In an environment of complexity, uncertainty and growing unrest, it takes bravery to lead. Bravery of the mind to penetrate the strategic background noise, to look to the horizon and to be decisive in the 'here and now'. Bravery of the heart to engage with people and create collective commitment around both comfortable and uncomfortable issues. And bravery of action as the structural tensions in the UK Higher Education system begin to break through and a radical new landscape emerges. There are powerful agendas at work within and around Higher Education. Looking at the external context, the disruptors include rapid environmental/climate change, demographic shifts, global population growth, food scarcity, societal reforms, economic turbulence, international shifts in power and regional alignments, and fourth wave technologies including AI and augmented/virtual reality. For universities the impact of these disruptors will increasingly call for a "courage culture" in which brave work, tough conversations and whole hearts become key hallmarks of leadership (Brown, 2018).
Daring to lead in this way can also lead to a ‘Fearless Organisation’ which can be summarised as: “when people speak up, ask questions, debate vigorously, and commit themselves to continuous learning and improvement, good things happen”. The notion of fearlessness here refers to envisioning a psychologically safe workplace which “is present when colleagues trust and respect each other and feel able – even obliged – to be candid” (Edmondson, 2019).
A combination of marketization, competition, student expectations, funding and other regulatory changes have created intense pressures within the HE system itself which look poised to challenge institutional configurations and even possibly in some cases sustainability. And the character of leadership itself and the relationship with 'followers', however they are construed, has also evolved significantly as the age of authority has given way to the age of trust and engagement. Whether quiet or loud, forceful or kind, close or remote, brave leadership will need to emerge to create a new kind of engagement in this ever more challenging 'here and now'. Brave leadership that creates fearless organisations will put the HE sector in the best position possible to face these challenges head on. We can no longer wait for change, we have to bravely create it!
The full programme is being finalised but will comprise of our keynote speaker, following by an interactive panel session and in the afternoon parallel sessions exploring different approaches to what might constitute brave leadership.
"The Leadership Summit 2018 was a great opportunity to listen to successful leaders who were intellectually stimulating, who challenged our assumptions and yet who were able to inspire pragmatic action through an honest account of their own leadership experiences."
- Leadership Summit Delegate
Date: 5 June 2019
Venue: thestudio, Birmingham, UK
Who: Senior Leaders
Our keynote speaker will be Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor at the University of Birmingham. David will be joined by a panel of senior university leaders who have all demonstrated brave leadership and will showcase how they have dared to lead. Our confirmed panel members are Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor, University of Northampton, Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor, University of Lincoln and Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of St Andrews.
Who Should Attend
Senior leaders in HE with responsibility for leading HE institutions within the executive team, leading strategy development and organisational change in the current policy climate.