Leading Growth

Leading Growth is a proven six-month leadership development programme designed specifically for business leaders in the North East.

Offering an innovative approach to learning, it combines a range of learning experiences including: an overnight residential, site visits, think tanks with expert facilitators and action learning sets.

This practical, unaccredited programme has been developed over several cohorts by Teesside University, in conjunction with local business leaders.

You will meet and learn with a range of different businesses from around the region. The opportunities for networking will allow you to enhance your leadership and management skills, improve your confidence, enable a more strategic approach to business, and improve your delegation and communication skills. What’s more, you will be able to access our extensive support networks.

All sessions are half days (with the exception of the residential) and run from January - July 2017, at a cost of £1,300 (plus VAT) per delegate. Programme fee includes overnight experiential accommodation and evening meal, plus daytime hospitality for all sessions.

The programme will be taught at Teesside University, Darlington

Programme enquiries

How you learn

The elements of the programme combine both formal learning and practical learning allowing for a high level of interaction between you and the Leading Growth team, but most importantly between you and your fellow cohort members. The peer-to-peer learning plus, the combined knowledge and experience of the Leading Growth cohort, is truly one of the programme’s strengths.

There is a strong emphasis on reflection and reflective learning. You will be encouraged to take away actions, to implement new ideas into your business and reflect on these, before sharing your experiences with your Leading Growth cohort. You will also be given a reflective journal and invited to record your thoughts, feelings and progress throughout the programme.


What you study

Your two day residential will give you a chance to meet your fellow delegates taking part on the programme. These two days will be filled with activities that will make you think as a leader and an individual but also as a team player. The Residential offers a mix of hands-on exercises which explore the role of leadership, and facilitated discussion that will help put this experiential learning into practice. We will introduce you to your Reflective Journal, a document that has been designed to support your learning throughout the programme and provides you with a wide range of tools to help you focus on your learning and identify how this can be applied to you and your leadership and management context. The Residential includes an overnight stay plus all refreshments and meals.

An interactive and informative Think Tank which requires delegates to complete an online questionnaire before the event. Everyone will receive their own personalised ‘Insights’ profile. The Think Tank will allow delegates to:

  • Reflect on their own personal "style" using the Insights Discovery profile;
  • Provide a common language that can be easily applied in the workplace,

Self-Awareness is critical to all leaders and this Think Tank will help you explore your own strengths and development areas.

The theory behind action learning is that we learn most when we are asking or being asked insightful questions. Having knowledge is important – but it’s not ‘learning’ in the sense that Reg Revans, the originator of action learning theory, meant. “Consultants provide solutions or send managers on courses where they are taught a lot but learn little,” he said. “Action learning is about teaching little and learning a lot.”

An action learning ‘Set’ or group is designed so that Set members learn through a process of constant questioning and reflection followed by action. Every member is accountable to the Set for the action they choose to take. Sets normally comprise 5 to 7 people who meet regularly and who design a series of ground rules for how they want to work in their Set (e.g. all the information discussed remains confidential).

Sets have been used to meet a wide variety of needs, for example, managers working on challenges related to their teams; directors of small charities looking at volunteer recruitment, fundraising and personnel issues; complementary health practitioners discussing practice development and clinical matters.

This interactive session will encourage conversation around engagement in strategy and invite you to consider some perspectives of strategy, both old and new.  As well as the application of strategy, we will introduce the academic evidence that supports the shift in thinking around strategy and use this evidence to consider some of the non-negotiables plus some key challenges.

In 1962 Decca were famed to have rejected a little known band called the Beatles on the rationale “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” As a strategic decision this was not their best but how could they have made a different decision and indeed, should they have?

This masterclass will explore the factors that contribute to strategic decision making, starting with an introduction to the debate around the meanings and use of strategy.  We will explore the shift in thinking around strategy and you will use this evidence to consider some of the non-negotiables and some key challenges facing leaders in identifying their next “fab four”!

