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Leading Departments

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

Leaders of professional services and academic departments / schools face the unique challenge of balancing significant leadership responsibilities with the day-to-day considerations of leading ‘front-line’ academics and professional service staff. These can include commercial viability, conflicting priorities and managing their own, and their team’s well-being.

Successfully navigating this balance relies on skilfully working in partnership with others; whether to achieve action through influencing those in senior positions, or whether to supporting teams with practical challenges.

Leading Departments is a highly experiential programme, providing the opportunity to directly apply theory to practice and receive immediate feedback through the use of simulations contextualised to higher education.

Register your interest and find further information on this programme

We will be launching the new portfolio dates for 2024/25 soon.

Register here
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Hear from Leading Department participants

In this short video, previous Leading Department participants and the delivery team talk about their experiences of the programme.

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Why choose Leading Departments?

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 are able to put what they have learnt into practice, back in their institutions immediately too, because simulation is so relevant to their day to day working lives.
  • Peer networks and the opportunity to develop strong and effective relationships through the programme cited as invaluable and of lasting benefit in terms of ongoing support and dialogue beyond the programme.
  • 360 Diagnostic completed online between the first and second modules supports participants ongoing development and learning through the two modules.
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.

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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About the programme

This innovative residential programme takes a highly experiential approach to exploring and practising new skills and behaviours necessary for successful department or school leadership. The programme:

  • Is a highly experiential programme design delivered via an ongoing business simulation customised to the higher education context – where you get to put into practice leadership theory, tools and techniques in a safe space, and receive feedback and coaching from colleagues and programme delivery team.
  • Explores themes such as commercial viability, partnership building and balancing priorities, alongside the day to day realities of leading a department or school.
  • Features team working, enabling programme participants to  stretch and refine their leadership capabilities across a range of situations, receiving immediate feedback, coaching and valuable opportunities to rewind and try again as they progress.
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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
digitally recognised learning
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Rachel Witton

Senior Consultant (Leadership, OD and Research)
Advance HE
Rachel Witton
Rachel Witton is a Senior Consultant (Leadership, OD and Research) at Advance HE, and joined Advance HE in 2020. Rachel has worked in a consultancy capacity with senior leaders in higher education globally for the last 12 years, supporting them navigate and implement multiple aspects of change.

Paul Hessey

Picture of Paul Hessey
Paul has worked for many years as a trainer, facilitator and role plater across a wide range of sectors including Financial Services, Retail, Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, the NHS and Higher Education. He specialises in Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills and delivers consultancy and training in areas such as interview and recruitment skills, unconscious bias, appraisals, feedback, coaching, conflict resolution, sales and negotiation.
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