MBAX9131 Leadership in a Complex Environment - 2018

Weekly, Sydney CBD
Weekly, Online
Term 3
6 Units of Credit

Offering Selection
This course outline is provided in advance of offering to guide student course selection. Please note that while accurate at time of publication, changes may be required prior to the start of the teaching session. To view other versions, visit the archives .

1. Course Details

Summary of Course

This course was developed in recognition of the fact that many businesses and organisations now operate in environments characterised by rapid change, complexity, uncertainty and the need to work across organisational boundaries. These work environments represent a leadership challenge to organisations and people who wish to instigate and drive change, lead teams, innovate or simply exert influence.

Teaching Times and Locations

Please note that teaching times and locations are subject to change. Students are strongly advised to refer to the Class Timetable website for the most up-to-date teaching times and locations.

View course timetable

Course Policies & Support

Course Aims and Relationship to Other Courses

This course aims to support students who are faced with this leadership challenge - to help them become more authentic, self-aware, creative, collaborative, flexible and effective leaders. There are no prerequisites for this course. This course has been designed for people who have not studied leadership or been involved with leadership development activities before. It can be taken at any stage in your degree program, although most past students have indicated that this course would be best done late in the Master’s program. The rationale being that it helps to bring a number of courses together, and the development of an individual leadership development plan helps to focus on the application of newly acquired knowledge and tools back in the workplace.
Students with experience leading project teams or teams of staff should benefit from being able to more easily contextualise the information presented in this course, but you do not need to be an assigned leader in an organisation to do the course. However, as most leadership development happens through ‘doing’ (see Unit 11) students who have access to environments where they can practise new approaches to leadership are likely to benefit the most from this course in the short term.
More specifically, this course aims to:

  • Provide emerging and established leaders working within rapidly evolving, complex environments (e.g. technology-based work environments) with opportunities to build self-awareness, acquire new knowledge and access practical tools to survive and thrive as leaders.
  • Introduce leadership frameworks (e.g. theories and conceptual models) and research findings that are relevant to work environments that involve complexity, rapid change, uncertainty and the need to innovate and collaborate across organisational boundaries.
  • Strengthen the leadership attributes (e.g. knowledge, networks and skills) needed to address business problems, exert influence and drive change in complex environments – this includes the ability to exert influence vertically (e.g. to engage executives) and laterally (e.g. to engage colleagues across organisational boundaries).
  • Provide practical guidance on leadership-development principles and techniques that can be used to manage one’s own development as well as to assist others (e.g. staff and mentees).
  • Facilitate opportunities for the sharing of views and experiences related to aspects of leadership and leadership development. This objective reflects the view that all students will have some relevant experience of leadership (e.g. of particular forms, challenges or strategies), and this experience represents a potential resource to each class.
  • Provide a structured opportunity for students to incrementally build a personalised leadership development plan using knowledge gained from the course content, exercises and facilitated discussions. The process of building this plan begins in Unit 1 and culminates in Unit 12. The development of this plan is also part of the course’s assessment framework.

This course will also help students to understand the leadership dimensions of different challenges that are explored in other parts of their university coursework (e.g. case studies involving change).

Additonal Course Details

2. Staff Contact Details

Position Name Email Location Phone Consultation Times
Course CoordinatorAndre Taylor
0438 182 709
Course CoordinatorAndre Taylor
0438 182 709

Course Coordinator
Each course has a Course Coordinator who is responsible for the academic leadership and overall academic integrity of the course. The Course Coordinator selects content and sets assessment tasks, and takes responsibility for specific academic and administrative issues related to the course when it is being offered. Course Coordinators oversee Class Facilitators and ensure that the ongoing standard of facilitation in the course is consistent with the quality requirements of the program.

Class facilitator
The role of your Class Facilitator is to support and enhance the learning process by encouraging interaction amongst participants, providing direction in understanding the course content, assessing participant progress through the course and providing feedback on work submitted for assessment. Class Facilitators comprise academics and industry practitioners with relevant backgrounds. They are your primary contact for matters that relate to this course.
You will be notified of your Class Facilitator’s name and contact details in your class confirmation email sent by AGSM Experience. Details will also be available in the gallery section of your online class for face-to-face and distance classes.

3. Learning and Teaching Activities

Approach to Learning and Teaching in the Course

This course has 12 Units which are described below. Class Facilitators may change the order in which the units are explored each week. For example, understanding the content of Units 11 and 12 is helpful to the process of progressively building an individual leadership development plan throughout the course. Such a plan needs to be built as part of Assignment 2.

