Cultivating a High Performing Mind & Excellence in Leadership

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


Develop a high performing mind and excellence in self-directed public-sector leadership and management.

This workshop has been specially developed for executives and leaders striving to achieve leadership excellence in their role. Harnessing the latest research advances from contextual behavioural science, this workshop will teach you how to cultivate a high performing mind in managing change in the service of consistent high performance. Combining the tools of psychological flexibility and human behavioural insights will help leaders more consistently allocate the scarce resource of attention to what is most important and achieve results through people – the key assets for productivity enhancement and successful change transformation.

See related courses: Structured Foresighting and A Behavioural Science Approach to Communication.

This course will run as an online and distance program in 2020. It is tentatively set to run for one week 16-20 November 2020. Specific dates and times, including for multiple live sessions will be confirmed soon. Contact to find out more.

Course date: 
16–20 November 2020
Online and distance

Before/by 30 October 2020: $1,195

From 31 October 2020: $1,495

OR $3,195 for enrolment in the Series (saving of $390 off the price of purchasing each day separately).

Group discounts available.

Course overview

Participants will learn to deal with habitual and negative responses and behaviours in both themselves and others, to name and identify such behaviours and develop the metacognition and perspective-taking to recognise and manage this intrinsically and extrinsically. By taking perspective on your part in a larger system, you will learn how you are modifying the system, and develop a more flexible and morally determined repertoire of chosen responses to challenging and difficult situations. Such personal responsiveness has been shown to significantly enhance work engagement, communication, stress management, learning and information processing, emotional intelligence, executive functioning, cognitive style, and physical and mental wellbeing.

In addition, by recognising the importance of morally determined and values-directed action, you will inculcate such behaviour in individuals within your teams. Such prosocial approaches will help you to develop teams of people with a united and cohesive sense of purpose guided by what is intrinsically, morally and culturally important.

Topics to be covered:

  • Develop and refine the attributes of psychological flexibility as a leader and manager
  • Identify intrinsic core values for success that facilitate personal agility and responsiveness
  • Develop a broader repertoire of chosen responses to life’s situations
  • Develop an empathetic approach by increasing your awareness of peers, bosses and subordinates and in so doing, better appreciate their needs and strengths
  • Facilitate constructive and productive engagements with others that deliver results and create a positive impact at the workplace
  • Improve your sensitivity and develop a tool-kit of diverse approaches for dealing with people effectively and efficiently

Learning outcomes:

  • Improved awareness and productivity
  • Enhanced personal wellbeing
  • More consistently choose and act in line with your values
  • Better able to catalyse learning and changed behaviours personally, in peers and subordinates
  • Communicate with impact and positively influence others
  • Cultivate a culture of prosociality and values-consonant civic engagement


Participating individuals and organisations will be more adequately equipped to response to the challenges of this century. For example, in the areas of food, water and energy security while taking into consideration gender equity and social inclusion. The issues being faced by the public and associated sectors are complex and seeming intractable. An effective response, I believe, will necessarily be multi-disciplinary for those who rise to the challenge. Hence the design of the program – an accessible, well informed, deliberative process that catalyses innovative responses from individuals within nested and interrelated team and community arrangements to the challenges they face within their sphere of influence.

Anticipated behavioural and business impacts include:

Participants will learn to:

  • Analyse what is really motivating and directing behaviour and the results you are getting
  • Clarify your personal values by identifying what is important now and in the long-run
  • Increase your awareness of experience and how attention is allocated
  • Reinforce the value you are striving for in important life domains
  • Act effectively by designing, testing and prototyping new ideas and behaviours

Who should attend?

Leaders (SES Band 1&2) and managers (EL1&2) striving to cultivate personal wellbeing, a high performing mind, enhance team & organisational performance and motivate others to achieve the same.

Selected participants should hold a mid or senior-level policy, practice, research or reform role, in either government, civil society or the private sector. Ideally they should have completed at least an Undergraduate or Masters level tertiary qualification, have at least five years’ work experience at mid to senior levels, and have a good understanding of the discipline they are representing.

