The Opportunity

ANZ faced a daunting development challenge. After a top-to-bottom refresh of strategy, vision, values and purpose, the company turned its attention to leadership behaviours. Its internal team thoroughly researched and articulated the hallmarks of effective leadership for the company. But how could they spread the word and train all managers in these behaviours?

The HR team knew that anything that looked like conventional training would fail. In addition, the company’s global scale made face-to-face development prohibitively expensive. Even the options for an online deployment were limited due to security concerns and inadequate availability of common communication technology across the company. ANZ approached Maximus for a fresh idea.

The barrier to change is less about knowledge and information and more about how hard it can be to change everyday habits


Over the course of two months, a team of internal learning professionals and external Maximus consultants created the conditions for a learning-oriented social movement to spread the practice of desired leadership behaviours. Just as new ideas and methods typically start with a small group of interested individuals, so too this effort was seeded by a brave group of early adopters. The 60 catalysts, as they were called, were invited to “accept a challenge”; to adopt one of several leadership habits for five days in a row.

They were offered a choice of more than a dozen potential habits, and were also free to create their own. They had the opportunity to experiment with a new habit, get help from others, and most importantly reflect on their experience in peer groups comprised of a coach and other catalysts.

 “This experience is literally changing the person I am at work. It is a very big change and hard work.”



Senior Leader ANZ


The performance data speaks to a movement with impact: ANZ has seen more than 3,500 “challenges accepted”, and over 4,500 leaders have so far been nominated to participate. That’s more than half the leaders ANZ had targeted to take part, and their participation was voluntary, not mandatory or driven by HR.

As in most cases of learning and transformation, participants’ reflections offer the greatest insights. For example, one leader who took the challenge to personally connect with his team reported after a week, “This experience is literally changing the person I am at work. It is a very big change and hard work.”

For more on the benefits of using social leadership learning to enable organisational transformation, download our Challenge Accepted whitepaper

Photography by Pauline Langmead / Melbourne Photography

“What was most impactful was seeing the positive effects on our leaders not only in their professional lives but in their personal lives. This plays straight into our broader purpose – to shape a world where people and communities thrive.”


Jane Fraser – Group Head of Leadership & Talent ANZ