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The Manchester Leadership Development Programme takes place over six months and consists of 3x3 day residential blocks, featuring a range of focused, intense and participative activities looking at leadership, strategy and commercial excellence.

Why were you interested in the programme?
I chose to do the Manchester Leadership Development course because I found myself in a position of being an accidental CEO. I was a GP for 20 years and found myself owning a business and running a business, which is a place I never expected to be, and felt a little bit misplaced if I’m honest (…) that I didn’t quite have the business skills to do the job that I needed to do. I felt that coming on a course was going to give me some of that knowledge and tools that would help me to do that. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I was hoping the course was going to give me those questions, which it absolutely did, but what I didn’t realise was that actually what the course was going to do was (…) help me to understand a lot more about me and my position and see situations in a different way and much more wholely. So whilst I got the tools around strategic thinking and commercial acumen and leadership to take back into the business, I think the thing that I learnt the most was that it was okay to me.

What was your experience on the course?
The actual structure of the course, and what the experience of the course was, was, if I’m honest, quite intense so I wouldn’t recommend it to somebody that wanted to do it in their spare time and just come on the course to get some sheets of paper to go home and read (…) you really have to immerse yourself in it and take part in it and bring yourself to it to get the most learning out of it (…). There’s a lot of information within a very short space of time, there’s a lot of learning and a lot of reading and contact that you can make with people but it’s only through applying to very real situations, which was what our Applied Learning Challenge was, that I learnt.

What did you enjoy the most?
The support that I got from the group was unexpected and invaluable. I didn’t know anybody on the course before I came and I met people from different sectors that I was not familiar with and it created a really safe space to think and to be challenged. I got a lot of objective truths in a very kind way that I wasn’t expecting and actually as a group we’ve continued to be in contact since the group finished (…) peer support as a leader is invaluable because leadership is a lonely place and I think sometimes you’re expected to have all the answers but what I learnt from the course was that actually all you need are the right questions.

Have you managed to put into practice what you learnt?
What I’ve taken from the course and actually how it’s had an impact on my daily life is that I’ve been able to take some strategic thinking to board to start to begin some of those conversations in a way that we weren’t doing before. I’ve, in a very practical sense, used the types of change that we learnt about and started to bring some of the commercial acumen tools into daily practice. I think the biggest thing has been being able to step back and see the situation as a whole, and to give myself time to think and be in a different space to be able to make decisions, rather than to keep doing.