Fulfilling the need for people who lead (1 of 3)

October 4, 2012

Jack Grove's feature "Breeding leaders" ( September) told a fascinating and entirely credible story of successful career journeys emanating from certain "hub" universities. The emphasis on the willingness of vice-chancellors in those institutions to offer leadership opportunities at an early stage and to push early career leaders out of their comfort zones - along with the creation of a network of leaders who stayed in touch as they rose to the top - resonates strongly with the work of the Leadership Foundation.

Near its end, the article asks: "So is there a recipe for developing future university leaders?" It immediately follows with the comment: "It is not as simple as that..."

It is indeed not enough to leave it to a few universities to develop tomorrow's top leaders, however commendable the outcomes. At the time of the prolific period at the University of Southampton, we were establishing the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and integrating into it the relatively new "Top Management Programme". We have built on the positive lessons that those interviewed in the article discussed, and now the majority of new vice-chancellor appointments are TMP alumni.

We are now about to run our 30th TMP programme. We have an alumni network of more than 600 senior leaders from TMP alone who network with and continue to learn from each other. We have underpinned this with a wide range of development opportunities in the UK and abroad for thousands of academic and professional leaders at a variety of levels.

Many of those mentioned in the article are alumni of TMP - among them Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, Dominic Shellard of De Montfort University, Paul Curran of City University London and Jon Baldwin, who is now based in Australia.

After nine years of the Leadership Foundation, we have the largest community of leadership learning in UK higher education. Not every institution can offer what those such as the University of Southampton and the University of Warwick have done but we can offer similar and additional development opportunities for tomorrow's leaders.

Ewart Wooldridge, Chief executive, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education

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