Online training: How it works

This is a real-time, date-specific course, in which you will join live classes, engage and connect with experts, other course participants and the Executive Education team. Here’s how it works:

  • Pre-course live session. This is an opportunity for you to grab a cuppa and join our meet and greet before the course commences.
  • Practice + Study. Set aside up to 2 hours per day – this time commitment will vary depending on how deeply you choose to engage with the material. It is up to you.
  • Course pack. Each participant will receive a carefully curated workbook, which includes everything you need to guide you through the course.
  • Live sessions with presenter. This is a specified date and time for you to come together with the presenter and other participants to consolidate your learning.
  • Post-course. On completion of the course, you will receive your post-course resources for your reference and further learning.

Why choose online training?

  • No time off work – study and practice when you can.
  • Busy schedule? No problem, you can go at your own pace, join just the live classes, and do the course work whenever suits you best. We know that work and family obligations can be overwhelming. Mix and match the schedule to fit your life.
  • No travel. This is a course right at your fingertips. With no travel expenses, this is a very affordable option for high-level training with world-leading experts.
  • Live interaction with world-leading experts. You’ll have direct access to all the best resources and trainers.
  • Working remotely? With the online and distance format, we welcome participants from around the world to join us.


What if I can’t make a live session? No problem, we understand you are busy. Live sessions are recorded and transcribed for you to catch up in your own time.

What if I’m in a different time zone? All advertised course times are scheduled in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) otherwise known as GMT+11. Convert for your time zone here.

What if I am not tech savvy? As long as you have access to a phone or computer, you’ll have no problems. This is a low-tech course designed for everyone. If needed our team is here to help – contact us at

What if I have questions? We would love to hear from you. Contact our team at

Course presenter(s)

Associate Professor Robert Styles

Dr Styles is an academic at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. As a Contextual Behavioural Scientist, his applied work has been a study of how language and cognition functions to influence psychological and social wellbeing, particularly the enhancement of team and institutional productivity, collaboration and performance. This work has been part of an international initiative stemming out of the University of Nevada and The Evolution Institute, Florida, aimed at applying evolutionary and behavioural principles to solving real-world problems.

Within ANU, the ongoing application of Dr Styles’ research is at the operational nexus of a number of different disciplines including applied behavioural psychology, organisational and cultural sociology, evolutionary science, and systems engineering. Currently this work is being applied in Australia, SW Asia, Africa and the Pacific within corporations and public-sector agencies striving to improve strategic and behavioural approaches to human capital development. Particular areas of impact include food, water and energy security, gender equity and social inclusion realised through the sustainability of individual and collective endeavours.

Over the last decade Dr Styles has advised and mentored over 300 top executives and leaders and consulted to a range of clients including: the Australian Public Service Commission, NSW Health, Australian National University, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, Australia Federal Police, NTU Executive MBA Singapore, Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Bhutan Electricity Authority & Senior Government Officials and the China Ministry of Education. Between 2008 and 2012 he was a principal leadership consultant for the APSC-DFAT Leading Australia‘s Future in Asia-Pacific (LAFIA) SES training program; he led the design of the SES leadership development suite of programs implemented by the APSC from 2011-12; and, he designed, lead and researched the impact of an approach to applied behavioural psychology with systems engineering within the Museum of Australian Democracy and Australian Government Department of Finance between 2014 to 2017.

Previous positions include:

  • Contextual Behavioural Scientist, The Australian National University (ANU) 2010 – Present
  • Deputy Director (Strategic Engagement), Australia Pacific Security College, ANU 2019-present
  • Advisor, International Development, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU 2017 – 2019
  • Director, Organisational Leadership & Performance – ANU Enterprise (commercial arm ANU) 2013 – 2017
  • Senior Consultant – Human Resources Division, ANU 2009 – 2012

Updated:  8 December 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team