The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is the principal revenue collection agency of the Australian Government.

It is responsible for effectively managing and shaping the tax, super and registry systems that support and fund essential services for Australians.

Deliverables

  • Research
  • SES Leadership strategy development
  • SES masterclass facilitation
  • Conference presentation
  • Culture strategy refresh

In 2014 when Commissioner Chris Jordan AO took over leadership of the ATO, The Being Group CEO Siebert Neethling was approached to develop the ATO’s first comprehensive leadership strategy. This formed a cornerstone of the agency’s highly successful Reinvention Program, implemented in 2015.

As a result of the success of that strategy, the ATO turned to BEING in 2022, when the need arose for a new SES Leadership strategy in response to changes in the global landscape and the challenges that come with it.

Along with a refreshed and refocused Culture strategy, a memorable new SES Leadership strategy needed to make an impact now and into the future.

SES Leadership strategy

Development of the new strategy began with applied and theoretical research into leadership in Australia and abroad, and extensive consultation with ATO leaders and employees at all levels, in both interviews and focus groups settings. Perspectives were also gathered from other stakeholders including clients of the ATO, government officials and leaders in other government departments, tax agents, and stakeholder groups representing small businesses, Indigenous entrepreneurs and more.

Practicality and ensuring that people will actually use the strategy were a core focus of development.

This is delivered through considered language that ATO leaders use every day, and a concise yet comprehensive three-part structure.

The first identifies the factors that inform the SES Leadership strategy, including trends driving leadership of the future, and five paradoxes, challenges and competing demands, each based on a binary. The strategy is further contextualised through alignment with the Australian Public Service values and capability framework.

In response to the opportunities and challenges ahead, the next section defines the expectations for all senior leaders to adopt and develop four key leadership attributes.

Finally, four tiers or levers clearly outline how the ATO will bring the strategy to life, through awareness of the strategy itself, new and existing initiatives, and personalised development pathways.

Considered measures of success allow the ATO to ensure the strategy is serving its purpose of guiding its SES cohort to navigate leadership in a new world.

Facilitation and presentation

Following finalisation of the SES Leadership strategy, BEING supported the ATO to ensure their leaders understood and believed in it. The Being Group CEO Siebert Neethling conducted a series of nine masterclasses with the SES around the country, focusing on explaining the strategy and its evidence base, and helping people explore ways they could implement it.

Siebert also presented the SES Leadership strategy at an ATO leadership conference, inspiring the leaders to make it their own.

Culture strategy refresh

The ATO sought BEING’s help to refresh the successful ATO Culture strategy. Following extensive rapid change, challenges and increased demands, it was clear that staff were overly familiar with the Culture strategy and it was beginning to feel forced.

Evaluation of the existing strategy identified where improvements were needed and which sections were still working. Layers of complexity were then removed or simplified, and new initiatives added to strengthen and refocus the strategy’s impact.

The refreshed Culture strategy is clearer, more focused, and easier to support, and aligns with the new SES Leadership strategy and other strategic plans. It is enabling the ATO to scale up the impact of its culture work and strengthen its response to new challenges.

Thank you for joining us at the ATO’s recent SES Leadership Conference. Your strategy implementation session was of great value to all in attendance. The Bradbury story and real world case studies were an impactful way to ground our leadership strategy and underpinning attributes.  You have officially redefined “doing a Bradbury” in the mental dictionary of over 200 people.

In his opening address, Chris referred to the strategy as our playbook for success that will guide the ATO through the next phase of our transformation journey. Reflecting on the feedback we’ve received and discussions that were had during the conference, the strategy positions us really well for what’s coming in 2023 and beyond. Shining through the comments from our SES is how well the four attributes resonate, the strong alignment to APS Reform and the extent to which messaging is already being mirrored throughout the organisation.

Thank you once again for your time and expertise across strategy development, recent masterclasses, and contributions at the conference. Always a pleasure to work with you.

Alison Doyle
Assistant Commissioner, ATO

I was very inspired by your presentation at the ATO leadership conference today. I’ve seen you in action a few times now and you have an amazing talent.

Sean Voegt
Assistant Commissioner, ATO

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