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Leading Departments

Leading Departments is a development programme designed to engage, support and develop new Heads of Department to meet the operational challenges of leading and managing academic or support teams.

Being a head of department is a significant step on the leadership career ladder but it does come with the additional day to day challenges associated with the leadership of front line academic and professional departments.

Leaders of departments in HE institutions are often challenged by the need to achieve action by influencing those in senior positions in their institution. They must find ways to overcome resistance and encourage commitment in a positive way. Leading Departments will engage, support and develop new and experienced heads of department or schools to meet the operational challenges of leading and managing academic or support teams. 

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Next cohort

Closing date: 6 March 2023

Module One: Tues 14 – Weds 15 March 2023
Module Two: Thurs 18 – Fri 19 May 2023

Delivered: Face to face
​​​In person residential experience delivered over Two, two-day / one night modules.

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Share and celebrate your achievements with digitally recognised learning

For much of our portfolio for 2022-23 the learning of event attendees and programme participants and conference, symposia and colloquia presenters will be digitally recognised.

This makes it easy for you to share and celebrate your achievements by adding them to your email signature or including them in your social profiles including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Your learning certificates can also be easily verified and downloaded as a pdf.

Find out more about digitally recognised learning

Programme delivery

This innovative programme takes a practical hands-on approach to learning new skills and behaviours necessary for successful department or school leadership. The core feature of the programme is a continuous and progressing simulation, which allows participants to experience the realities of leadership as a head of department or school in a risk-free environment.

The synchronous modules will take place over two full days, with more frequent breaks built in to maximize engagement and will include live facilitated discussions that speak to our new realities and changing circumstances, such as the challenge of engaging in virtual leadership conversations. 

Delegates will also benefit from additional pre-module resources in the form of two substantial content driven vodcasts to watch asynchronously as part of their preparation for the module.

Taking place over four months, Leading Departments consists of:

  • a two-day module focused on people and power, including addressing challenging issues such as performance, conflict resolution and self-positioning as a leader as well as a colleague
  • 360-degree diagnostic to identify personal strengths and development goals
  • a two-day module on ‘Managing up’, influencing outside the line management relationship and succession planning
  • asynchronous activity in the form of a private programme network group set up to support the sharing of resources.
  • two vodcasts, one before each module, to prime and prepare you with key ideas, core leadership and communication models and some reflective questions. 
This programme is unlike any other I have experienced. The opportunity to learn a technique, practice it in a very realistic scenario, receive instant feedback, and refine until you are confident with it is like gold-dust.” Jennifer Stergiou, Head of  Research Operations and Reporting, University of Leeds.

Watch the video

Watch an introduction to the programme's key features with joint Programme Directors Doug Parkin and Paul Hessey

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Programme outcomes

Participants benefit from the opportunity to explore the use and balance of intellectual, emotional and political intelligences in facing day-to-day challenges. They also have the chance to identify their own leadership styles and preferences, and consider the implications of these for the leadership of performance. Participants will also benefit from the ability to reflect on their 360-degree feedback and apply the insights gained to focus their own plans for personal development.

The simulated environments approach used on the programme is incredibly powerful and impactful. These environments challenge participants to confront complex, highly interwoven performance management and operational issues and explore motivation as a way of achieving their own and others’ high performance.


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