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Strategic Leadership Programme

Build the confidence and skills to lead, engage and influence across your team, institution, and the sector.

The Strategic Leadership Programme will appeal to those with a portfolio which reaches across the institution and who want to exercise their strategic vision to make a meaningful impact in shaping the future direction of the higher education sector through influence and engagement.

The programme is delivered as a blended offer involving both online and in person delivery. It takes a 'systems thinking' approach to considering strategic leadership and is comprised of a mix of theoretical inputs, provocations, speakers, practical exercises, observations, and discussions. 


The programme is aimed at those in senior roles with a cross-institutional reach. Delegates will work collaboratively over the seven-week programme to problem solve and identify practical solutions to a particular strategic challenge they are facing in their own institutions. 

In order to confirm your place, we require that you complete the application form which outlines your personal aims and objectives for applying for the programme, and what you hope to gain and how you intend on applying your learning. The Strategic Leadership Programme application selection process is to ensure suitability, particularly in relation to the strategic reach of applicant’s roles across their institution/beyond in order to maximise the programme’s practical relevance. Once the application form has been returned and accepted, we are then able to raise an invoice and process payment.

Bookings are now closed.

You can register your interest for the next cohort by requesting an information pack. To do this, click the button below and complete the form.


Register interest
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Share and celebrate your achievements with digitally recognised learning

For much of our portfolio for 2023-24 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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What participants say

A great programme which has supported me to reflect on my existing leadership skills and style, develop new approaches for the future, and build my overall confidence. The expert facilitation helped us to develop a wonderful cohort - generous, kind and supportive, and I'm confident that we'll stay in touch as an ongoing support network."

Catriona Bell, Professor of Learning and Teaching Enhancement, Director of Academic Development and Learning Enhancement, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

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Aims and outcomes

The programme comprises a blend of theoretical inputs, provocations, speakers, practical exercises, observations, and discussions. It will take a 'systems thinking' approach to considering strategic leadership.

One feature of this approach is that the SLP group itself becomes a 'learning organisation' to which all its members contribute. To that end, your preparation for, and active contribution to, the programme is an important part of its value. The Strategic Leadership Programme is designed to create opportunities to rehearse leadership approaches and is created around its participants: their willingness to engage, to share experiences, and to support each other.

The primary aims of the programme are to:

  • Build confidence in the power of leadership to change organisations
  • To disrupt complacency about the current operating model of Higher Education with a series of strategic “what if?” questions in order to create new models
  • To challenge concepts of heroic individualised leaders in favour of distributed systems leadership
  • To explore and develop approaches for leading in a complex environment.

At the end of the programme, we expect that you will:

  • Better understand the environment in which your leadership is being enacted
  • Have tested tools and approaches for influencing the systems and culture and of your organisation and the behaviour of others within it
  • Have strengthened your confidence to lead well in situations of uncertainty, complexity, and disruption
  • Have built a new network of fellow sector leaders who share a common language and understanding of the environment in which you are all working and who are able to provide generous mutual support.
"Genuinely transformative.” Paul Driscoll-Evans, Dean of School, University of Suffolk
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How is the programme delivered?

The programme is delivered in a blended format (comprising virtual and face-to-face elements) with six sessions over the course of two months and consists of an informal introductory networking session, two one-to-one coaching sessions (pre- and post- programme), four full-day modules (the second two delivered as a 2-day in person residential) and a one day, online action learning set.

Each of the four modules will include to following elements to help participants consolidate their learning:  

  • Approximately 2 hours of asynchronous pre- and post-session activities (for example, screencasts, articles, undertaking a self-guided group activity)
  • 4.5 hours of synchronous online activity (split across two sessions), or in person (split across morning and afternoon sessions), with refreshment/lunch breaks and 1.5 hours of asynchronous activity scheduled between these when online
  • Approximately 30 minutes of post-module reflective activity.

What participants say

Inspiring, enlightening and challenging in equal parts."

Professor Chris Proudman, Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey.

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Delivery team

Lisa Sofianos

Senior Associate and Coach
Advance HE
lisa sofianos
Lisa is a senior associate and coach at Advance HE, co-facilitating Advance HE’s Strategic Leadership Programme along with a number of other open and bespoke senior HE leadership programmes. She works internationally and across all sectors in the fields of organisational development, change leadership, strategic leadership and authentic leadership.

Alastair Work

Senior Associate and Coach
Advance HE
Alastair Work
Alastair has worked with Advance HE (previously via LFHE) since its inception, is an alumnus of its Top Management Programme (TMP), has significant experience of higher education leadership and management at all levels, and has a very strong reputation as an engaging facilitator.
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Headshot of Fiona Lennoxsmith

Creating sustained change through Advance HE's Strategic Leadership Programme

Fiona Lennoxsmith, Advance HE’s Lead Consultant for Leadership, Organisational Development and Research, reflects on our Strategic Leadership Programme for senior leaders in higher education.

Read more
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Introductory videos

In this video, co-facilitators Alastair Work and Lisa Sofianos describe the benefits derived from participating in Advance HE’s Strategic Leadership Programme.

In this video, Lisa Sofianos provides an overview of the Strategic Leadership Programme.

In this video, Alastair Work introduces the Strategic Leadership Programme, what takes place during the programme, and who it benefits.

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Module dates and information

For full details of each of the modules, download our full information sheet.

Introductory networking session (online)

Wednesday 17 April, 17.30 – 18.30
Networking Session designed to provide an opportunity to meet fellow participants and the facilitators in a relaxed and informal online setting and start to engage with the technology.

Pre-programme coaching session (online)

Tuesday 23 – Thursday 25 April
Participants will have the opportunity to work individually with a coach over two bookable 1.5 hour 121 sessions, one at the start of the programme and another upon completion.

Module 1 (online)

Monday 29 April 09.30 – 16.00
Engaging with complexity:
What are the trends and challenges coming towards the sector that we need to put back on our radar after Covid-19 has swept all before it? What can organisational psychology tell us about leading in these fast-paced and unstable times?

Module 2 (online)

Tuesday 30 April 09.30 – 16.00
Leadership responses:
How can we lead when we don’t yet have the answers? How do we manage the tensions that inevitably arise in complex systems?

Action Learning Set (online)

Wednesday 8 May 9.30 – 13.00
A half-day of facilitated group coaching to bring fresh perspectives and inspiration for solutions to your real and intractable leadership challenges.

Module 3 and 4 (in person 2 day/1 night residential)

Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 May
Leading complex institutions:
How can we lead higher education strategy better? What can organisational development thinking teach us about enacting change in complex systems? What fresh approaches can we design by re-imagining our institutions?

Post-programme coaching session (online)

Tuesday 4 – Thursday 6 June
The second bookable 1.5 hour, 121 session to be taken upon completion of the programme.

One-to-one coaching

Participants will have the opportunity to work with a coach over two sessions at either end of the programme. One-to-one coaching offers a confidential, non-judgemental, reflective space to consider leadership impact, embed learning, challenge unhelpful mindsets, and try new ideas on for size.

Our facilitators are qualified and experienced in coaching leaders in the higher education sector and will work with you first to design coaching objectives, and then help you work towards achieving them during your sessions. Whether you have benefitted from coaching before, or are new to the process, it is an important opportunity for focused reflection and learning entirely for you and your leadership development in a supportive environment.

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