From education to employment

Exclusive with the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL)

For many junior managers, trying to navigate and plan a career path can be tricky and confusing. Do you want to stay within the curriculum area, for example, or progress into the service side of your organisation?

When planning your own development, it can be difficult to combine managing your day-to-day job activities with saving enough time to reflect on your own development needs and capabilities and to consider your aspirations. A proactive and supportive HR team and line manager can often be the vital link, and the Centre for Excellence in Leadership (CEL) is working with many HR directors and managers across the sector to facilitate and encourage the development of junior leaders.

CEL has two core programmes designed specifically for them.

Horizons is an exciting new programme which uses handheld PDAs and regional workshops to deliver essential development in core management skills to managers who have had little formal management training.

The programme uses a needs analysis tool to identify and design a personal development plan for each participant. Learning is by discovery and supported self-development, using a combination of 12 e-learning sessions and a two-day regional workshop. Core skills covered by this programme include, for example, time management, budget and resource management, change management and team leadership. In addition to the core skills, participants are supported with over 50 leadership skills learner guides, accessible via the PDA.

One of the benefits of this new programme is that it addresses a key priority of many junior managers ““ to spend little time away from work. It also enables participants to progress at their own pace. Programme leader Bob Ferdinand says: “Priced at £490, including a state-of-the-art handheld computer, Horizons is extremely cost-effective, so can be readily incorporated with HR budgets. We have already had early enquiries from organisations looking to adopt this for a whole tier of junior managers”.

First steps to leadership was initially launched over a year ago as part of CEL’s diversity and equality remit to support and develop junior managers from within the black and minority ethnic (BME) community.

Its success in transforming the capabilities and aspirations of junior managers is now evidenced and this autumn, to complement the BME cohort, CEL is introducing a mainstream cohort, open to any junior manager. Focused less on building core skills, First steps concentrates on building confidence and leadership capacity. The learning approach involves more face-to-face time as a group than Horizons, amounting to six days over five months. Participants also carry out a project within their own workplace, which offers a valuable organisational benefit. Evaluation of First steps has been very positive. Participant Hannah Miles, from City College, Birmingham says: “It’s been exhilarating and has given me a new outlook on my future. I now know I”m capable of doing more and have set my sights higher”.

CEL chief executive Lynne Sedgmore explains: “One of CEL’s roles is to work with the sector and to encourage provider organisations to support their junior managers, who are, after all, the principals, senior managers and heads of department of the future. We have listened to providers about the constraints and challenges they face in doing this and have reviewed the impact of our work so that we now have two excellent programmes designed to meet the needs of junior managers”.

She added: “The programmes are quite different in approach and content and could easily be integrated and discussed as part of individual performance reviews or as part of an organisation-wide initiative”.

Diana Watson, Centre for Excellence in Leadership.

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