I was successful in securing a place on the Leadership Foundation’s Middle Managers Programme, an intensive training programme designed to introduce leadership theory, tools and techniques, and to explore the role of leaders.
An empowering realisation was that I was in control of my leadership position: it was not about “power”, or even ability to corral resource, but about supporting a team in working towards a common goal and being able, when necessary, to stoke the communal fires.
During our action learning set exercise we were given the opportunity to practise an “open questioning” technique whereby you explore a scenario with leading questions. This approach gives ownership of the scenario and solutions to the proposer, but also creates a sense of collaboration and support in identifying a course of action. This was the single most valuable approach I learnt, and it’s a technique that I now employ as often as I can in team meetings and staff reviews.
I have taken on a new position since attending the course, which has provided the perfect opportunity to build some of the tools and techniques into my “business as usual” right from the outset. I have entered into my new position quietly confident that I have the skills and support networks in place to become the leader that I would like to be.
Two inspiring leaders I have met recently are Professor Jackie Hunter, chief executive of the Biological and Biotechnological Sciences Research Council and founder of OI Pharma Partners, and Dr Margie Parton, life sciences consultant for UK Trade and Industry. Both are visionary, entrepreneurial and staggering in their achievements, and also warm and open with a natural curiosity about the people they meet.
Dr Kathleen Sedgley, Scientific Manager, BrisSynBio, Bristol Centre for Synthetic Biology
The Middle Managers Programme was my first experience of Leadership Foundation professional development; as an experienced manager for over 25 years I have attended many courses but none that have changed my thought processes as significantly as this one.
In the safe environment provided by this programme I was able to explore with other colleagues how what I do can influence my team, the benefit of working in action learning sets to solve problems and the value of reflecting on the approach I use for my decision making.
The experience of undergoing a 360 degree review has caused me to think carefully about the impact of my actions. Without going through this process I am certain that I would never have reached the point where my level of perception enables me consider the impact of my approach to decision-making on all stakeholders in such depth.
Another highlight was the captivating and thought provoking session delivered by Olivier Mythodrama that analysed the concepts of power and politics at work in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
The programme also provided an invaluable opportunity to build a network of contacts within the University of Bristol’s Professional Services Division; interestingly we all face similar challenges and knowing that there is a group of people within my own organisation that I would be happy to approach for advice fills me with confidence.
Jane Reynolds, Special Library Services Manager, University of Bristol
Kathleen and Jane attended a Middle Managers Programme, tailored specifically for the University of Bristol for their academic leaders/heads of department. Many of our programmes can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an institution.
Contact Sweta.PurohitJina@lfhe.ac.uk to discuss how we can help meet your requirements