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New program to develop for purpose leadership capacity

February 05th, 2021

A unique leadership program funded by four major foundations aims to develop capacity in current leaders in the for-purpose sector and to help drive greater social impact across Australia.

The collaboration between the Myer Foundation, the Sidney Myer Fund, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and the Paul Ramsay Foundation is behind the creation of a five-year $9 million program to be run by the Centre for Social Impact.

The Social Impact Leadership Australia program draws on best overseas practice and will start its first course in July this year. It is intended to select 24 CEOs for the 10-month program, that will include immersive learning experiences, a three-month sabbatical and one-on-one coaching.

One of the program’s unique features is it that each CEO’s organisation will also receive $30,000 to help build their capacity and support the “step-up leader’’ or deputy CEO during the CEO’s sabbatical. By the end of the initial five years, there will be 120 graduates of the program, spread across the for purpose sector.

Kristy Muir, CEO of CSI, said there was “persistent underinvestment’’ in the professional development of for purpose leaders. “This program helps change that,’’ she said.

The foundations’ collaboration was born from a collective desire to support for purpose leadership to build their professional capacity, while also positively influencing their organisations and, in the longer term, creating a network of leaders.

Leonard Vary, CEO of the Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, said there was recognition of a damaging and persistent lack of investment in the leadership of the Australian for-purpose sector.

“Beyond mere professional development, Social Impact Leadership Australia is a powerful way to influence whole organisations, while ensuring the next tier of leaders is ready to take the reins and lead for social impact,’’ he said.

One third of the program’s cohort will be from rural and regional Australia. Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation CEO Jenny Wheatley said it was critical that it was a truly national program. “By broadening our reach in this way, we are ensuring we will be available to a diverse group of leaders and organisations from across Australia,’’ she said.

The role of leadership in the sector has rarely been more important in the aftermath of the bushfires, drought, and the COVID-19 epidemic, which has only increased disadvantage across some sections of the country and posed significant challenges for many for purpose organisations.

Jo Taylor, Chief Capability Officer of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, said: ”To break complex cycles of disadvantage, we have to enhance the capability of the for-purpose sector which plays an increasingly central role in developing new approaches and delivering support to those who need it most.

 The program was officially launched today/Friday (Feb 5) and expressions of interest are now open:

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