This morning, Napier University launches a competition with the chance of winning a place on its MSC in Advanced Leadership Practice programme, starting in April. The course is aimed at people already in business who want to improve their leadership skills. The University has long insisted that leadership is something that can be taught rather than being an innate talent.
The programme is run under the banner of “The Edinburgh Institute” and, according to its director, Mike Fiszer, it “…leads in Practice-Based Learning and development – we support Business Leaders on the real issues they face at work. From the start of this programme they will learn about the practice of leadership and integrate this into workplace action.”
He points out that Scottish & Southern Energy has a policy of putting their best future leaders on this programme because “they see the difference in their leader capability, confidence and influence. The programme has helped participants lead change by adding to their management and technical skills the evidence-backed behaviours of a leader: authentic, positive, imaginative, adaptable, empathetic, communicating, emotionally intelligent. The programme builds on strengths not on weaknesses”.
The programme works by exposing students to a variety of issues, all of which focus on successful leadership and creative management. A mixture of residential classwork and remote working, it looks at leadership theory and then applies it through what are described as “action learning approaches” to obtain measureable improvements in performance.
One key to its success is that students are not expected to learn in isolation and are encouraged to share their experiences, both of life and work. This is done through a series of workshops and seminars. It concentrates on the real world rather than theoretical, academic examples, with an emphasis on the personal challenges actually faced by the participants in their working lives. Indeed, they’ll be expected to challenge their own behaviours and explore other perspectives.
Graduate Mark Rough, who’s Head of Commercial, Power Systems at S&SE, argues that “the importance of emotional intelligence, and in particular self-awareness and authenticity has provided me with an insight into leadership that is crucial in today’s challenging and dynamic business environments. Not only does this course provide vocational education it also allows participants to benefit from wider access to educational and business networks.”
That view is shared by Miriam Watts, Head of Clinical Services at Spire Hospitals in Edinburgh. She describes the experience as “one of most stimulating times of my life. The opportunity to access the quality of lecturers and the wide range of different teaching styles used throughout the course has meant that the past year has been a voyage of discovery.
“The course was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that I was in a group of like-minded people who I now class as friends for life. Prior to the course I would have labelled myself as a good manager, now I know I am a great leader with the potential to become excellent.”
The course promises to help graduates make more informed judgements. They should be able to deal creatively with complex, challenging and often ill-defined leadership problems. They should also end up with improved communication skills, being able to synthesise and present arguments effectively, both in writing and verbally.
The competition is quite straightforward. All people have to do is write 500 words about how they and their work experienced authentic leadership which made a difference. The winner will receive 18 months of coaching, workshops on communication, negotiation, influence, change and much more in a programme normally worth £11,000. All entries must be submitted by email to Jude McCorry Jude’s email with Leadership Competition in the subject line by midnight on 15 March 2011).
Originally posted on the Caledonian Mercury Website
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