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Future-Focused Leadership Programme - Frequently Asked Questions


Published: 25 July 2022

Version: 1.1 - July 2022

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What is the Future-Focused Leadership Programme?

The Future-Focused Leadership Programme (FFLP) has been developed specifically for the NIHR following an in-depth analysis to understand what makes a successful leader within NIHR and offers delegates the opportunity to explore new thinking on how to lead in the 21st century.

This is an immersive programme and facilitates the development of network building amongst delegates and the application of learning to real-time leadership activity, which is based on the NIHR Leadership Framework.

Who can apply?

The FFLP is available to two different audiences: Emerging Research Leaders (ERL) and Leaders. Applicants apply to be considered to participate in the programme and applications are reviewed by a selection committee.

How do I know which stream I am eligible for?

To be eligible for the ERLs stream you must be:

  • an NIHR Academy Member
  • an early to mid-career researcher
  • at least two years post-doctoral

To be eligible for the Leaders stream you must:

  • currently lead at a national level for NIHR, have demonstrable leadership influence as part of NIHR or hold an NIHR Research Professorship award. For example, you might be a Chair or Co-Chair of a governance board, or leading an NIHR strategic work stream which involves different parts of NIHR/its partners
  • be able to show how your leadership contribution relates to the strategic aims of NIHR
  • able to identify leadership challenges from your NIHR role that you can work on as part of the programme

Am I an NIHR Academy Member?

We would consider you a NIHR Academy Member if you are:

1. In receipt of funding from NIHR Academy, i.e. one of our fellowships.


2. Based in NIHR Infrastructure or an NIHR School and meet all of the following criteria:

  • be undertaking a formal training/career development award, which should meet all of the following criteria: be competitive, include a training/ development plan and have a defined end point (such as an application for further funding)
  • receive at least 25% funding from the NIHR for salary/stipend over the lifetime of the individual’s award
  • be hosted in a setting with a remit for research capacity development

For Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs), Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) and Global Health Research (GHR) Programmes, funding can be from NIHR or from an official collaborating partner.

For GHR Programmes, an official collaborating institution (‘Partner’ or ‘Collaborator’) is an organisation which holds a current collaboration agreement with the holder of the NIHR research contract to participate in global health research work, and which may or may not be in receipt of NIHR funds.

My NIHR Academy award is coming to an end. Am I still eligible to apply for the ERLs stream?

Your current post-doctoral funding or NIHR personal award must be active for the majority of the duration of the leadership programme to enable you to be eligible for the programme. This means you should be in receipt of an award ending no earlier than 30 September 2023.

How long is the programme?

The programme lasts for 12 months.

How much does it cost?

The programme is free for eligible participants, however any travel costs are the participants responsibility.

How do I book travel for FFLP activities?

Travel costs and arrangements are an individual’s responsibility and are not paid for or organised by NIHR.

Travel plans will need to be booked following your normal travel procedure and will be at your own/host organisation’s cost, unless you are a public contributor. Please discuss these arrangements with your supervisor or line manager.

The programme comprises of a variety of in-person and online activities. In-person workshops will be delivered at a residential venue and you will be responsible for travel arrangements. The following will be included in the programme:

  • Day 1 - refreshments, lunch, evening meal and overnight accommodation
  • Day 2 - breakfast, refreshments, and lunch

How do I apply?

In order to apply for the programme you will need to complete the application form on ARAMIS.  

All applications will be reviewed by a selection panel and if the programme is over subscribed the panel will ensure there is a balance of representation across NIHR Members.

How is the programme structured?

The programme incorporates a range of development opportunities including: residential workshops, 360 feedback activity, action learning sets/ peer support and individual coaching.

What are the key programme dates?

Application submission for the programme will open as follows:

  • Emerging Research Leaders - 25 July to 30 September 2022
  • Leaders - 30 August to 23 November 2022

Once the new programme dates have been finalised all the key dates will be updated on the FFLP webpage. Onboarding sessions will begin in January 2023.

In person residential workshop dates

Leading Self - ERL stream Birmingham City Centre Location 22 and 23 March 2023 
Leading Self - Leaders stream Birmingham City Centre Location 14 and 15 March 2023
Connect and Build - ERL stream Manchester City Centre Location 6 and 7 June 2023
Connect and Build - Leaders stream Manchester City Centre Location 14 and 15 June 2023
Leading Beyond Authority - ERL stream Reading City Centre Location 12 and 13 Sept 2023
Leading Beyond Authority - Leaders stream Reading City Centre Location 20 and 21 Sept 2023

Am I eligible if I attended the previous Leadership programme?

The target audiences for each stream of the programme are the same and the aims of the new programme are broadly similar, so you may not get anything new from this programme. We will therefore prioritise those who have not accessed the leadership programme previously.

If you participated as an ERL in the programme previously and are now in a role where you are leading nationally for NIHR, you are eligible to apply for the FFLP Leaders stream.

How does the new programme differ from the previous leadership programme?

The aims of the new programme are very similar to the previous programme, however it has been developed based on input from key stakeholders and is built around key Leadership Pillars.

The programme incorporates virtual workshops alongside a residential programme and in-person coaching sessions.

Is the programme COVID-19 secure?

For previous cohorts there have been some adaptations made to the programme design in light of COVID-19, including the first two residentials of the programme being converted to virtual experiences, delivered across two days of online sessions.

Any changes to the government guidance would be reflected in the delivery of the programme to ensure the safety of all participants.

What reasonable adjustments can be made?

We aim to ensure the programme is as accessible to participants as possible. We have ensured that all virtual workshops are captioned and for any in-person events access to a translator can be provided and paid for by the NIHR.

Alternative carer or child-care costs

If you usually care for or support someone (for example a disabled person or a child) and attendance of a FFLP residential means that you are unable to do this, we will reimburse reasonable costs of providing necessary alternative care whilst you are away. You will need to discuss any arrangement in advance, and be able to provide evidence of the costs, such as an invoice.

Accompanying carer

If it is necessary for an informal (unpaid) carer (such as a relative or friend) to accompany you on to a FFLP residential, they will be permitted to share your accommodation and their travel expenses will be covered.

Personal assistants and support workers

If you use a personal assistant or support worker to accompany you, their expenses and costs can also be covered. Please discuss any such arrangement in advance. For NIHR Academy to reimburse these costs you will need to provide evidence of the expenditure, such as an invoice. We can also pay the personal assistant or support worker directly.

What happens if I can’t attend one of the programme residentials or activities?

In applying for the programme, you are expected to ensure that you have availability to attend all of the residentials and activities that form part of the programme. However, we accept that extenuating circumstances may arise which may prevent your attendance. In such an instance, we would expect you to give as much notice as possible: you will be expected to contact the programme provider to discuss the situation and determine the best approach going forward.