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Leadership in Action is a nationally recognised training programme specifically designed to prepare early career researchers for leadership roles.

The programme provides you with the opportunity to practise leadership skills in an action-based and safe environment, supported by experience coaches.

The activities will help you to:

  • understand the impact of leadership styles on those being led
  • influence people towards a common goal/purpose
  • receive feedback on personal leadership styles and identify how these can be developed further
  • engage with researchers from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds & career stages.

Cambridge is joining seven other institutions (including hosts King's College London and University College London) to offer this highly practical and interactive virtual training and networking opportunity.


    Applications are now closed for the 2021 programme.

    If you have any questions about the application process or course, please contact


    Why should I apply?

    Funders and employers in the UK HE sector are increasingly looking to support researchers who can evidence leadership capability and good leadership practice.

    Leadership in Action is a well-established and nationally recognised leadership training programme for early career researchers.

    Participants will have the opportunity to work closely with postdocs from other institutions and disciplines, thereby enhancing interpersonal communication and networking skills in the context of leadership training.

    Each team of postdocs will be supported by an experienced coach to maximise learning potential on the course.

    What happens during the course?


    The course is based around seven activities, the first six of which are designed to explore a different aspect of leadership and provide a practical insight into how leadership works.

    Everyone has an opportunity to be the designated leader in one of the first six activities.

    In the seventh and final activity, you will be addressing a leadership activity that you can continue beyond the course. In this one you choose in your team how the leadership will work or let it happen organically.

    You will work with others in teams of six with a coach to help you make sense of the activity. These will change each time you switch between activities 1 to 6.


    Buddies and home groups

    Throughout the course you will work alongside your "buddy", who is another course participant. Together you will share your experiences and provide mutual support for each other’s leadership development.

    You will also have a “home group” where you consolidate your learning. The buddy pair, home group and home group coach are constant throughout the course.


    Resilient leadership

    Underlying everything is the Resilient Leaders Elements, a framework you can use to support your learning to which you’ll be introduced before the course begins.

    When is it happening?

    The current Leadership in Action course takes place across three weeks in October 2021.

    Sessions run from 09:30-12:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Full attendance at all sessions is mandatory (9 sessions in total).

    The next run of this virtual course is scheduled on Wednesday-Friday mornings between 14-28 February 2022. Six places will be available.

    The current iterations of this course have been adapted from a highly successful three-day face-to-face course. It covers the same number of hours as the face-to-face course but is offered as one course that runs across three weeks for three mornings each week.

    Institutions involved

    Francis Crick Institute
    Imperial College London
    King’s College London
    London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership
    Queen Mary University London
    University College London
    University of Cambridge
    University of Nottingham

    Participant feedback

    "The programme helps to build a leader inside you … you are exposed to becoming a better leader."

    "An intense three days* that will reshape your ideas about being a leader."

    "A great opportunity to try out leadership skills in a supportive environment."

    Application process

    How to apply

    Interested University of Cambridge postdocs should complete this application form no later than 5pm on Friday 3 September 2021.

    As part of the application, you will be required to confirm your commitment to attend the nine mandatory training sessions outlined above.

    We also ask that you notify your PI/group leader/line manager of your intention to attend this course and ask for confirmation of this in the application. 

    You will also need to provide a 150 word (max) statement indicating why you wish to attend the course and what benefits you expect to derive. This is a competetive application for a limited number of spaces.

    You will will not be able to save your work within the application form, so you may wish to compose your response in advance.


    Participant selection

    In the event that we receive more applications than places available, your answer to the statement noted above will be used to longlist applications as suitable for course participation.

    The final participants will be randomly selected from amongst these suitable candidates.

    We will keep a waiting list in case any participants are subsequently unable to partake in the course.