The Contemporary Leader – Course Info

A transformational programme for late 20s / 30s managers & leaders

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation”


Contemporary Leadership

Our process takes participants from their egoic selves right through to understanding the complexity of the systems they are working and living in. Along the way, core principles and tools of contemporary leadership that can be utilised immediately are seamlessly integrated into the programme. Hence there is a strong emphasis on how participants play in between sessions.

We have carefully curated what we have experienced to be the most relevant and impactful techniques to activate leadership in real-time. We use the Leadership Circle Profile 360 extensively, because it the only 360 that is set in a context of adult development.

While life situations become clearer for participants, challenges inevitably continue to arise but the deeper understanding of self means they are more able to hold their own, and less likely to be thrown off balance or overwhelmed. Simply put, we aim to build a strong foundation not just from which to lead but from which to live, work and play.

The Contemporary Leader

The future belongs not to those currently in power but those in their 30s or perhaps even late 20s who have reached a certain level of management where they are experiencing the realities of leadership. But often people feel either out of their depth or simply disillusioned with what leadership represents and this results in them not bringing their best game to the work of leadership.

For instance, in a workforce hell-bent on progress, lives become busier and this causes many to default to tried and tested approaches, which ironically work against the essence of innovation.

What many miss is that it is not about taming the system but achieving mastery of self; leadership is not a role, but a moment by moment way of being that enables one to separate out Ego from the job at hand. It is only from this place that this generation of leader cans truly step up to their own potential and that of the organisations in which they lead.

Might this be you?

You are in your late 20s – 30s and are in an established job where career progression is important to you. Any professional development you have experienced has been limited to your industry or networking events and seminars. While you might doubt your own ability in some areas, you already have responsibilities that require thought and/or people leadership, despite you still being unsure of what leadership might really mean for you. The Contemporary Leader course suits people to whom current leadership frameworks or even leaders themselves might not fully inspire.

You also may be stuck due to self-doubt, fear, repeated patterns tripping you up, feedback that has left you flummoxed or simply need guidance on where to go next.

You could do with some sort of ‘toolkit’ for immediate use to enhance how you play with others and perform in the workplace.

Desired Outcome

A more expansive leadership mindset and readiness to play in a far bigger way, and a new extended collegial network that’s with you all the way.

The Group Process

“Leadership is a contact sport”

Marshall Goldsmith

While it may feel that one is navigating this world alone, we are social beings. Because of this, working within a group process accelerates growth. To lead a team, one must understand being in a team and Play CoLab has developed an expertise in optimising group process which is also supported by individual coaching sessions with two experienced certified leadership coaches.

While it may feel that one is navigating this world alone, we are social beings. Because of this, working within a group process accelerates growth. To lead a team, one must understand being in a team and Play CoLab has developed an expertise in optimising group process.

The course is staged over a few months with the facilitators holding the group more intently in the early stages. As developing the group’s own skills in coaching leadership is a core part of the work, as the course progresses there is less dependence on the facilitators and the peer group itself starts to provide a supportive and learned perspective that extends beyond the course itself.

Note the groups are curated in a particular way. While there is diversity of sector and backgrounds, there will be a commonality in life stage or organisational position.

Because there are generational realities that effect everything from our worldview to funding & budgets, the process is initiated via a conversation with Play CoLab to ensure the course and the specific group is the right one for the participant.

Course Guide

Session 1: Authentic Leadership (5pm-9pm)
The evening before the course begins, the group experiences a facilitated introduction to one another. This session also explores contemporary leadership and where you sit within it considering questions such as: What is leadership anyway? There is a call to be ‘authentic’ in leadership but what does this really mean in a system that hasn’t changed that much? How much is ‘being yourself’ actually a risk to your progress? Where have you got to in thinking about your purpose?
Session 2 & 3: The Inner Game (9am-5pm, 2 day module)
This session nails the real habits of being that are keeping you both safe and stuck. It explores questions such as: How come certain people and situations trigger you? How do you get a handle on this? This session explores the concept of ego in relation to self, who you really are. This is not about what you are doing as a leader but who you are being as a leader.

All participants will undergo a 360 evaluation using The Leadership Circle Profile to understand their leadership strengths and further clarify key de-railers. This workshop unpacks the Leadership Circle so you fully understand which habitual ways of being will potentially propel you forward and which will hold you back.

