Navigating today’s complex leadership landscape; Dr Thornton accepts challenge

Menzies Foundation is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Aiden M. A. Thornton, Leadership Scientist and Management Consultant, as the Menzies Senior Research Fellow in Leadership and Complexity.

This appointment, based at the Australian National University in the School of Cybernetics, marks a significant step towards addressing the critical need for research and actionable solutions in navigating today’s complex leadership landscape.

Leaders today confront an unprecedented level of complexity across various fronts. From rapidly changing market dynamics to emerging technologies, the spectrum of challenges is vast and multifaceted. The World Economic Forum’s recent report highlights a plethora of global risks, including climate action failure, biodiversity loss, and infectious diseases, underscoring the urgency for effective leadership in the face of complexity.

Scholarly research in complexity leadership has become increasingly important and although existing theories have laid the groundwork, research and practical application have been limited. Aiden’s appointment proposes new opportunity, promising to bridge the gap between theory and practice in leadership and complexity.

Aiden brings a wealth of expertise to this role, with an interdisciplinary PhD encompassing leadership, complexity, cognition, and adult development. Supported by leading scholars and the Menzies Foundation’s partnerships, Dr Thornton aims to contribute to leadership research by integrating theory with actionable practices. The focus on practical learning and real-world testing makes this effort stand out, ensuring tangible outcomes for leaders dealing with complexity.

“I look forward to focusing on laying the foundation for impactful research and practical solutions. My key priorities include advancing theories, creating measurements, publishing rigorous research, and testing complexity leadership practices. My long-term goal is to contribute to the establishment of a global centre of expertise dedicated to leadership and complexity”.

Dr Aiden M. A. Thornton

”In complexity, the anchor that ensures that leadership challenges are address is the identification of a shared purpose underpinned by the values and principles that enact that purpose. Often referred to as the ‘north star’, purpose provokes action, creates the imperative and provides the context to reconcile what matters most. It is the thing that shapes who and what we want to become”.

Liz Gillies, CEO Menzies Foundation


Menzies Leadership Forum

Recently, Liz Gillies, Menzies Foundation CEO and Dr Aiden M. A. Thornton explored his recent appointment, and the relationship between purpose and the capability required to lead in complexity; all with the understanding that these are essential elements if we are to drive positive change for the greater ‘good’.

Listen here