Learning Activities and Teaching Strategies

Course Structure

5. Course Resources

Learning resources
You have four major resources to help you learn:

  1. The course materials, comprising the weekly study units with readings, references, reflection exercises, videos, insights and commentary. You will do much of your learning outside the classroom by working through the course materials, and by completing some reflection exercises.
  2. Your online or face-to-face classes with your Class Facilitator. The facilitator's job is to guide your learning by conducting weekly learning activities, answering questions that might arise after you have done the week’s work, providing insights from his or her practical experience and understanding of theory, providing you with feedback on your assignments, and directing discussions and debates that will occur between you and your co-participants in the classroom.
  3. Your co-participants. Your colleagues in the classroom are an invaluable potential source of learning for you. Their work and life, and their willingness to question and argue with the course materials, the facilitator and your views, represent a great learning opportunity.
  4. In addition to course-based resources, please also refer to the AGSM Learning Guide (available in Moodle) for tutorials and guides that will help you learn more about effective study practices and techniques. Students in this course often need to access this guidance to improve their academic writing and referencing skills.

Course materials

The course materials comprise this Course Overview, the Assessment Details and 12 Units. Each Unit has a number of associated readings.


Readings are provided as resources that you may choose to use, but are not compulsory. We have highlighted which readings we consider to be ‘highly recommended’, and ensured there are no more than two of these readings per Unit. Readings are available via active hyperlinks and URLs. Please note that you may be required to enter your UNSW zID and zPass in order to access these hyperlinked articles.


There is no prescribed textbook for this course. However, if students would like to acquire a single, broad-ranging and high-quality textbook on leadership to complement the course notes, the following book is recommended:

Northouse P 2016, Leadership: Theory and practice, 7th edn, SAGE, California, USA.

Other resources


UCo is AGSM’s Campus in the Cloud, a social platform that connects students, staff and faculty - enabling you to engage with each other across your courses and the AGSM outside of the formal Moodle setting. AGSM also uses this private network to communicate with you about extracurricular opportunities and events, and general updates on programs and courses. Enrolled students can access UCo using their zID and zPass at link.


BusinessThink is UNSW’s free, online business publication. It is a platform for business research, analysis and opinion. If you would like to subscribe to BusinessThink, and receive the free monthly e-newsletter with the latest in research, opinion and business then go to link.

6. Course Evaluation & Development

Continual Course Improvement

Our courses are revised each time they run, with updated course overviews and assessment tasks. All courses are reviewed and revised regularly and significant course updates are carried out in line with industry developments.
The AGSM surveys students each time a course is offered. The data collected provides anonymous feedback from students on the quality of course content and materials, class facilitation, student support services and the program in general. This student feedback is taken into account in all course revisions.

Student Response

The design of this course is now mature, as it was first delivered in 2013, has been run every year since then, and has been improved each year in response to student feedback and facilitator experience. Overall, the feedback from students in all sessions has been strongly positive. For example, student ratings for their overall satisfaction with the quality of the course has averaged over 5 on a 0 to 6 Likert-type scale in every session it has been run.
In Session 3 2017, the course was run in online and traditional weekly, face-to-face formats. Student ratings for their overall satisfaction with the quality of the course averaged 5.3 on the 0 to 6 Likert-type scale. Fifty-one (51) students responded to this survey. The average ratings for all 6 indicators of course quality in this survey averaged over 5.1 on the same scale.

Response to Student Feedback

The last round of student feedback in 2017 was used to make some improvements to the course, such as:

  • We have replaced Assignment 1 with a reflective piece of writing. It used to be a critical analysis of a leadership case study (i.e. a more academic exercise).
  • Both assignments are now done earlier in the course.
  • We have simplified the assessment rubrics/frameworks for Assignments 1 and 2 and increased the use of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational learning objectives.
  • We have slightly reduced the overall workload associated with Assignments 1 and 2.
  • We have simplified the requirements for the Covering Report as part of Assignment 2 (e.g. students can now write in the first person and no longer need to provide a completed checklist).

