The Public Sector Consortium’s Curriculum for Leaders

For further information on how to schedule one of these programs on site or to participate in the Community of Practice, please email

Achieving Results with Organizations that Learn

Program #1

This three-day program introduces participants to the tools and practices that are essential for leaders who want to create organizations that continuously learn and improve their results. Designed to help leaders transform themselves and their organizations through the theories and practices of organizational learning, participants will be introduced to the core disciplines of Organizational Learning (introduced in the Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge): systems thinking, building shared vision, personal mastery, team learning and advanced communication skills.

Examples and tools have been carefully selected to assure relevance to the public sector workplace and its specific systems and structures. This program is for individuals or teams who are interested in improving their personal capacity to achieve and sustain outstanding organizational results.

Creating Team Performance Measures and Outcomes

Program #2

In this two-day program managers and their teams will learn how to write outcome-based performance plans and create a mutual commitment to outcomes for which they share responsibility. Participants will be introduced to a new language for describing and measuring performance and learn the importance of linking their team performance to the overall strategic mission of the organization.

The team will analyze the wants and needs of key end-users, analyze the team’s current activities to determine which should be continued or suspended, and what, if any, should be added. They will define their individual roles and accountabilities, and then each participant will create an outcome-based standard that relates to the efforts of the team.

The course will be facilitated as a combination team building and working session. The manager and team members will focus their efforts on the achievement of the possible rather than dwelling on factors that are outside their control. Participants will use the new language and approach to create practical outcome-based performance plans for each member of the team in order to continue the process when they return to their workplace.

Facilitation Practices for Public Leaders

Program #3

Effective leaders in today’s global workplace need to have the core skills for; norming groups to encourage civil discourse, engaging colleagues, employees, citizen groups, and, in some cases, adversaries. The skills required for the everyday demands made of leaders include: creating buy-in, making a safe working environment, empowering people appropriately, and moving groups beyond conflict to positive relationships. Most leaders learn how to deal with these complex situations using a trial and error approach. This program will provide an extensive tool kit of highly usable strategies that will enhance the participant’s capacity as a facilitative leader.

In today’s workplace, leaders need to align their teams around common outcomes, achieve results in record time, engage quality employees, coach their teams and help them to learn quickly. At the core of these roles is a series of skills that is best described as facilitative leadership. This two-day workshop features multiple opportunities for each participant to practice new tools and receive feedback. Participants leave with invaluable core skills and implementation strategies for use in the workplace.

Leadership Coaching for Peers… Building a Culture of Leadership

Program #4

Leadership Coaching for Peers is a program of learning specifically designed for public leaders interested in developing their leadership capacity by participating in a peer-coaching relationship with their colleagues. The program is designed for each participant to take part as both coach and coachee. As a coach the participant will provide supportive inquiry, feedback, and options to those they are coaching. As a coachee participants will focus on a series of leadership practices essential to the profession. They will learn to develop their capacity by reflecting on how they use these practices in their work and by analyzing results.

Leadership Coaching for Peers includes a detailed guide to help leaders become coaches to other colleagues whose leadership capacity is important to the organization. This approach builds leadership capability throughout the organization. The program is designed to develop leadership competency in essential areas that are defined as “leadership practices.”

These practices are intended to broaden perspectives and shift the organizational paradigm from reactive to anticipatory in order to achieve long-term gains. This peer-coaching program provides the structure, tools and techniques to support leaders who are interested in helping each other build mastery in leadership performance.

Leadership Through Productive Conversation

Program #5

Conversations are leadership in action. Leaders solve problems and make things happen through their interactions with others. When we tally all the time spent in meetings, one-on-one interactions, conversing on the phone and responding to email, most people report that conversations take up sixty to ninety percent of their work time. Despite the hours of practice this is still an area where most of us run into our toughest challenges. We are expected to achieve our best thinking and produce quality results with little understanding of how to talk together effectively and generate collective intelligence. This two-day workshop is based on the assumption that the quality of our thinking and our relationships affect the quality of our results.

