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Leadership Insights Library

Spotlight Series for Senior Strategic Leaders (Series II)

Four impactful online workshops designed to support new, aspiring and established senior institutional leaders from all parts of the higher education community, including professional and academic areas.

Our Spotlight Series for Senior Strategic Leaders is designed to turn the spotlight on a range of topical development challenges for senior leaders in this ever-changing world. Each spotlight session will have its own clear focus, and those who wish to embark on a journey with us across the whole series can do so at a discounted price.

This second series has been put in place to focus on four core, topical challenge areas: positive engagement, inclusion, conflict and creativity. These half-day, impactful sessions will support senior leaders to reset, re-energise, and rejuvenate as the sector moves into the 'next normal'. 

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Starts: 6 May 2021
Book all four sessions at a discounted rate

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Who are the Spotlight Sessions for?

The Spotlight Sessions have been designed to support new, aspiring and established senior institutional leaders (both professional and academic). Institutional roles might include experienced and established heads of department, school, or academic subject centre, faculty deans, newly appointed deans or those aspiring to the role, and directors and experienced assistant directors of professional services.

"I found this was a very timely workshop which resonated clearly with the climate in which we are currently operating in HE”

Delivery and outcomes

These varied and engaging sessions will provide timely content for those leading their institutions through these challenging times, through a mixture of presentations and working in small groups. Participants will benefit from diverse opinions and networking, alongside practical and applicable tools and frameworks to take back into their role.

The Spotlight Sessions

A Spotlight on Positive Engagement

9:00am (BST), 6 May 2021
Doug Parkin
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A Spotlight on Inclusion

9:00am (BST), 25 May 2021
Doug Parkin
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A Spotlight on Conflict

9:00am (BST) 25 June 2021
Doug Parkin
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A Spotlight on Creativity

9:00am (BST), 8 July 2021
Doug Parkin
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Want to book on all four sessions?

While each Spotlight Session will have its own clear focus, there is also the opportunity to embark on a journey with us across the series overall. 

Those wishing to attend all four online workshops in the Spotlight Series can do so at a discounted price.

Book now
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A Spotlight on Positive Engagement: “The land of the possible is simply a happier place to be” 

9:00am (BST), 06 May 2021
Doug Parkin

Few people would want to be led by a pessimist, but the alternative is not someone who claims to have all of the answers. While that might sound positive, and in a highly disrupted environment it may even feel attractive to have someone rescue us, but over time that can actually erode confidence and hinders the development of collective commitment. In fact, for a leader, being brave enough to show vulnerability, some personal emotional strain, and admit you do not know the answers may be the most positive place to start.

However, it is important this is combined with a sense of energy, motivation and a real opportunity orientation in regard to the future. The mindset shift of positive leadership is towards optimism and the land of the possible. In Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain (2013) Elaine Fox explains that optimists “have a natural tendency to accept the world as is but believe that the way you deal with things determines who you are”. This crucial disposition is key for leading others today, because for all concerned “the land of the possible is simply a happier place to be” (Parkin, 2017).

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A Spotlight on Inclusion: The thoughtful and inclusive leader

9:00am (BST), 25 May 2021
Doug Parkin

“Where attention goes, energy flows” (James Redfield). Thoughtful leadership is always concerned with balance, with giving an even focus of attention and energy to both sides of things balancing:

  • freedom and control,
  • continuity with change,
  • push and pull,
  • leading with following,
  • yin and yang,
  • and task-focus with people-focus.
Senior leaders working

This ambidextrous (Michael Tushman, 2016) and thoughtful leadership is the essence of inclusivity. Maintaining a balanced view of the world, people and events, even when the world becomes highly uncertain, enables thoughtful leaders to have the poise to go on valuing others ahead of themselves. It is thoughtful and inclusive leadership, working with balanced energy, that will ultimately move the sector mindset from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’.

The multiplicity of backgrounds, personalities and characteristics that diversity seeks to celebrate and enable is rendered still more complex by the challenges of leading virtual and disconnected teams/organisations. Deliberate and intentional inclusion holds the key, ensuring that quiet, remote and marginalised voices also have the opportunity to speak with influence.

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A Spotlight on Conflict: Why can’t we all just get along?

9:00am (BST) 25 June 2021
Doug Parkin

In any family, community or organisation there are different needs and interests. These interests can sometimes appear opposed, and in times of high emotion or when trust appears precarious these differences can become magnified into damaging conflict. While this conflict may seem intractable, we are often pulling hard in opposite directions to achieve the same thing. Responding to conflict is not about creating artificial harmony. Whomever we are working with, from fellow managers to partners beyond our institution, creative conflict can be a positive catalyst for change and powerful decisions.

Communication that increases understanding and reduces barriers and boundaries holds a big part of the answer. When conflict is managed effectively, it can inspire new levels of understanding, empathy and trust between those involved, and promote growth. The strategic dimension to this, particularly during these disrupted times, is keeping your eye on the prize and focusing on shared core goals and values. as these are the things that unite us. 

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A Spotlight on Creativity: “People are naturally creative, resourceful and whole” **

9:00am (BST), 8 July 2021
Doug Parkin

The academic endeavour is at its core a creative one. Even very technical and rigorously precise research has a creative basis. From the most complex curriculum review challenge to the most wicked interdisciplinary research question, creativity unlocks human potential at every level. It ignites ideas, inspires and develops focus, commitment and energy. And leadership can and should complement this by being creative, thinking creatively and using creativity as the basis for communication and engagement. Creative leadership engages the hidden energies that bring life and meaning to work. This is the essence of modern enlightened leadership.

Alongside relationships, achievement, prestige and influence, creativity is probably the most satisfying aspect of belonging to an academically focused community, regardless of role. The power of learning, discovery and transforming lives, the three-fold essence of higher education, is all rooted in creativity. And the role of senior leadership should be to inspire this in every aspect of institutional life, not just those labelled enterprise and innovation. If you want to release potential, you need to release creativity.

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Facilitator

Doug Parkin 
Principal Adviser for Leadership and Management, Advance HE

With a focus mainly on leadership, Doug is responsible for a range of Advance HE's national open programmes as well as undertaking bespoke consultancy assignments for universities both in the UK and around the world. Key interests include educational and research leadership, the leadership of professional services, strategy development, leading change, and leading with emotional intelligence. An accomplished teacher, facilitator, coach, author and conference speaker, Doug has achievements across a wide range of leadership, educational and organisational development projects.

Find out more
Doug Parkin roundel

Excellent session very engaging and inspiring. Doug was brilliant as usual, cant wait to put some of the concepts into practice."

Sheryl Williams, Academic, Loughborough University

* Parkin, D. (2017). Leading Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The Key Guide to designing and delivering courses. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

** Kimsey-House, H., Kimsey-House, K., Sandahl, P. and Whitworth, L. (2011). Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives (3rd Edition). Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.