7. Course Schedule

For AGSM academic calendars and key dates please visit
Week Activity Topic Detail/Engagement Assessment Task
Week 1 Complete Unit 1, Participation Assessment Begins An introduction to leadership in a complex environment

Participation: attendance and learning activites (30%) begins

Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 2 Complete Unit 2Personal values, personality traits and self-leadership
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 3 Complete Unit 3Ethics and authentic leadership
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 4 Complete Unit 4, Participation FeedbackTransformational leadership

Receive written, qualitative feedback on your participation

Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 5 Complete Unit 5, Assignment 1Team leadership

Assignment 1: Reflection Report (30%) due Monday 15 October 2018 (Week 5) by 3pm Sydney time

Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Assignment 1: Reflection Report : Reflection Report
Week 6 Complete Unit 6Leadership for creativity and innovation
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 7 Complete Unit 7Power and influence
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 8 Complete Unit 8Complexity leadership
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 9 Complete Unit 9Emergent leadership
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 10 Complete Unit 10 Part A: Sustainability leadership; Part B: Social networking for leaders
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 11 Complete Unit 11Leadership development principles and methods
Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 13 Complete Unit 12, Assignment 2Individual leadership development plans

Assignment 2: Covering Report (40%) due Wednesday 12 December 2018 (Week 13) by 3pm Sydney time

Participation : Attendance and Learning Activities
Week 1 Complete Unit 1, Participation Assessment Begins, An introduction to leadership in a complex environment

Participation: Weekly discussion/learning activites (30%)

Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 2 Complete Unit 2Personal values, personality traits and self-leadership
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 3 Complete Unit 3Ethics and authentic leadership
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 4 Complete Unit 4, Participation FeedbackTransformational leadership

Receive written, qualitative feedback on your participation 

Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 5 Complete Unit 5, Assignment 1Team leadership

Assignment 1: Reflection Report (30%) due Monday 15 October 2018 (Week 5) by 3pm Sydney time

Assignment 1: Reflection Report : Reflection Report
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 6 Complete Unit 6Leadership for creativity and innovation
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 7 Complete Unit 7Power and influence
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 8 Complete Unit 8Complexity leadership
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 9 Complete Unit 9Emergent leadership
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 10 Complete Unit 10 Part A: Sustainability leadership; Part B: Social networking for leaders
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 11 Complete Unit 11Leadership development principles and methods
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 12 Complete Unit 12Individual leadership development plans
Participation : Weekly discussion/learning activities
Week 13 Assignment 2

Assignment 2: Covering Report (40%) due Wednesday 12 December 2018 (Week 13) by 3pm Sydney time

Assignment 2: Covering Report : Covering Report

8. Policies and Support

Information about UNSW Business School protocols, University policies, student responsibilities and education quality and support.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Business School places knowledge and capabilities at the core of its curriculum via seven Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs). These PLOs are systematically embedded and developed across the duration of all coursework programs in the Business School.

PLOs embody the knowledge, skills and capabilities that are taught, practised and assessed within each Business School program. They articulate what you should know and be able to do upon successful completion of your degree.

Upon graduation, you should have a high level of specialised business knowledge and capacity for responsible business thinking, underpinned by ethical professional practice. You should be able to harness, manage and communicate business information effectively and work collaboratively with others. You should be an experienced problem-solver and critical thinker, with a global perspective, cultural competence and the potential for innovative leadership.

All UNSW programs and courses are designed to assess the attainment of program and/or course level learning outcomes, as required by the UNSW Assessment Design Procedure. It is important that you become familiar with the Business School PLOs, as they constitute the framework which informs and shapes the components and assessments of the courses within your program of study.

PLO 1: Business knowledge

Students will make informed and effective selection and application of knowledge in a discipline or profession, in the contexts of local and global business.

PLO 2: Problem solving

Students will define and address business problems, and propose effective evidence-based solutions, through the application of rigorous analysis and critical thinking.

PLO 3: Business communication

Students will harness, manage and communicate business information effectively using multiple forms of communication across different channels.

PLO 4: Teamwork

Students will interact and collaborate effectively with others to achieve a common business purpose or fulfil a common business project, and reflect critically on the process and the outcomes.

PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Students will develop and be committed to responsible business thinking and approaches, which are underpinned by ethical professional practice and sustainability considerations.

PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

Students will be aware of business systems in the wider world and actively committed to recognise and respect the cultural norms, beliefs and values of others, and will apply this knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively in diverse environments.

PLO 7: Leadership development

Students will develop the capacity to take initiative, encourage forward thinking and bring about innovation, while effectively influencing others to achieve desired results.

