Executive Leadership Program - Co-operatives and Mutuals

The Executive Leadership Program for Co-operatives and Mutuals (ELP-CM) has been specifically designed to address the unique challenges faced by managers in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs). 

​There are already a significant number of management development programs in the market. However, many of these courses do not meet the specific requirements of managers from the co-operative and mutual enterprise sector. The need for a dedicated course for these managers is due to the unique nature of the co-operative enterprise business model.

Many aspects of the way co-operative and mutual enterprises are managed are similar to more conventional businesses. However, there are also many important differences. These relate to areas such as their governance, accounting procedures, distribution of share capital and voting rights, human resources, communications, marketing and strategic purpose.

About the program

The program has been designed by Winthrop Professor Tim Mazzarol and Dr Elena Limnios, recognised experts in the field, following extensive research into the needs of co-operative and mutual organisations. The program's focus is on sustainability, performance, and resilience of co-operative and mutual organisations. The program applies theory and industry best practice to the organisational realities of the participants.
In addition, the leadership requirements of high performance co-operative and mutual organisations will be assessed and participants will be given the opportunity to better understand their own leadership strengths and opportunities. This self reflection will be achieved through sessions that are both challenging and respectful, allowing participants to learn from each other's leadership styles.
The program is proudly supported by Co-operative Bulk Handling Group Ltd.



I found participation in this program to be a rejuvenating and a motivating experience as the program contained new and interesting challenges each day. The presenters were very supportive of the whole group and presented topics that were full of relevant and current content. I left the sessions feeling empowered and positive given the opportunity to meet and mix with a group of fellow cooperatives with similar issues and opportunities. It was a valuable insight for me to experience the pure power of participating in the support groups by sharing information and being exposed to a broad range of knowledge and skills that will help me immensely in the future. The program has certainly increased my ability to work closer with my board and hopefully will produce better outcomes for all stakeholders in the future.

(Kevin Ford Chief Executive Officer, Mount Barker Co-Operative Limited Participant 2014)

The program had a profound impact on my understanding of our Co-Operative and Mutual Enterprise and has affirmed for me why we do the things we do. I now understand the research behind them and as a result I can better communicate the value that our social capital activities provide, in a world where often financial metrics are the only common language. Since the program I have re-framed our corporate governance policy with reference to the 7 principles and also our measurement of value to our members being defined via social and financial metrics. 

Paul Amos, People Relations Manager, The Co-op Heart of the Barossa (Participant 2015)

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of the program participants will be able to:
  • Compare and contrast the co-operative and mutual business model with that of investor-owned businesses.
  • Exhibit knowledge of the co-operative and mutual business model as it exists locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply their understanding of co-operative and mutual enterprise business model dynamics to the solving  of managerial problems.
  • Have greater insight into their personal leadership strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to their organisation's imperatives.
  •  Evaluate the impact and make strategic decisions in relation to:
  1. government policies and legal environments
  2. competitive market dynamics
  3. social cooperation within their member community, and
  4. the impact of the natural environment.
  • Understand the nature of member loyalty and engagement within a co-operative and mutual enterprise and how to strengthen and retain member commitment.