Our first site visit will be a tour of Vale of Mowbray. Vale of Mowbray take their name from the area in which they are located; a valley of outstanding natural beauty set between the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. There has been food and drink baked or brewed at their site in Leeming Bar in the Vale of Mowbray for over 200 years. Unfortunately the brewing ceased in 1928 but the pie baking started and has been perfected over the last 86 years and grown into a strong brand with lots of local heritage. There has been food and drink baked or brewed at their site for over 200 years.

For the first 33 years the business was privately owned by the Riders, a prominent North Yorkshire family.

Harris Bacon Co Ltd bought the business in 1961. Harris was a hugely successful Pork processor, but their fortunes took a turn for the worst in the early 80’s and the business was sold to Hillsdown Holdings in 1982. Hillsdown ran the business successfully for the next 13 years, at which time there was an M.B.O. led by Mr D Graham and Mr J Gatenby (the current owner) in 1995.

But disaster struck in 2002 with a fire destroying one of the bakeries as well as their head office. A quick internal restructure of facilities and within 2 weeks pork pies were once again being produced.

In 2005 John Gatenby became the sole owner, his son Mark joined him in the business taking the company back to its family roots. Significant investment in both people and facilities have continued to grow the business, and in 2014 they were the fastest growing Pork Pie brand in the market (Kantar © - data to end of Feb 2014).

Vale of Mowbray currently employ more than 250 people from the surrounding community. In order to fulfil current demand and build for future growth, they are about to complete a major extension to their primary bakery.

The theory behind action learning is that we learn most when we are asking or being asked insightful questions. Having knowledge is important – but it’s not ‘learning’ in the sense that Reg Revans, the originator of action learning theory, meant. “Consultants provide solutions or send managers on courses where they are taught a lot but learn little,” he said. “Action learning is about teaching little and learning a lot.”

An action learning ‘Set’ or group is designed so that Set members learn through a process of constant questioning and reflection followed by action. Every member is accountable to the Set for the action they choose to take. Sets normally comprise 5 to 7 people who meet regularly and who design a series of ground rules for how they want to work in their Set (e.g. all the information discussed remains confidential).

Sets have been used to meet a wide variety of needs, for example, managers working on challenges related to their teams; directors of small charities looking at volunteer recruitment, fundraising and personnel issues; complementary health practitioners discussing practice development and clinical matters.

This practical half day think tank will introduce the concept of business innovation and how this can be used to develop new or modified products, services and markets. The think tank will define the term innovation and distinguish from closely related concepts like creativity. The think tank will also examine the barriers to innovation and look at some of the different approaches to generating, assessing and commercialising new business ideas in a cost effective way so as to improve profitability and growth. After the think tank, delegates will be able to define innovation, understand the importance of innovation, trial simple new business idea generation techniques, understand techniques for assessing ideas, appreciate the importance of psychology in business innovation, define the concept of commercial pathways and appreciate the importance of marketing and market research in innovation.

The theory behind action learning is that we learn most when we are asking or being asked insightful questions. Having knowledge is important – but it’s not ‘learning’ in the sense that Reg Revans, the originator of action learning theory, meant. “Consultants provide solutions or send managers on courses where they are taught a lot but learn little,” he said. “Action learning is about teaching little and learning a lot.”

An action learning ‘Set’ or group is designed so that Set members learn through a process of constant questioning and reflection followed by action. Every member is accountable to the Set for the action they choose to take. Sets normally comprise 5 to 7 people who meet regularly and who design a series of ground rules for how they want to work in their Set (e.g. all the information discussed remains confidential).

Sets have been used to meet a wide variety of needs, for example, managers working on challenges related to their teams; directors of small charities looking at volunteer recruitment, fundraising and personnel issues; complementary health practitioners discussing practice development and clinical matters. 

