Our work helps promising leaders prepare for positions of greater responsibility. We provide an environment within which senior leaders can come to a better understanding of the demands on them and the responses expected of the institutions they lead and manage. Working in Odell House under the aegis of the Chatham House Rule, participants in our professional development programs listen, probe, debate and reflect on the challenges of public service in the 21st century.
Our approach emerges from our thinking that there is no one model of leadership or method of management that is inherently superior to another. There are many sources of insight and strength and we feel that preparation for greater responsibility must necessarily include developing abilities across a broad front.
Our approach comes from an idea that over the arc of a career a leader acquires varied experience, develops knowledge and skills, and deepens their belief in public service. Over time, this repertoire comes to define their identity as a leader. It shapes their character and becomes their style, and it defines how they lead and manage. We call this a leadership practice. We think it is a personal professional asset that is unique to an individual leader. The choice to invest in and expand one’s practice is one that we hope every leader will make. The Centre is in the business of providing both structured and informal opportunities for participants to grow their practice so that it can support them in positions of greater responsibility.
Our Leadership Practice Framework has four dimensions: experience, competence, ethos, and energy. Each of these has a number of different elements and the complete framework consists of 16 different ways to describe someone’s unique approach to leadership. The framework is flexible and dynamic and one of the early tasks for participants is to validate or adjust it. When a good fit has been established, participants are asked to use the framework to assess their progress at three points during the program: at the start, in the middle and at the end. Sponsors may validate the self-assessments and program staff provide detailed written and verbal feedback. In this way, we can see where development is happening, provide some assurance that the program is achieving a desired result, and that leadership capacity is being enhanced.