This program focuses on the basic tools and practices that generate new thinking and promote learning in groups. It is interactive and experiential, and provides the opportunity to apply concepts and skills to real work situations. It will give participants the opportunity to understand the importance of balancing advocacy and inquiry with listening effectively. It provides the opportunity to discover how assumptions shape thinking and action, how to generate a collective picture of an issue to create understanding, and how to dissolve polarization. Also covered are how to identify and shift stuck conversational patterns, how to work with the language of power, how to deal with difficult dynamics, and how to use conversation as a powerful feedback tool.

Learning in Public & The Art of the Public Apology

Program #6

As public leaders one of the essential practices of leadership is the ability to learn in public. What does this actually mean and would you recognize it if you saw it happening? The informal version of learning in public can happen on a daily basis at staff meetings, or more formally through an after action review. It can happen with one employee or with several hundred. The more public the assumption failure the more difficult it is for the leader to admit that there may be a different approach or that they might need more help or information.

The leader’s impact on whether our public organizations can learn and admit mistakes has enormous implications for all of us. As citizens it affects our trust in government and as employees it affects our ability to grow and learn at work.

The truly critical moment is when a mistake or harmful act affects a large population or has serious lasting ramifications. Then, the leader faces the challenge of the public apology. There is an accumulating body of evidence about the power of public apology to heal rifts and allow parties to channel their energy into building a positive future rather than being pulled backwards in anger. As most of us have experienced, there are effective apologies and apologies that do more damage than good; the consequences at both ends of the spectrum can be astonishing.

In this one-day seminar we will explore the implications of public officials issuing apologies. We will look at the ingredients of effective apologies and calamitous apologies. We expect to raise more questions than we will answer, all with an eye towards helping leaders to be more effective.

Negotiation Skills for Public Leaders

Program #7

Now more than ever, negotiation is a critical skill for leaders at all levels. To achieve higher value agreements while protecting and enhancing relationships, leaders must be able to negotiate effectively with both internal and external partners. Often negotiations involve multiple parties, conflicting standards or data, and uncertainty with respect to future conditions. The Public Sector Consortium, in partnership with faculty from the Consensus Building Institute, offers practical and proven one and two-day courses using the Mutual Gains Approach pioneered at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

The curriculum, while tailored to each audience, centers on a four-step process for building better agreements: Preparation, Value Creation, Value Distribution, and Follow Through. Prior to each engagement, we seek to confidentially assess the negotiation challenges faced by each potential audience in order to design an interactive program to address those challenges.

We also offer a range of follow-up services to ensure that learning becomes a part of daily practice. Our audiences report substantial returns from their training investment, often totaling in the millions of dollars.

Preventing Public Policy Addiction

Program #8

Policy makers often unwittingly become dependent on responses to social problems that actually make the problems worse over time. We might say that they become addicted to increasingly ineffective solutions.

In this half-day session, you will:

  • Understand why good intentions are not enough to solve chronic, complex problems
  • Identify examples of policy addiction
  • Understand the system dynamics that lead to the core problem of policy addiction
  • Clarify leverage points for shifting from quick fixes to more fundamental and lasting solutions to deep-seated problems

Reduce Phantom Work Load So You Can Lead

Program #9

Today’s leaders are running out of time. Working under the assumption that longer hours lead to improved productivity, they are driving themselves harder and harder to increase their effectiveness. But with unclear results and no end in sight, many are wondering what else they can do to achieve high levels of sustainable, long-term performance while doing a better job of managing their time, their relationships and their lives. This program teaches a unique approach designed to help leaders develop new strategic time management skills and establish an organization-wide climate of meaningful and deliberate action.

The focus of this workshop is both tactical and strategic. It provides a self-management framework for sustaining intention and focus over time, making hard tradeoffs, and eliminating “phantom workload”: the unnecessary extra work inadvertently caused by taking on too much, running late, and struggling to keep up. The program was designed to incorporate visionary planning, systems thinking, and the management of time and workload. This innovative framework incorporates a seven-step process that embeds tips for performance improvement into a proven method for lasting behavioral change.

Strategic Alignment for High Performance

Program #10

Leaders alone do not align organizations; the entire workforce aligns the organization. Creating an inspired workforce that is aligned with its mission and purpose is the key to exceptional performance and workplace satisfaction. Participants in this program will learn from three leaders who helped their organizations become committed to what it would take to be fully aligned around their strategic goals.