Our second site visit will be a tour of PD Ports. Based in Middlesbrough, PD Ports operate Teesport, a major deep-water complex and one of the largest container ports in the North of England. To complement their operations, PD Logistics is their leading logistics business, delivering flexible portcentric solutions to improve your supply chain. With a developed warehousing footprint, supported through Teesport, of over 3 million square feet, with multiple clients, they are the leading edge portcentric logistics provider in the UK.

They also offer customer solutions at a number of other key locations such as Felixstowe and the Humber Estuary, bringing portability to our ports ability, with a further 2 million square feet of warehousing available.

They have over 160 years of unrivalled experience; and with their sustained investment in ground breaking technology and operations they offer a one-stop future proof link for all your multimodal supply chain needs. 

In a media saturated world, characterised by a cognitive overload of information its worth asking how companies can successfully communicate their values and propositions to customer and stakeholders.  The management of a brand; online and offline, in digitals and atoms, socially and experientially is increasingly becoming a major part of an entrepreneurs responsibilities. This workshop will look at marketing and branding from a number of different perspectives’, allowing participants to reflect on their own company’s strategy and how they can successfully develop this in the future.

Following the event there will be a chance for you to speak to our Business Development Mangers who may be able to signpost you to support or advise you about any issues in your business.

The theory behind action learning is that we learn most when we are asking or being asked insightful questions. Having knowledge is important – but it’s not ‘learning’ in the sense that Reg Revans, the originator of action learning theory, meant.

‘Consultants provide solutions or send managers on courses where they are taught a lot but learn little,’ he said. ‘Action learning is about teaching little and learning a lot.’ An action learning set is designed so that members learn through a process of constant questioning and reflection followed by action. Every member is accountable to the set for the action they choose to take. Sets normally comprise five - seven people who meet regularly and who design a series of ground rules for how they want to work in their set, for example all the information discussed remains confidential.

Sets have been used to meet a wide variety of needs, for example, managers working on challenges related to their teams; directors of small charities looking at volunteer recruitment, fundraising and personnel issues; complementary health practitioners discussing practice development and clinical matters.

Engaged employees are not just committed. Engaged Employees are “enthused” using their talents and discretionary effort to make a difference in the quest for sustainable business results. Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my job and do it well”) with maximum job contribution (“I help achieve the goals of my organisation”). David’s session will introduce the criticality of employee engagement for any business, in particular the idea of discretionary effort as well as the growing threat of presenteeism. He will then summarise generational difference theory and highlight the generational triggers to build and sustain employee engagement within your business. This Session will help you understand the components of employee engagement and also to analyse the current state of employee engagement within your business. You will have an enhanced understanding of how to manage generational difference to improve and sustain employee engagement and you will recognise the prevalent behaviours associated with the different generations within your business.

For the learning on Leading Growth to have maximum impact, it is essential that participants have dedicated time set aside to reflect and consolidate your learning. The final event is a great opportunity to share what you will take away from the programme and allows you to explore your learning journey with fellow delegates. We will showcase your successes and achievements taken from your experience on the programme. Sharing stories and experiences in this session will also help you to have a clear understanding of how the programme impacted the whole cohort.

Comments from former participants

'The programme has helped pull the team together and given us a more strategic understanding of our strengths and weaknesses.'

Russell Holmes, operations director, John Boyd Associates

'Most SMEs haven't got the time or resources to seek out all the elements this course brings together. Rather than purely academic content, they need a much more practical approach to learning, which university-based courses are not always well focussed on delivering. Leading Growth achieved all this and more.

The activities and exercises forced me to stop and challenge my current ways of working. This has had a big impact personally, allowing me to step back and look at the bigger picture, finding the key areas on which to focus and dealing with them decisively. We are now engaging more with the whole team and are much more vocal about the needs of the business.

From a business perspective, we have seen increases in productivity and quality performance as a result of cultural and process improvements. This has allowed us to premiumise our offer, driving us into new market sectors. Giving my time and energy to the programme has proved invaluable. I don't believe there is a single owner of an SME who would not benefit.'

Mike Baum, Sales Director, Harrison Packaging

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