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This article reports on a study of Australian teaching and learning centres to identify factors that contribute to their effective strategic leadership. These centres remain in a state of flux, with seemingly endless reconfiguration. The drivers for such change appear to lie in decision makers' search for their centres to add more strategic value to organisational teaching, learning and the student experience. Through a synthesis of findings based on interviews, a survey of directors of centres and focus groups, the article identifies paradigmatic shifts in the ways centres see themselves, relate to their organisations and respond to external environmental forces. From an understanding of paradigm shifts, strategic contributions to academic development in the sector are framed organisationally through key points of leverage. Points of leverage are manageable actions that can be taken to maximise overall institutional impact and effectiveness.