The Future Directors Programme, which is part of the ‘Leadership for Change’ suite of programmes, is an ongoing collaboration between the Staff College, formally known as the Virtual Staff College (VSC) and Public Health England. The programme has evolved from other senior leadership programmes offered to aspiring directors across the public sector and provides an opportunity for senior officers, who specifically aspire to director level roles in children’s services and public health, to jointly prepare for the next phase of their careers and learn from each other.
The Future Directors Programme is a leadership development programme for senior leaders who are ambitious both for themselves and for the people that they serve. The programme has been constructed around two, three day residential seminars, which will introduce participants to a way of thinking about leadership which acknowledges that, when dealing with the most significant decisions, there is no manual to hand with a straightforward set of instructions about what to do next. By the end of the programme, participants will be better able to exert influence, and gain consent for pragmatic solutions based on a shared commitment to a strong sense of public value.
The implication of this is that the step up to a director level role requires a willingness to embrace and handle volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which are now the characteristics of senior leadership challenges in the public sector. This programme is about finding ways of working successfully in a difficult and unpredictable space, where you may be alone, but you can’t operate in isolation, where you may have to take risks, but your first concern has to be for the welfare of others.
The objectives of the programme are:
To introduce participants to a number of ‘core concepts’ about leadership in the public sector, including ‘adaptive’ leadership, public value, and systems thinking,
To help participants to explore their own potential for leadership at the most senior level and develop the resilience needed to cope with the demands that it will make on them,
To prepare for the challenge of operating at director level, as a leader, as a member of an executive team, and as a key player in the wider system,
To provide a safe learning environment for participants to review their practice and work in depth with others on a personal ‘leadership challenge’.
Participants are selected on the basis of a written application and supporting statement from their sponsor. Successful applicants are offered a variety of learning methods including residential activity, small group work, peer support and challenge, as well as the opportunity to be part of a learning community. This enables participants to develop a highly personalised learning experience that reflects their professional and personal circumstances, as well as meeting their individual learning and development needs. The programme as a whole combines a taught element delivered through a residential programme with individual work on a personal learning plan and a leadership challenge supported by a Learning Co-ordinator.
Programme duration is 8 months, which allows flexibility for individual participants. Participants are expected to commit to attending each of the face-to-face elements of the programme for the duration in order to successfully complete the programme. The programme features:
A competitive assessment process
A one day Development Centre, to be held in Nottingham