Leaders nurture an environment that allows for multiple perspectives and challenges assumptions, and model openness to new ideas

This could be exemplified by a leader who:

  • Demonstrates willingness to explore creative solutions to problems and investigate new ways of working
  • Supports a learning-centred team, encouraging ongoing development of individual and team capability
  • Cultivates their own discipline-specific, technical, or professional knowledge
  • Actively seeks and utilises feedback to build personal effectiveness
  • Creates a learning and research environment for our students, staff and alumni which rewards excellence and innovation
  • Values a diverse workforce and creates an inclusive work environment that encourages a broad range of ideas and perspectives

Why is this capability important?

Learning is at the core of UQ. We aim to create an environment that fosters learning in all its forms – for our students, for our researchers, and for our organisation as a whole. We encourage our staff across all areas of the University to ask questions and look for better ways, and to continually seek to innovate in teaching, research and organisational practices.

What does it look like when it's done well?

  • Leaders encourage those around them to look for improved ways of working.
  • All UQ employees are able to contribute suggestions that are taken seriously.
  • Ideas and practices are open for respectful debate, regardless of who contributed them.
  • Leaders seek feedback about how they are performing, and use this feedback to improve their own effectiveness.
  • All staff are encouraged to continue developing their personal and professional capability.
  • Teams are learning-centred, continually investing in improving their effectiveness.
  • Leaders appreciate, actively seek and utilise a diverse range of perspectives, including those informed by different backgrounds, experiences and personalities.

Strategies for developing this capability

  • Model personal learning by seeking out projects or assignments which you know will stretch you. Encourage others around you to do the same.
  • Review both successes and failures for potential learning and improvements. Give major projects a full evaluation, or for more day-to-day work activities, consider using a ‘Keep, Stop, Start’ method – after an event, identify one thing that was effective which you should keep doing, one thing that was ineffective that you should stop doing, and one thing to start doing (something you didn’t do which would have been useful).
  • Regularly set aside time for idea generation and innovation. Use this as a space to be creative, to think laterally and to look for new ideas. Set yourself up to think differently – this might mean using a particular idea or object as a stimulus, changing your environment or getting outside, or talking to somebody you wouldn’t normally talk to about a question.
  • Use structured thinking tools such as a fishbone analysis to uncover the root cause of problems, or Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats to generate new possibilities.
  • If you are responsible for appraisals and performance planning, ensure that you give adequate consideration to the capability development conversation. Look for projects that will enable your team to develop the capabilities they need to work towards their career goals.
  • Where appropriate, adopt a coaching orientation with your team. Coaching considers that coachees have the answers that they require, so the role of the coach is to support coachees to work through the dilemma..
  • Consider mentoring as an effective means of development. Learning from others is highly effective and mentoring need not be an onerous or long-term arrangement.
  • Encourage teams to discuss work or dilemmas with a broad range of people to gather diverse perspectives.
  • Try looking for answers outside of your own field. If you are a scientist, what would an economist think about your dilemma? What can our HR and Marketing and Communications teams learn from each other?
  • Try small experiments with new ideas or innovations. How can you ‘pilot’ an idea to test and refine it before you implement more broadly?
  • Learn from what’s already working. What are the characteristics of successful projects or initiatives in your area? What makes them work, and how can you apply this to other areas of your work?

Resources and readings

  • De Bono, E. (2000). Six thinking hats. London: Penguin.
    UQ Library record
  • Wick, C. W., & León, L. S. (1993). The learning edge: How smart managers and smart companies stay ahead. New York: McGraw Hill.
    UQ Library record
  • Wilson, P. S. (2012). Make mentoring work. Highett, Vic.: Major Street Publishing.
    UQ Library record


Explore the seven leadership capabilities:

Have feedback on the framework? Suggestions for improvement? Resources to share?
Email the UQ Leadership team.