The shortage of senior women at the most senior levels in institutions is still a challenge, despite some improvements at executive and board levels in recent years.
Advance HE’s Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme (formerly Leadership Matters) is one of our women-only programmes designed specifically for women in senior positions in HE to help them take the next step up or extend their role, profile and impact. It aims to create more gender parity in senior leadership within higher education.
Developing female senior leaders
In the programme we create a safe space for senior women leaders to explore the complexity of navigating through conventional organisational structures and to build foundations for transformation and paradigm shift.
The programme strikes a balance between enhancing technical knowledge of key strategic areas of operation including institutional finance, structures and governance along with exploring individual leadership styles, leadership legacy, personal impact and developing political skills.
I found the programme invaluable, with space to explore the challenges of women’s leadership in HE as well as to examine critical issues such as university governance and finance. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to be amongst other senior female leaders in HE.”
Dr Emily McIntosh, Director of Student Life, Student Experience Team, University of Bolton
Who is Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme for?
This programme is designed for women in senior academic and professional services roles such as professors, heads of department, deputy directors and directors, who are not yet at executive level but may aspire to be executive team members or be working closely already with their senior executive team.
How is the programme delivered
Taking place over the course of 4 months, the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme consists of two, two-day face-to-face modules and an action learning set.
The first two-day module focusses on building the strong foundations for the group to work together. We explore and enhance knowledge on a number of key institutional pillars including, organisational and decision making frameworks, funding and finance inputs, governance processes and structures and develop practical strategies for working within and outside of these.
Participants have an opportunity to reflect on their learning and put it into practice as they step into the board room through a process of ‘real play’. During the module they also have an opportunity to review their departmental budgets and finance and enhance their financial fluency.
Half way through the programme the participants meet in smaller groups for their action learning sets. They are encouraged to discuss practical issues pertinent to their leadership roles and work on solutions using the collective intelligence of the group through non-directive, coaching approaches.
The second module consists of a further two days focussed on exploring organisational climate, culture and internal politics and equip participants in practical skills to be able to navigate those and shape them in a new way. During the second day of the module the participants are exploring personal leadership styles and their unique leadership purpose and legacy with the ultimate aim of building confidence and ability to influence key stakeholders in their organisations and beyond.
Throughout the programme senior women leaders from within the sector are joining the cohort to share their expert knowledge and experience of reaching the top leadership levels within their organisations.
What are the programme outcomes?
As a result of the programme the participants:
- gain personal empowerment and greater sense of presence to be able to engage in organisational dialogue in a dynamic way
- build understanding of their unique leadership style, personal impact and legacy and how those can contribute to change and transformation
- develop organisational fluency and skills around finance, governance, culture and politics and the ability to influence key stakeholders
- understand the financial structures for higher education institutions and how they relate to their institutional purpose
- take a look at their own University’s Annual Report and Accounts or equivalent publicly available financial data
- deepen their understanding of the macro and micro politics of higher education institutions and how to navigate these effectively as a senior woman leader
- create a momentum in their career progression through renewed commitment and supportive network of senior women