Queensland Health

The early days of COVID-19 and the massive upheaval that workplaces experienced required leaders to think (and behave) very differently. An overnight shift to a work-from-home environment presented a unique challenge that required new skills…

The Client

Queensland Health is a Queensland government department which has an aim to improve the health of all Queenslanders.

On this particular occasion, we had the pleasure of providing leadership development to a group of senior leaders in QH’s Preventative Health Branch.

Queensland Health

The Challenge

March 2020 brought with it a significant change in the way organisations work across Australia. Workplaces were required to make the swift (and necessary) shift to having individuals work from home in a short space of time.

This presented leaders with the challenge of adapting to a new workplace dynamic; providing leadership, guidance, and support virtually – something unlike anything they’d ever done before. The fast paced move to remote working called for new leadership frameworks, shorter feedback loops, and a radical shift in workplace communication.

Senior leaders in Queensland Health’s Preventative Health Branch were keen to develop their skills in this area, reaching out to Pragmatic Thinking to ensure a strong focus on both performance and people.

Queensland Health

The Solution

When it comes to leading virtual teams, new skills are required. Traditional leadership methods won’t work, instead, they require a different focus, particularly in rapid change environments.

The goal is to focus on both Performance (what are we getting done) and People (are our people connected to the work and wellbeing) in a new way – this is where the Virtual Leaders program comes in.

The program is built on a foundation of performance and people, with specific skill development sessions digging into the areas of Psychology (change the way we think) Methodology (change the way we connect), and Technology (change the way we work) to ensure world-class leadership is achieved within distributed teams.

Pragmatic Thinking worked closely with this group of Queensland Health’s senior leaders to prepare for the sessions, getting them across the technology platform ensuring participants were ready to go from the first minute of the first module (no tech issues here).

Facilitated live from the TV production quality PTV studio, the Virtual Leaders program was rolled out through a series of six 90-minute engaging learning modules. Participants were able to apply their learnings almost immediately and had the opportunity to address key questions and issues from their context within the sessions.

The program was delivered in combination with downloadable resources and interactive discussion components to effectively embed new leadership behaviours.

Queensland Health
Queensland Health
Queensland Health
Queensland Health

The Outcome

Virtual learning is new for many leaders. The sense of being ‘zoomed-out’, and the question of ‘How engaging can virtual learning really be?’, can come up for leaders as they step into this new frontier.

The experience for Queensland Health leaders as part of this program was remarkably different.

Through the Virtual Leaders program, Pragmatic Thinking assisted this department in taking their leadership capability to a whole new level; strengthening communication across teams and between senior leaders, ensuring that they were able to move forward with confidence in an ongoing change environment.

The participants showed a deep trust and care for the teams they lead. This positive intent showed up in their willingness to step into key conversations, as well as the challenge of learning and applying. As the program was run over three weeks it provided the opportunity for participants to share their success stories in implementing strategies from the previous week.

Since the completion of the program, Queensland Health’s Preventative Health Branch has made the commitment to implement parts of the Virtual Leaders framework into their overarching management and leadership practices long-term. They have seen this as their new way of leading and re-imagining the workplace moving forward.

With many organisations playing catch-up in this space, this group of forward-thinking leaders is already ahead of the pack.

Glenn Austin


Queensland Health

We are currently planning for a ‘new reality’ workplace and the knowledge and insights gained from the program are feeding directly into strategies that focus on our people, performance and systems.

Glenn Austin

Policy and Planning at Queensland Health