Social Enterprise Leadership


Rising social expectations and broadly based popular activism is reshaping the function of enterprise leadership. As a consequence, the Social Enterprise Leadership Advisory Board reflecting broadly held views believes there is an urgent need for all enterprises to be driven by a socially responsible purpose that inspires innovative contributions from all stakeholders and for traditional NFP enterprises to increase the level and productivity of funding generated by commercial action in support of their adopted social purpose.

In response to these requirements, the Australian Graduate School of Leadership has adapted key components of its former Master of Business Leadership Degree to develop an innovative Executive Certificate in Social Enterprise Leadership, with learning outcomes that include:

  • An enhanced personal overview understanding of the practice of social enterprise leadership, given each participant’s  assessed strengths and weaknesses relative to the evolving competencies of leadership and the enterprise’s intended social impact purpose;
  • An appreciation of the importance of securing shared understanding of roles and relationships and the equitable sharing of accrued benefits while sustaining trust across stakeholders;
  • The ability to ask relevant commercial questions and then make effective use of the answers;
  • How to sustain leadership’s ability to continuously adapt the organisation’s business model to an evolving external context while ensuring the integrated support of internal functions, given identified leadership strengths and weaknesses.


Innovative Approach

Enrolment in this Program will include the opportunity to have your current social enterprise leadership competency levels assessed at entry and completion of the program. These  competency  assessments  can also  be  linked  to  a 360-degree  feedback  from  the  workplace  to  ensure the program delivers real documented and measurable performance improvement for participants through a methodology that has been in use for over 20 years and is based on a fully-tested outcome-based competency model.

The initial assessment will compare the candidate’s leadership competencies against a leadership competency profile.  The assessment will take approximately 1 hour (2 assessors) via face-to-face session or video conference (for example, over Skype).

A confidential initial individual report will include a score on each leadership competence assessed, providing the candidate with an understanding of the personal learning objectives they must seek to address with the assistance of their subject lecturer. This initial report will be available two weeks after start of the first subject.

The initial report will also include a 360-degree survey to support the assessment and can be used to raise awareness in the workplace of the candidate’s actions to improve themselves.  The candidate nominates a manager to whom the survey link will be forwarded.  The survey will also include the candidate’s self-assessment. 

The final leadership competency assessment will be undertaken on completion of the final fourth subject and will take approximately 1.5 hours (face-to-face or via video conference).  The assessment will be against the initial desired targeted competency position.  A second 360 workplace survey can also be undertaken at the conclusion of the program and the report will highlight the progress over time and information for personal career management considerations.


What the Program Covers

The Graduate Certificate in Social Enterprise Leadership comprises four subjects each involving nine weeks of part-time online study. Previously, successful completion of these subjects and the award of an Executive Certificate have resulted in various universities awarding credits towards their MBA Degrees. The four subjects that comprise this program include:

Leadership Acumen: (The ability to secure outcomes). The rising cost to society of under-employment, externalising business costs and under-employed assets provide growing opportunities for self-sustaining innovative social enterprises.  In essence the function of leadership is being reshaped by the challenging social environment of the 21st century. Leadership needs to shift from viewing their organisations as a cluster of functional silos to viewing them as inter-related integrated purposeful social impact systems. This shift has important consequences for how we think about the role of leadership in social enterprises. This subject views socially purposeful adaptive innovation as the core function of all future enterprises. Subject lecturer: Dr Stephen Duns.

Relational Acumen: (The ability to create and leverage trust). Enterprise leadership performance is dependent on the quality of relationships within and between stakeholder groups. These relationships need to be viewed as living entities that require continuous attention and dependent on sustaining mutual trust. This subject focusses on how an enterprise culture is created that mobilises the wisdom of the crowd through collaborative action while ensuring that stakeholders feel a sense of justice and don't unconsciously sabotage the enterprise’s endeavours?  Procedures that facilitate the emergence of such a culture be reviewed and applied to on-job challenges. Subject lecturer: Dr Leigh Gassner.

Commercial Acumen: (The ability to leverage commercial experiences). Leadership in the emerging social enterprise context is critically dependent on the ability to ask relevant questions and then make effective use of the answers. This subject reviews the basic experience driven know-how required to support commercial acumen, including an understanding of financial analysis principles and the uses and limitations of financial statements.  The subject makes extensive use of worked examples that include the commercial consequences of selected action. Subject lecturer: Dr Khimji Vaghjiani.

Strategic Acumen: (The ability to leverage strategic experiences). Reformulation of a social impact driven business model under conditions of environmental turbulence requires continuous adaptive understanding of the broader evolving strategic context. This will involve; Analysis of the strategic arena in which the social enterprise is embedded to generate relevant insights regarding the vulnerability of the current business model and where necessary rethink shifts in leadership that may be necessary given required leadership acumen and the participants identifies leadership strengths/weaknesses. Subject lecturer: Dr Ramzi Fayed.


What is Involved

Part-time enrolment requires 20 study hours per week over each 9 week session together with completion of a week by week assessable journal that collects leadership insights derived from interactions with others and set reflection tasks, followed by a 3000 word application assignment due at the conclusion of the session (included in the 20 hours per week). All subjects are offered each session and leave of absence is available if required due to workplace demands. If an Executive Certificate is not required, assignments are not required to be submitted and the competency assessment is voluntary.



A relevant bachelor degree and four years leadership experience or seven years of leadership experience for participants without a degree are required to enrol in the program.

Enrolment cycles: Each session runs for 9 weeks:

  • Session 1 – 23 January to 24 March
  • Session 2 – 24 April to 23 June
  • Session 3 – 10 July to 8 September
  • Session 4 – 2 October to 2 December

Enrolment fees: $2464 per subject. A full rebate of fees is available up to two weeks after commencement of the session if the participant is not able to proceed for any reason.


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