Leadership at the heart of the new Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership

Dr Steve Gibbs, Senior Lecturer in Leadership at the University of Cumbria discusses how a focus on leadership will help drive regional success through the University's new Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership.

Leadership at the heart of the new Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership

The challenge of transforming Cumbria and the North West into one of the UK’s most productive places is a shared ambition. It means understanding the aspirations of our communities; as well as continuing to create a place where the region’s leaders are celebrated and nurtured. This vision for partnership is core to the University’s new Institute of Business, Industry, and Leadership. Formed over the summer we are placing leadership learning at the heart of what we do. A leaderful region will increase productivity, improve work-life balance; create more money for schools, research, development, and future investment.

This journey is set against a backdrop of a changing economic landscape. As one writer said, referring to our current world: ‘Change has changed, it no longer travels in a straight line’. Our shared response is to foster leaders who feel equipped to embrace this future confidently and thoughtfully. Whether it is a CEO facing an organisational restructure or community members taking their first steps in leading we are here to work in partnership.

To achieve this the Institute is adopting a multi-layered approach to leadership learning. It has embedded leadership across its programmes. Whether people are working in the nuclear supply chain, health service, tourism, project management, service sector, policing, micro-businesses, the arts, or advanced engineering, learning to lead well is a key component in embracing the sort of change the region faces in the coming years. 

Many leaders speak of wanting to lead but their day is consumed with firefighting, with the urgent over-taking the important. To bring new capacity our innovative approaches will meet the leadership development needs of individuals, businesses, institutions, and communities.  From coaching, and self-development to strategic thinking we see leadership learning from many angles, and underpinned by academic rigour and practitioner experience.

An important part of leading well will be growing our capacity to hold conversations across boundaries. As globalisation re-shapes society and markets, we are committed to creating new possibilities through relationship building; crossing difficult spaces to initiate conversations on how we together face the future. Learning to collaborate is crucial, whether this is between specialist functions inside an organisation, or across industry/sector boundaries.

Stubbornly the UK remains 12-20% less productive than its G7 partners. This picture remains complex. Low UK wage rates among other factors remain part of the challenge. Delivering change over time to close this gap is where innovative leadership learning is bringing fresh insight. Practitioners and academics sharing knowledge are crucial. Advancing our understanding of leadership with both contemporary theory and practice underpins our approach.

In practical terms, we are committed to the development of the region’s senior leaders through our masters programmes. As an example, the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship develops a new generation of strategic leadership thinking that equips leaders to face the future with confidence.

Find out more about the new Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership

Dr Stephen Gibbs PhD MBA PGCert(Mgt) PCPD MCMI FHEA

Senior Lecturer in Leadership

Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership

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