Get out of the weeds
Go beyond potholes and barking dogs. Learn to ask great questions, interrogate systems and make changes to the big picture.
Get out of the weeds and into the future. Learn the skills to be an effective civic leader, as an elected member or Council officer.
My first job out of university was at a small Council in the South Island of New Zealand. Despite a four-year politics degree, I walked into my policy job with no real idea what local government was about.
I walked around in a daze for the first few months - you mean, people could speak DIRECTLY to their elected members… and we had to ANSWER them?! Direct democracy in action? Are you serious?! I was blown away. I still am.
Despite leaving that job 4 years later, I was never really able to leave local government. Anyone in the sector knows what I’m talking about. It burrows into your heart - the community connection, the tangible impact - and none of the frustrations (of which there are many!) are enough to keep you away for long.
Despite growing my business in all kinds of directions since, my heart remains in local government.
My expertise is in strategic planning and leadership. I’ve worked with dozens of Councils across New Zealand and Australia to get clear on their direction and build the skills for legacy leadership. For years that meant one-off workshops, and tri-annual strategy sessions.
Then, in 2022, I was the headline act for the Australian Local Government Association annual conference - and this was a BIG DEAL. I’m talking 3 days of me on stage as MC, plus the opening keynote, a leadership masterclass, and over 1,000 Mayors and CEOs walking away with a copy of my book. Holy moly. Career highlight.
I realised I had to offer something amazing to all these wonderful new fans. Something special. Something that hadn’t been done before. Something that would bring my unique set of skills (Liam Neeson style) to the sector.
That’s when Strategic Public Leaders was born.
“This is the only way to do it, with governance and management in the same room. We had councillors with a little experience and those with a lot, senior managers and team leaders, and we could step out up and out of our siloes, with everyone happy to speak up. Our focus now is to continue to lead the way.”
Local government is one of the most challenging sectors to lead in - you're under intense media scrutiny, closely connected to your communities and have to make long-term choices in short-term conditions.
Bureaucracy is rampant, stakeholders are plentiful and progress can be painfully slow.
Strategic Public Leaders is here to help you leave a legacy you can be proud of. We bring governance and management together and learn the skills you’ve always needed to think long-term, get out of the operational weeds and make great decisions for your community.
Strategic Public Leaders is designed specifically for the needs of local government leaders.
Most leadership development programs are off the shelf and targeted at the private sector. Elected members learn to be company directors, Council officers learn to be corporate executives - and communities miss out on the leadership they really need.
SPL is just for local leaders. We know you're resource-constrained, time-poor, and pulled in a dozen directions, so we don't waste time with impractical theory.
We get runs on the board, fast, by learning skills you can put to the test in the room. Perfect for a mid-term circuit breaker or new Council induction.
Role clarity between governance and management
Decision-making tools and frameworks
An understanding of systems thinking
Communication and influence skills
Unity and a shared purpose
Starts at $25K NZD (+ travel, and GST, if any)
Strategic Public Leaders has transformed relationships, decision quality and strategic implementation at Councils across Australia and New Zealand. Are you next?
I have to use that overused word: "transformative"! This programme clarified and validated a lot of hazy thoughts I had re: strategic thinking and leadership. It has also given me a lot of practical info which I'm looking forward to applying at work.
Engaging, credible, love the no-nonsense, straight-talking. There are some short-term changes we're going to make - like more critically reviewing the agendas going up to Council, and kicking off each of our focus groups with time to set the bigger picture. There are some longer term behaviour things (like answering questions with 'serve the room') that I'm going to work on too. Thanks very much Alicia - I'm really hoping this will spark a step change for us.
Fantastic - I loved Alicia's ability to engage with everyone regardless of age/background/experience; knowledge of the sector and the common issues; ability to distil complex issues; incredible energy! Thanks - we will be a better Council because of you and this workshop
This course completely took me out of the day to day noise and gave me tools to focus on what is going to make a difference. Took me out of my ego. It's not about me delivering more/better/bigger, it's about having an impact and doing it in a way that works for the people impacted.
Knowledgeable, relatable, engaging and most of all fun. Learning is easy when it’s fun.
I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the session and the interaction between councillors and staff. We are all working towards the same goal which is to make our place a better place for the community. We can disagree but still work towards this goal. no concerns. The two days were fantastic and well facilitated by Alicia who definitely knows her stuff and knows how to get everyone to participate.
I noticed over the course of the 2 days a definite shift in elected member approach to be more inviting of real conversation and acceptance of good public leadership principles. The workshop content and the presentation by Alicia was outstanding. Well balanced and honest content, and extremely well delivered
The valuable things we learned were about approaching Council business more constructively & with more self honesty. Alicia's facilitation was brilliant, and I'll be using the methods you introduced us to over the 2 days.
A reassuring reminder that delivering the 'product' of community good is really hard....and trade-offs are hard....but we really just need to start making them. We are not being effective or achieving our outcomes by continuing to try to do/ deliver everything to everyone....we need to start deciding who we are going to let down and how (and who) we are going to tell them.
Really can't say enough times how great and on point for me as a newly first time elected member and by purposely sitting away from others on my Board I felt I also got a huge amount of sharing by experienced elected members. Alicia's facilitation was superb.
Thank you so much - it was such an important initiative and has made an enormous difference already, can't wait to see where we will be at further down the track.
Strategic leaders operate with a long-term vision, and take immediate action toward a better future.
When leaders are strategic, they play a long game, carefully build relationships and shape organisations to serve communities and deliver lasting impact.
With more strategic leaders at the helm, your teams make decisions that turn your vision and direction into actionable programmes of work.
Decisions stick, managers are confident and engaged, and there is high trust between governance, management and community stakeholders, enabling everyone to focus on what they do best.
Snippet from an ALGA Masterclass, June 2022. Alicia McKay explains the difference between public and private sector strategy.
When politicians and professionals come together to shape their community's future, magic happens.
Learn how Alicia McKay supported this local Council to clarify their long-term vision and set strategic priorities for progress.
Then, enquire about Alicia's support with your community plan or organisational strategy.