Leadership@Play – Course Info

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

Play Contemporary Leadership CoLab is a hub of thinkers and doers invested in raising the consciousness of leaders. As well as helping organisations navigate culture change in these complex times, we create future-focused leadership initiatives and experiences that fundamentally shift the worldview of people and organisations.

Since we created Play CoLab in 2016, the demand for the way we approach leadership development has steadily increased with the result that of the many courses we have run to date, almost all have been filled via referral from participants who have already completed a programme.

This is because the Play CoLab process of leadership development is quite unlike traditional leadership development training. It has its foundations in working with individuals in the most fundamental way, freeing them from old patterns of conditioning so they develop greater mastery over self and thus more choice to experience the world with sharper perception and more acute awareness.

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’s 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 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.

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.

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.


The four-module course is spread over 3-4 months. How one plays in between modules is as crucial as what is discovered in the module itself. Each participant receives individualised one on one coaching from two experienced leadership coaches after the first and second modules.


Held in one evening and two consecutive full days, this module considers the belief systems and narratives that have brought you to where you are at this point in time. Understanding how belief systems are constructed (and hence can be deconstructed) is liberating as it opens up new possibilities for being.

Session 1: Setting the Scene
This evening session sets the tone for how the participants will play over the months ahead.

Session 2: Understanding Ego
This session nails the real habits of being that are keeping you both safe and stuck. It explores questions such as: How come some 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.

Session Three: The Impact of your Inner Game
All participants will undergo a 360 evaluation using The Leadership Circle Profile to understand their leadership strengths and further clarify potential derailers. 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.

Increasingly leadership is understood as a balance of exceptional people and task competency, hence this two-day module focuses on the most critical leadership skill of communication.

Session Four: Ask, Listen, Tell
We introduce a highly effective communication framework and toolkit to immediately enhance the participants’ ability to a) ask the right questions to unlock possibility, b) listen to understand a situation more fully, and c) hold a room with a far stronger presence.

Session Five: The Group Process
Continuing on from Session Four, we dive more deeply into an understanding of group patterns and team dynamics including techniques to consider and implement when leading teams

This two-day module considers the context in which leadership sits.

Session Six:
We welcome Play collaborator Dr Jane Horan, a cultural anthropologist with a specialty in economic systems, who sharpens our understanding of organizational culture

Session Seven
It has been said that ‘the leader brings the weather’. We consider leadership must be viewed in the broadest possible context: one that connects the personal to the global and incorporates legacy and impact.


Session Eight:
This final one-day session looks to integrate all concepts explored and challenges the participant to show up in a more authentic light than ever before. All participants set a leadership intention for their journey beyond the programme and we end with a final celebratory dinner.
Note that at this point the group has begun a process of peer coaching to support their on-going development.

Post Course – Impact Session
While we invite the cohort back in six months to explore the impact of the course, we also have follow-up course options for alumni, either as individuals or as a cohort.


Each participant receives two 90 minute individualized coaching sessions with two experienced leadership coaches. (Any further coaching during or post-course is arranged privately but note that the course itself is designed to dramatically reduce dependency of one on one coaching).

A peer-to-peer coaching programme is introduced after Module Three that helps all participants not just receive coaching but practice and refine their coaching leadership skills learnt on the course. This extends beyond the course itself.

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 type role.

Note that all participants have a conversation with Play CoLab before the course starts. This will help ensure the course is the right one for the participant and that the group is curated in a way that enhances the experience for all.

Is this course right for you?

You may be a Divisional Head or CEO/MD depending on the organisation and sector. You may have had some professional development or leadership coaching already but sense the need for something perhaps deeper and more fundamental to shift the way you play.

You are self-aware enough to know that repeated patterns may be tripping you up and may even have had some feedback about your leadership that has left you flummoxed or out of ideas on how to really shift you and your team’s output and impact.

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

You are fully prepared to be challenged in a safe environment.

And you might be aware of a nagging voice at the back of your head that says “so, now what?”


Cost per participant $11,500 plus GST
Includes coaching, workshops, and all other admin expenses.
All modules take place at Play CoLab in Queen Street Auckland City.

Lead Facilitators/Coaches: Sandy Burgham & Jenny Devine.
Every curated group is around 8 people and every session is facilitated by at least two coaches.

Read about us here.

Course Dates


1.       Mon 21 Sep 5pm – 9pm (Intro evening)
2.       Tues 22 Sep 
3.       Wed 23 Sep  
4.       Mon 5 Oct  
5.       Tues 6 Oct  
6.       Wed 28 Oct  
7.       Thurs 29 Oct  
8.       Mon 23 Nov  
9.       Mon Dec 14 – (full day & incl. dinner afterwards)

Note that there is some flexibility on dates. As the cohort numbers are small i.e. 8-9 pp maximum and thus it is usually easy to accommodate a date clash if we know in advance.


Most of our participants come to Play CoLab via referral. We encourage anyone new to our work,  to talk to one or two past participants about their experience (we can facilitate an introduction).

Linda Biddle, COO, Wellbeing Sector

“This programme is resulting, without a doubt, in the most powerful personal change and development I have undertaken in my life to date and, at my age, I’ve seen quite a lot and so don’t make that statement lightly. While the work I do is unchanged, the way I see the work and myself as part of it, and the system it sits within, is remarkably different –meaning that I see the way I can have real impact on some deep systemic challenges has shifted. This is a powerful personal programme that you cannot be unchanged by and I highly recommend it to those looking for more from themselves.”

Mike O’Sullivan, Executive Creative Director, Marketing

Play CoLab opened up my mind to directions and thinking I’d never have contemplated. I thought I was in a ‘good space’ before I started. Little did I know how much I would learn and develop. Not just in business, but personally as well. The mixture of people on the course was amazing, their backgrounds and skills were so diverse. And these people will probably be friends for life. If you think you’re good at what you do or are not sure what you’re going to do -this is the course to take. There’s no way, you’ll complete it without getting something.

Craig W., Product Director

Leadership@Play has been a personal revelation. It has helped me take time to observe and understand my own behaviours, and how these behaviours can affect those I work with and lead. Sandy and Jenny are brilliant facilitators and trainers. The course content is deep and thought-provoking. The impact it has had on my personal and professional life has been significant and ongoing. I cannot recommend the course highly enough.” 

Amanda, CEO, Not-for-Profit

“I had the privilege of attending Play’s Established Leaders Programme. It was an experience like no other. No text book leadership doctrines here –instead a perfectly curated group, content that challenged me
to look inside first, and an appreciation of the power of consciousness within leadership. I use the things I learned at Play every day –both in my professional leadership, but also in the way I manage myself. I have learned to play the ‘inner-game’ and I understand that mastering that will be a lifetime’s work.”

Karen, Managing Director, Creative Sector

“Play’s Established Leaders Programme was an astounding, insightful, energising and inspiring experience for me. It has had a huge impact on the way I go about my leadership day-to-day and I recommend it to anyone with curiosity and enthusiasm around being the very best leader they can be.”

Jane, MD, Communications Industry

“I made the mistake thinking doing this course would just help me get my next promotion. I underestimated it totally. This experience isn’t a management course in that way. It unpacks you at your very core and rebuilds you into a more conscious and egoless leader in business and more importantly in life. You discover what is real about YOU and identifies the masks you have built along the way. The impact is profound on you and the people around you. Every leader at a senior level should do this despite how confronting it can be at times.”