These PLOs relate to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework programs.  Separate PLOs for honours and postgraduate research programs are included under 'Related Documents'.

Business School course outlines provide detailed information for students on how the course learning outcomes, learning activities, and assessment/s contribute to the development of Program Learning Outcomes.



UNSW Graduate Capabilities

The Business School PLOs also incorporate UNSW graduate capabilities, a set of generic abilities and skills that all students are expected to achieve by graduation. These capabilities articulate the University’s institutional values, as well as future employer expectations.

UNSW Graduate CapabilitiesBusiness School PLOs
Scholars capable of independent and collaborative enquiry, rigorous in their analysis, critique and reflection, and able to innovate by applying their knowledge and skills to the solution of novel as well as routine problems.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Entrepreneurial leaders capable of initiating and embracing innovation and change, as well as engaging and enabling others to contribute to change
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence
  • PLO 7: Leadership development

Professionals capable of ethical, self-directed practice and independent lifelong learning
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice

Global citizens who are culturally adept and capable of respecting diversity and acting in a socially just and responsible way.
  • PLO 1: Business knowledge
  • PLO 2: Problem solving
  • PLO 3: Business communication
  • PLO 4: Teamwork
  • PLO 5: Responsible business practice
  • PLO 6: Global and cultural competence

While our programs are designed to provide coverage of all PLOs and graduate capabilities, they also provide you with a great deal of choice and flexibility.  The Business School strongly advises you to choose a range of courses that assist your development against the seven PLOs and four graduate capabilities, and to keep a record of your achievements as part of your portfolio. You can use a portfolio as evidence in employment applications as well as a reference for work or further study. For support with selecting your courses contact the UNSW Business School Student Centre.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Academic Integrity is honest and responsible scholarship. This form of ethical scholarship is highly valued at UNSW. Terms like Academic Integrity, misconduct, referencing, conventions, plagiarism, academic practices, citations and evidence based learning are all considered basic concepts that successful university students understand. Learning how to communicate original ideas, refer sources, work independently, and report results accurately and honestly are skills that you will be able to carry beyond your studies.

The definition of academic misconduct is broad. It covers practices such as cheating, copying and using another person’s work without appropriate acknowledgement. Incidents of academic misconduct may have serious consequences for students.


UNSW regards plagiarism as a form of academic misconduct. UNSW has very strict rules regarding plagiarism. Plagiarism at UNSW is using the words or ideas of others and passing them off as your own. All Schools in the Business School have a Student Ethics Officer who will investigate incidents of plagiarism and may result in a student’s name being placed on the Plagiarism and Student Misconduct Registers.

Below are examples of plagiarism including self-plagiarism:

Copying: Using the same or very similar words to the original text or idea without acknowledging the source or using quotation marks. This includes copying materials, ideas or concepts from a book, article, report or other written document, presentation, composition, artwork, design, drawing, circuitry, computer program or software, website, internet, other electronic resource, or another person's assignment, without appropriate acknowledgement of authorship.

Inappropriate Paraphrasing: Changing a few words and phrases while mostly retaining the original structure and/or progression of ideas of the original, and information without acknowledgement. This also applies in presentations where someone paraphrases another’s ideas or words without credit and to piecing together quotes and paraphrases into a new whole, without appropriate referencing.

Collusion: Presenting work as independent work when it has been produced in whole or part in collusion with other people. Collusion includes:

  • Students providing their work to another student before the due date, or for the purpose of them plagiarising at any time
  • Paying another person to perform an academic task and passing it off as your own
  • Stealing or acquiring another person’s academic work and copying it
  • Offering to complete another person’s work or seeking payment for completing academic work

Collusion should not be confused with academic collaboration (i.e., shared contribution towards a group task).

Inappropriate Citation: Citing sources which have not been read, without acknowledging the 'secondary' source from which knowledge of them has been obtained.

Self-Plagiarism: ‘Self-plagiarism’ occurs where an author republishes their own previously written work and presents it as new findings without referencing the earlier work, either in its entirety or partially. Self-plagiarism is also referred to as 'recycling', 'duplication', or 'multiple submissions of research findings' without disclosure. In the student context, self-plagiarism includes re-using parts of, or all of, a body of work that has already been submitted for assessment without proper citation.

To see if you understand plagiarism, do this short quiz:


The University also regards cheating as a form of academic misconduct. Cheating is knowingly submitting the work of others as their own and includes contract cheating (work produced by an external agent or third party that is submitted under the pretences of being a student’s original piece of work). Cheating is not acceptable at UNSW.