> 2 week break
Session 4 & 5: Communication (9am-5pm, 2 day module)
When leaders speak, followers have an obligation to listen but while most people consider communications about speaking so others listen, this session challenges you to listen so others can speak. This highly experiential workshop challenges you to be more attentive to how you ask and listen, but also challenges you to more effectively ‘hold a room’.

> 3 week break
Session 6 & 7: From Groups to Systems (9am-5pm, 2 day module)
This module aims to stretch your understanding of organisational culture and how leaders contribute to or indeed limit the development of a contemporary leadership culture. Understanding how group process works is fundamental to running and contributing effective teams. We explore the concept of collective consciousness & how this impacts on the culture of teams and organisations.

We welcome Play Collaborator Dr. Jane Horan to work with the group. Jane is a social anthropologist with a particular expertise of economic anthropology and its impact on diversity & inclusion.

> 3 week break
Session 8: Integration (9am-5pm)
Our final session looks to integrate all concepts explored and challenges each participant to show up and be seen in a far more authentic light than ever before. The course ends with a celebratory dinner.

> 3 month break
Session 9: Impact (5.30pm-9pm)
We bring the group together 3 months after course completion to explore the impact of the programme. However, as part of the Play CoLab alumni, the cohort or individuals may wish to continue with one of the alumni course options.


Each participant has a one-on-one coaching session with Lead Facilitator Jenny Devine.

Each participant is also offered an informal session with Creative Mentor and past Play CoLab participant Yolande Dewey, who collaborates with Play CoLab in a pastoral care role.

Note that peer-to-peer coaching is also integrated into the programme to embed learnings.


Cost per participant

Auckland: $6,750 + GST
Includes coaching, workshops, and all other admin expenses.

Every group is around 8 people and every session is facilitated by at least two coaches. Through The Contemporary Leader programme you will be meeting Sandy Burgham, Jenny Devine, Jenna Wee and Yolande Dewey.
Read more about us here.

Note that we speak with all candidates and their executive sponsors before confirming their participation to ensure the workshops are the right leadership development approach for them.

Course Dates

We will confirm course dates as we curate the groups. The intention is to begin in Auckland in June 2020.


Auckland: Play CoLab, Level 8, 187 Queen Street, Auckland CBD


“I have attended a few trainings, conferences etc to develop my skills, but can honestly say that I have never had an experience like this. I have been searching for ways to develop myself further and I have definitely found that in Play. Learning so much more about myself reminding me of a Maori whakatauki ‘Titiro whakamuri, kokiri whakamaua’, ‘looking back and reflecting, so we can move forward’. Thank you for opening my mind to the journey I am on to returning to myself in order to be the best leader I can be in whatever space I find myself in.” – Aneta, CEO, Te Whanau Rangimarie Trust.

“The past six months has seen me develop more as a leader than I ever expected. I have taken a leadership position on issues that are culturally important to me, driven these, and been recognised for the organisational change I have affected. This would never have been as authentic or clear without sandy, her collaborators and my wonderful peer group on my Play course. This is not some textbook leadership development programme -you will expand your world view, hone your perspective and challenge your inner beliefs. I cannot recommend Sandy and team highly enough.” – Jane, Director, Professional Services

“I was recently nominated as an emerging leader in the New Zealand Women in Governance Awards. Part of the nomination called for my thoughts on the importance and value of gender diversity. From the work we did at Play and most importantly Sandy’s guidance and thought-provoking challenge, I was able to write an incredibly authentic application on my point of view in this space. I used the feedback from Play to hone my thoughts on what leaders of my generation have to offer regarding diversity and the increased awareness of the challenges in this space gained from the specific Play module on diversity gave me a solid basis for my view. I personally gained so much from this – and apparently the change has been noticed! So thank you! It has literally been life-changing.” – Karen, Manager, Corporate Secretariat, Public Sector

“Sandy and Jenny’s Conscious Leadership course was the catalyst of a profound, positive change in me. Like an X-Ray, it revealed what was hidden below the surface that needed healing in order for me to move forward. The group dynamic was an integral element to faster diagnosis, and greater insight into why we’re all in this together” – Kathleen, Sales and Marketing Lead

“Words can’t describe how overwhelmingly significant this course was for me as a leader and as a person.” – Holly, Marketer, Media & Entertainment Sector