Friday 25 January 2013

Unpacking Your Chair: Take Two!

It's been fairly busy this week, with an Influencing Skills Workshop, a Time Management seminar, coaching for clients from three different organisations, and the first day of the Unpacking Your Chair programme.

Unpacking Your Chair is the programme for relatively new professors at Newcastle University, which we launched a couple of years ago, and which has just won the award for excellence in Leadership Development in the Times Higher Awards ceremony.

So while we are confident that it is a good programme, there was a slight feeling that we had a lot to live up to, as we kicked off the second programme; not least because the success of the first was in large part due to the quality of participants who attended and what they brought to the programme.

We need not have worried. This year, the participants seem equally engaged and committed: we had a fascinating first day, with people sharing - with remarkable openness - their stories of their journeys  so far, and what is important to them going forwards.  We also had an stimulating conversation with a seasoned professor, Andy Gillespie, reflecting on a typology of professors drawn from his experience.

An hour of the afternoon was dedicated to considering what they would value from the rest of the programme: one of the features of the programme being that we co-create it each time with the participants, rather than assume in advance that we know what they need to learn.

They came up with some excellent themes to explore, and some good ideas of people they'd like to discuss them with.  All we have to do now is to invite people and hope that some of their diaries allow them to join us, and design sessions that will stimulate the kind of debate that last year's participants found so valuable.

It's always good to work with Liz Kemp and Gerry Docherty, who co-design and co-run the programme; in fact the only cloud on the horizon is that Gerry, the Academic Lead for the programme, whose ideas, style and commitment played a large part in both getting it off the ground and its subsequent success, has just accepted a new role in Brisbane.  He will be a hard act to follow, and we will all miss him.

Liz, (L) Gerry (seated R), and me with three of the cohort one participants (Adam, Kathryn and Mike) in a publicity shot for the THE Award.

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