If you need to revise or clarify any terms associated with academic integrity you should explore the 'Working with Academic Integrity' self-paced lessons available at:

For UNSW policies, penalties, and information to help you avoid plagiarism see: as well as the guidelines in the online ELISE tutorials for all new UNSW students: For information on student conduct see:

For information on how to acknowledge your sources and reference correctly, see: If you are unsure what referencing style to use in this course, you should ask the lecturer in charge.

Student Responsibilities and Conduct

Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to university policies in relation to class attendance and general conduct and behaviour, including maintaining a safe, respectful environment; and to understand their obligations in relation to workload, assessment and keeping informed.

Information and policies on these topics can be found on the 'Managing your Program' website.


It is expected that you will spend at least ten to twelve hours per week studying for a course except for Summer Term courses which have a minimum weekly workload of twenty to twenty four hours. This time should be made up of reading, research, working on exercises and problems, online activities and attending classes. In periods where you need to complete assignments or prepare for examinations, the workload may be greater. Over-commitment has been a cause of failure for many students. You should take the required workload into account when planning how to balance study with employment and other activities.

We strongly encourage you to connect with your Moodle course websites in the first week of semester. Local and international research indicates that students who engage early and often with their course website are more likely to pass their course.

View more information on expected workload


Your regular and punctual attendance at lectures and seminars or in online learning activities is expected in this course. The Business School reserves the right to refuse final assessment to those students who attend less than 80% of scheduled classes where attendance and participation is required as part of the learning process (e.g., tutorials, flipped classroom sessions, seminars, labs, etc.).

View more information on attendance

General Conduct and Behaviour

You are expected to conduct yourself with consideration and respect for the needs of your fellow students and teaching staff. Conduct which unduly disrupts or interferes with a class, such as ringing or talking on mobile phones, is not acceptable and students may be asked to leave the class.

View more information on student conduct

Health and Safety

UNSW Policy requires each person to work safely and responsibly, in order to avoid personal injury and to protect the safety of others.

View more information on Health and Safety

Keeping Informed

You should take note of all announcements made in lectures, tutorials or on the course web site. From time to time, the University will send important announcements to your university e-mail address without providing you with a paper copy. You will be deemed to have received this information. It is also your responsibility to keep the University informed of all changes to your contact details.

Student Support and Resources

The University and the Business School provide a wide range of support services and resources for students, including:

Business School EQS Consultation Program
The Consultation Program offers academic writing, literacy and numeracy consultations, study skills, exam preparation for Business students. Services include workshops, online resources, individual and group consultations.
Level 1, Room 1035, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 4508

Business School Student Centre
The Business School Student Centre provides advice and direction on all aspects of admission, enrolment and graduation.
Level 1, Room 1028 in the Quadrangle Building
02 9385 3189

UNSW Learning Centre
The UNSW Learning Centre provides academic skills support services, including workshops and resources, for all UNSW students. See their website for details.
Lower Ground Floor, North Wing Chancellery Building.
02 9385 2060

Educational Support Service
Educational Support Advisors work with all students to promote the development of skills needed to succeed at university, whilst also providing personal support throughout the process. Check their website to request an appointment or to register in the Academic Success Program.
John Goodsell Building, Ground Floor.
02 9385 4734

Library services and facilities for students
The UNSW Library offers a range of collections, services and facilities both on-campus and online.
Main Library, F21.
02 9385 2650

Moodle eLearning Support
Moodle is the University’s learning management system. You should ensure that you log into Moodle regularly.
02 9385 3331

UNSW IT provides support and services for students such as password access, email services, wireless services and technical support.
UNSW Library Annexe (Ground floor).
02 9385 1333

Disability Support Services
UNSW Disability Support Services provides assistance to students who are trying to manage the demands of university as well as a health condition, learning disability or who have personal circumstances that are having an impact on their studies. Disability Advisers can arrange to put in place services and educational adjustments to make things more manageable so that students are able to complete their course requirements. To receive educational adjustments for disability support, students must first register with Disability Services.
Ground Floor, John Goodsell Building.
02 9385 4734

UNSW Counselling and Psychological Services
Provides support and services if you need help with your personal life, getting your academic life back on track or just want to know how to stay safe, including free, confidential counselling.
Level 2, East Wing, Quadrangle Building.
02 9385 5418

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