Futurists have been heralding the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution for some time. However, it wasn’t until the recent multiple cataclysmic events (natural disaster, pandemic, war) – which have precipitated huge disruption to existing structures such as supply chains, and accelerated the uptake of digital technologies – that we have started to appreciate this emergent future.

There is much anxiety about the future – how can we use leadership to steer towards not only surviving this future, but thriving in it?

Powered by the Menzies Foundation, the School of Cybernetics is undertaking research into Cybernetic Leadership, and designing a learning program around those insights, which will equip Australia’s current and emerging leaders to navigate the fast, smart and interconnected world they are inheriting, and to shape its future state.  

We are reimagining how technology, society and the environment are connected, and how we can empower people to lead change towards a safe, responsible and sustainable world for humans, non-humans and the environment, and map the transformations required at individual, organisational and community levels

The goals of our program change some long-held assumptions about leadership. For example:

  • Our program is about other people rather than the individual leader. Rather than individual leadership styles, personal journeys, or independent skill development, we will be focusing on relational concepts, operating within a context, and exploring your identity, power structures and actions in relation to the people around you, and about who others need you to be. 
  • Our program is about influencing rather than controlling systems. We will explore the skills needed in influencing and dancing with the system, and acknowledging a leader is not generally at the centre of a system, or able to see all of it. 
  • Our program is about comfort in complexity. We won’t be teaching you to manage, reduce or simplify complexity—we will show you how to lead well in a space where you cannot know the whole system or have all the information.  
  • Our program pays attention to the past as well as the future. In the fourth industrial revolution, not everything is new. We are building on past infrastructure, ideas, assumptions and practices. So we need to understand where we’ve come from and why thinking critically about the past matters for the future. 
  • Our program is about self-awareness and context-awareness. When you don’t have all the information, it is equally important to ensure leadership actions are informed by more than just one view of the system.

The design and development of the program will be informed by our research and elements of our flagship Masters in Applied Cybernetics. It will examine the role of change-makers in the system over time, including exploring the pathways taken by alumni of change-making programs like the Master of Applied Cybernetics.

Read the full report here.

Watch the launch event:#

To learn more about this project, contact: Maia Gould, Strategic Services Lead

You are on Aboriginal land.

The Australian National University acknowledges, celebrates and pays our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people of the Canberra region and to all First Nations Australians on whose traditional lands we meet and work, and whose cultures are among the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

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