About the programme

The programme is funded by the Ministry of Health and has been developed following extensive consultation with the sector. PHLP builds leadership competencies identified as important for leaders in public health.

The programme has been developed by Catapult (specialist leadership and organisational performance consultancy) and Quigley and Watts. PHLP is facilitated by Catapult’s co-founder Andrea Thompson, who has led the programme since its inception in 2010.

PHLP will allow you to discover your leadership potential and equip you with practical and tested leadership tools and resources. The programme will generate immediate and lasting benefits for you, those you lead, and for public health.

PHLP has a six-day leadership component delivered as three two-day sessions.

What’s involved


Getting full value from the Public Health Leadership Programme (PHLP) requires an enquiring mind, a willingness to participate, and a commitment to implement learning back in your workplace. Pre-work ensures you enter the programme ready for an intensive and accelerated learning experience.

Participants need to allow at least two days for pre-work before Workshop One and between workshop sessions. Pre-work includes:

  • undertaking 360-degree feedback on how you are performing in relation to the public health leadership competencies. This feedback will be debriefed one-on-one prior to the programme with a professional coach. The feedback will help you identify your learning objectives for the programme
  • completing an online assessment tool (DISC) which identifies your primary leadership style at work. A comprehensive personalised report is received during the programme
  • answering pre-work questions and completing pre-readings to help you focus on the programme content.

Six programme days

PHLP programmes are six days in total. These six days are divided into three sets of two days spread over several months.

It is essential to attend the full programme and full workshop days. 


As well as debriefing your 360-degree feedback, you will have one-on-one coaching by a professional coach after each workshop component. Coaching is a great way of ensuring you maximise the value from PHLP.

Action learning

It is expected that participants will design and implement projects to apply programme insights back at work.

Leaderlabs (peer groups)

It is expected that participants will form peer groups. Groups will communicate between workshop sessions to support implementation of programme content.


All PHLP graduates will become part of the PHLP Alumni, receiving regular e-news and opportunities to participate Alumni events and workshops.

Session outlines

What’s covered in the three Public Health Leadership Programme workshops.

Workshop one: Leading self

What is leadership?

We explore what leadership is, how it differs from management, and what’s expected of leaders. We provide a Leadership Map to guide you through the territory of leadership.

Your leadership backbone

There is no one best type of leader. What’s important is leading in a way that is real and authentic for you. This requires self- awareness, self-belief and clarity about what you believe in and stand for. In this session you clarify your purpose, values and create an inspiring leadership vision for yourself.

Leadership styles

Leaders are flexible and adaptable, able to employ different leadership styles for different situations. Using the DISC behavioural styles framework we explore the impact of different leadership styles. You receive your own comprehensive DISC report which reveals your primary leadership style, including strengths and areas to work on.

Ethics and values of public health

We explore the values of public health. We engage in ethical issues that emerge in public health.

Workshop two: Strategic leadership

Seeing the big picture

Effective leadership involves being aware of the broader context. Workshop Two begins with exploring global megatrends and systems thinking tools to understand challenges and opportunities facing public health.

Creating a backbone for your public health issue

We explore how to co-create the core foundations for making progress on public health issues: shared purpose, vision and strategy.

Political savvy

Successful leaders know how to manage government and organisational politics. They take the initiative and they forge consensus. Ultimately, they help others maximise their impact. This session addresses how successful leaders operate ethically behind the scenes. You will analyse your own political style, and understand the strategies and tactics used by ethical leaders. You will learn how to navigate political minefields so you can increase your influence in your organisation and in public health.

Leading change through people

Leaders bring about change – taking people to new places and bringing about new ways of doing things. We explore the dynamics of leading change and what it takes to align people to the change you want to bring about.

Workshop three: Delivering results

Collaborative working

Great leaders are able to work collaboratively. We explore the challenges and opportunities for working collaboratively in public health. You are equipped with strategies to engage and sustain others in collaborative working relationships.


Leaders are influential – using interpersonal savvy to deliver results. In this session we explore how to influence others ethically. You will learn how to create a strategic influencing plan.


Effective leaders bring out the best in others through coaching. You will learn and practise key coaching skills.

Having courageous conversations

Leaders sometimes have to tackle challenging conversations. We will explore how to turn challenging conversations into learning conversations.

Leadership development plan

In this session you create a plan for your ongoing leadership development.

How to apply

Selection criteria

The following criteria will guide selection. Participants should meet many of the selection criteria.

  • Currently in a leadership role
  • At least three years’ experience in public health in New Zealand
  • Demonstrate commitment to core values of public health and to advancing equity in health outcomes
  • Demonstrate commitment to remain in public health
  • Regarded by others as a leader, eg, asked to mentor others, history of being asked to take responsibility by community for central activities, takes the lead on a particular issue
  • Evidence of self-motivation with the passion and ability to make a significant difference in public health

The following additional criteria will also guide the selection decisions:

  • Māori
  • Pacific or Asian
  • currently employed in public health role
  • seniority and strategic influence
  • in management/team leader roles
  • hold public health qualifications.


For enquiries about the online application process, contact Annie Davey:
Email: annie.davey@health.govt.nz

For enquiries about the programme, contact Philippa Nicholson:
Email: philippa@catapult.co.nz