Senior leadership can come in many different forms and with many styles, contexts and challenges. Many of those who think they can't pursue a senior leadership role due to external factors may not be aware that the role can be developed to suit them. Advance HE’s Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme (SWLDP) can help address these and a variety of other perceptions about the world of senior leadership and how people can rise into these positions.
We spoke to Paula Griffiths, a Professor of Population Health at Loughborough University, and recently appointed Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in a job share role with another colleague. Paula completed the SWLDP as part of the 2021/22 cohort.
One of the more positively surprising elements of the course for Paula was how much she appreciated the financing aspect of leadership. She said, “I think until now I'd probably put finance to the side of my leadership thinking, but the training has really helped me to better understand finance systems in universities and obviously why they're so important to the running of universities. It's made me think now when I'm going in with an idea or bigger idea for strategy development to really bring in the finance part of that too, in my thinking at the early stages, and I feel better equipped to do that now.”
A key part of the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme for Paula was discovering that job share was available at higher leadership positions. She said, “I think the number one benefit for me personally was learning about job share. One of the people who was brought in as a case study that we had the opportunity to question during the course very kindly agreed to follow up with me after the course and hold a session with me about what she'd learnt about job share in her institution in a very senior leadership position ... I'd always thought that it wasn't possible to job share at a more senior level, it would become too complicated and wouldn't be possible, and with my part time working, that's quite important … hearing the example of a pro Vice-Chancellor of Research at another university job sharing, that made me realise that this might actually be possible.” This newfound confidence would later help Paula apply for and get the position of Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in her school in a job share role.
Paula’s key advice for anyone taking the course is, “Do the tasks that are set between the different sessions ...they don't take up an awful lot of time, but they do require an hour or two of your time in between each session to go through the tasks and think about them. Because if you don't come to the session having done the pre-reading tasks, you don't get as much from the sessions and if others in your cohort don't do the pre-tasks as well, then it makes for a less interesting discussion.”
Watch the whole video below.