For many years, I've been uneasy about the 'fragmentation' and resulting lack of coherence in the world of leadership development in the UK. There are so many disparate strands of activity, with Universities, Business Schools, Training Providers, Colleges, E-Learning Providers, Coaching Companies, Consultants and a range of Professional Bodies all offering their services to organisations and individual leaders. Even I'm confused, and I do this for a living.
In terms of approach, the market is no clearer:
We have the National Occupational Standards which describe the competencies required to be an effective manager - excellent and incredibly useful - but wrapped up in an NVQ framework that doesn't appeal to the majority of more senior leaders
We have Professional Qualifications - but with the Chartered Management Institute - the lead body for the profession - offering a professional route to qualification at anywhere between team leader (level 2) and PLC CEO (L8) - but competing with another body, the Institute of Leadership & Management, also offering qualifications at levels 2-7 - it would be no suprise if people were a little confused
Then we have the major Business Schools - Ashridge, Henley, Cranfield, Oxford SAID et al - all delivering serious and cutting-edge development programmes for senior leaders - but seldom linked in any way to the professional framework and typically carrying a price-tag that puts the programmes way out of reach of any but the wealthiest global and blue-chip organisations
A plethora of independent Training Providers deliver their own open and in-company programmes - often non-accredited, having evolved over time from their own work and therefore rarely linked to professional standards or qualifications - and therefore hard to benchmark and of commensurately variable quality
The many Colleges of Further Education usually deliver some professional qualifications in leadership and management - but typically at lower levels and mostly through part-time lecturers of very variable quality and levels of experience
...and so it goes on.
In recent years I have often vented this frustration with colleagues in other institutions and in each area of provision - and a group of us have decided to combine our expertise, put our money and reputations where our mouth is and do something about it.
The National Centre for Strategic Leadership at Silverstone is that something.
In discussion with Silverstone it became clear that they wanted to invest in developing the provision of education at the circuit and were prepared to support our strategy. By a long and complex route, the NCSL was born.
NCSL seeks to unify and integrate the many strands of leadership development to create a coherent set of programmes that utilise the cutting-edge thinking of our best business schools and integrate that with the professional qualification framework and national standards, supported by innovative behavioural assessment, 121 leadership coaching and the best e-learning and divergent thinking provision available - bringing these approaches together to deliver programmes aimed at senior leaders in the majority of organisations that simply cannot afford the £40,000 or more to place each senior leader on an executive MBA.
If this sounds interesting to you, visit the NCSL blog page and comment to express your interest - we need help, support and participation from the leadership community - academic, professional and especially practitioners in leadership roles- to engage in many areas of our work -to conduct research, pilot and trial approaches, undertake programmes and so on. Visit www.nationalcentreforleadership.blogspot.com to give an email address and the areas of interest and we'll be in touch. Thanks for your help.