Through case studies from the Environmental Protection Agency and Ford Motor Company, participants will have the opportunity to acquire some of the skills that were necessary for these leaders to align the performance of their teams with the organization’s strategic goals. Participants will be introduced to the leadership competencies required at all levels to implement a system-wide approach to performance, and they will learn a new language for how to construct an outcome vs. output-based performance system.

The program will introduce creative tension, methods for understanding the underlying organizational systems and structures, how to identify end-users, and how to do a gap analysis that identifies current reality vs. goals and aspirations for the future. This program is an opportunity to gain the insight and skills required to create aligned quality performance from leaders who have successfully done so.

Succeed in Any Conditions Using After Action Reviews

Program #11

The After Action Review (A.A.R.) is a simple and powerful tool for teams who want to raise the bar on their performance, regardless of what the world throws at them; this program is based on in-depth research of this US Army “best practice.” The unusual format of this two-day program helps real teams learn the fundamentals of the A.A.R. and think through applications to their own organizational and operational challenges.

After a ninety-minute opening session overview, the instructor meets with teams individually over the course of two days, building on the foundation, identifying appropriate applications and using the team’s own work to practice. A wrap-up on Day Two brings teams together to plan a way forward. This program is appropriate for organizations that already use the A.A.R. and want to improve their practice, as well as for those that want to learn where and how to start implementing this invaluable workplace tool.

Sustainable Leadership Practices for Leaders

Program #12

In the United States our choices as public leaders often have impacts and repercussions well beyond the American citizens that we serve. In this context we believe that public leaders must have the capacity to serve both their organizational missions as well as the larger mission we all share: sustaining human, natural and economic resources for future generations. Sustaining resources to serve the public good requires us to think differently about our role as leaders and to develop tools and competencies that support this new model. The program is based on the assumption that all public leaders inherently understand the larger contract they have with the American public and with other citizens of the world.

This contract, although often not clearly articulated, deals with the choices that organizational leaders make in support of mission outcomes. Do we really understand how our everyday choices affect the resources necessary to sustain the work of our organizations and life for all of us on the planet? Should our public leaders be able to answer these questions? The decisions made by public, private and non-profit leaders in one part of the world affect the quality of life for people in other parts of the world. This one-day program will help engage your workplace in a different way of thinking about mission outcomes and measures of performance success.

Systems Thinking for Public Leaders

Program #13

This program is highly experiential and introduces participants to the practice of Systems Thinking as a practical series of methods and tools that are essential to public leadership. This program builds the capacity to:

  • map workplace systems to better understand the current reality with your partners, employees and stakeholders
  • understand the importance of managing accumulations and delays in systems to better manage public expectations
  • learn to assess the highest point of leverage in the system to be more strategic in the use of resources
  • analyze the actions to be taken to avoid and/or manage the unintended consequences of your decisions
  • gain an understanding of the Tragedy of the Commons archetype as it relates to the purpose of public leadership
  • learn to use systems mapping as an advanced tool for briefing the public, stakeholders and supervisors

Past program participants have found that increased capacity in these skill areas has improved their everyday decision-making as well as their ability to analyze the intended and unintended consequences of their choices. Systems Thinking will help establish and link short-term perspectives to the long-term strategic direction of an organization, helping leaders and their teams understand and resolve complex recurring issues.

This dynamic program employs a “practice and doing” learning model. Participants will gain a much greater understanding of the existing interdependencies – with both internal and external stakeholders – in their organization. Modules cover:

  • Introduction to Systems Thinking
  • Diagramming Systems Maps
  • Leadership Foresight & Intervention
  • Facilitating Systems Inquiry
  • Systems Archetypes
  • Sustainable Leadership Practices™

A final, practice-based Workplace Practicum module helps participants further assimilate the Systems Thinking vocabulary, providing them a working knowledge of Systems Thinking and the skills necessary to recognize and analyze the ramifications and tradeoffs of their actions now and in the future. This program will improve the capacity of your organization to think more systemically and act more strategically.

** Please note that while this program can be taught in two consecutive days, its design allows it to be delivered in 1.5 – 2 hour modules spread over a length of time that is appropriate for the user.