experts in the water industry were also given.

Topics addressed within the course included:

  • Self-leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • The project champion (key change agent) leadership role
  • The team leadership role
  • The enabling leadership role
  • Power and influence
  • Principles and methods  of leadership development
  • Systems thinking – an introduction and tools (e.g. diagramming techniques)
  • Understanding complex situations
  • Building an individual leadership development plan
  • Building resilience and managing stress
  • Social networking
  • Time management
  • Key communication skills for leaders (e.g. active listening and giving feedback)
  • Fostering creativity and innovation

The IWM training focussed on ‘framing situations and diagnosing problems – soft systems and collaborative approaches’. A session on “Systems thinking” provided a rich set of practical tools for generating multiple perspectives, shared understandings of complex situations, which enable a fuller set of solutions to be explored on the basis of a more comprehensive framing. Such approaches, when undertaken collaboratively with stakeholders, can offer a way of establishing trust, influencing behaviour and creating positive, lasting benefits.

This session covered:

  • Theory – how soft systems and collaborative approaches can help
  • Soft systems modelling tools
  • Collaborative conceptual modelling
  • Effective collaboration practice

The session involved some fundamental theory with traditional classroom based teaching, and active, practical work focussed on acquiring an understanding of practical tools and techniques and how they relate to the theory.


"For me this course was life changing, because I now have hugely improved self-awareness and greater clarity of personal values. I no longer take negative comments as criticism, but see them as a gift and a way to improve. I am now in charge of my own career destiny."

"I see this as a starting point from which I can continue to learn and that the topics covered are also applicable beyond the workplace. Even some of the simple exercises can be uncomfortable to identify some of your leadership characteristics - strengths and shortcomings - but the reflection is worth it if you really want to improve."


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