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NIHR Leaders Support and Development Programme

The NIHR Leaders Support and Development Programme seeks to maintain and improve the quality of leadership in health and social care research. We aim to do this by meeting the development needs of current leaders and early to mid-career researchers within the NIHR, whose focus is aligned with the strategic priorities of the NIHR.

Our programme embodies in its design, structure, and approach the NIHR’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.  We are continually developing our provision to meet the evolving needs of our leadership communities. Provision currently includes:

  • The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme. This new programme offers postdoctoral NIHR Academy Members the opportunity to seek support for their academic and career development from a mentor drawn from our wide NIHR leadership community.
  • Future-focused Leaders Programme. Our flagship leadership programme for NIHR Leaders and NIHR Emerging Research Leaders. Places on our current programmes have been allocated. Future programmes will be announced.
  • Leadership Development Resources. A suite of flexible, online modular resources to support your leadership and management development.
  • Coming soon: Engagement activities for NIHR’s leadership community.

Mentoring Programme

The NIHR Academy provides postdoctoral members with career development support through its mentoring programme.

The refreshed NIHR Academy programme supports postdoctoral Academy Members from a broad range of professional and disciplinary contexts across our diverse health and social care communities to mentor others and to seek a mentor. It builds on the NIHR Academy mentoring programme that was previously delivered with the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The new programme will not impact on the programme delivered by our partnership with Health Education England, supporting researchers who are in receipt of an Integrated Clinical Academic award. 

The programme has been developed and guided by a Steering Group whose membership is representative of Academy Members.

The programme aims to support the academic and career development of our postdoctoral communities by:

  • extending the NIHR Academy mentoring offering to postdoctoral award holders from disciplines and professional backgrounds which may not have a strong mentoring tradition, or may not have had access to programmes such as this in the past
  • promoting interdisciplinarity; mentees will be able to seek a mentor from a cognate or complementary discipline or professional background, where appropriate
  • supporting mentoring relationships between individuals from different organisations and institutions
  • promoting equality, inclusion and diversity through engagement with, and learning from, under-represented groups

Mentors and mentees will be supported throughout their participation in the programme through regular professional development events and resources. They will also have access to a mentoring platform to support and guide their mentoring relationships.

How to participate in the NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme

Potential mentors and mentees will be able to express their interest in joining the programme at any time, however matching of mentors and mentees will take place three times during 2021.

To join the programme as a mentee, you should be an NIHR Academy Member and hold an NIHR award at postdoctoral level and/or hold a postdoctoral position and be based in NIHR Infrastructure (e.g. BRC) or in an NIHR School.

To join the programme as a mentor, you will be an NIHR research leader, or established as a leader in an NIHR research priority area or NIHR stakeholder group. You may be an NIHR Academy Member or Associate Member, for example a NIHR research professor or senior investigator, or a NIHR postdoctoral researcher with significant postdoctoral experience (typically, at least 5 years). You may be contributing to NIHR's work at a senior leadership level, for example, as an awarding panel member, or a senior leader in the NIHR including its Centres, Infrastructure and Schools. As we expand and diversify our research, we are also keen to welcome mentors from disciplines, professions and demographics that are currently under-represented in the NIHR.

Once enrolled in the mentoring programme, mentees will be matched with a mentor from our mentor pool. 

Express an interest in joining the programme

I am interested in becoming a mentor: complete this form to express your interest to join our mentor community

I am interested in seeking a mentor: complete this form to express your interest to join our mentee community

Due to the high level of interest in our mentoring programme, we cannot guarantee that applicants will be selected to the cohort for which they apply. We will move unsuccessful applications forward into a later cohort and inform you accordingly. 

Mentoring cohort dates

2021 CohortsCohort applications closeOrientation eventMentoring begins
Cohort 1 12 April 2021 End April May
Cohort 2 28 May 2021 Mid June July
Cohort 3 16 July 2021 Mid September October

Mentoring resources 

The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme is a valuable development opportunity for postdoctoral researchers looking for a mentor. Mentees benefit from one-to-one support for their career development and time for personal growth and reflection.

Mentorship can be rewarding for mentors too, who are contributing to the development of our future research leaders. Both parties can gain new perspectives and fresh ideas, and expand their professional networks.

To help you learn about the value of mentoring and find mentorship support, you can read the following article:

For further information about the NIHR Mentoring Programme, please contact the NIHR Development and Support team  


Leadership Development Resources

NIHR Leadership Lab online learning resources

We provide a suite of online learning resources to support NIHR Academy Members  who wish to enhance their leadership and management skills. The modules are also available to health and care researchers within the NIHR.

The Leadership Lab resources are delivered as individual modules. You can work through the modules as a series, as standalone topics, or use them as flexible resources to dip into as and when you need them.

Each module includes practical activities to reinforce your learning and encourage reflection, with additional resources and further reading being signposted throughout each module.

Visit Leadership Lab online learning resources module descriptions to find out about the content of each module. The following modules are currently available online, with further topics under development:

  • collaborating across organisational boundaries
  • courageous and compelling conversations
  • building resilience to navigate complexity and change
  • empowerment and motivation
  • creative problem solving
  • leader as coach
  • my leadership brand
  • compassionate and inclusive leadership
  • building an effective network
  • building strength in your team

To access the Leadership Lab modules, log into the NIHR’s online learning platform NIHR Learn and select Leadership Development. To register with NIHR Learn, visit Accessing NIHR Learn.


We regularly host webinars designed to support your leadership and management development. All of our modular resources have webinars associated with them, such as ‘Compassionate and inclusive leadership’ along with additional webinars covering a wide variety of topics such as ‘Coaching for success’ and ‘Optimising your energy for peak performance’.

To learn about forthcoming webinars, you will find them promoted on the Events page of the NIHR website. You can access the previous webinars on our Development and Support playlist on the NIHR YouTube channel.


Our leadership workshops have been designed to support the development of your leadership skills. Each workshop will offer you the chance to share, learn, and try practical tools and techniques to help you to become the leader you would like to be.

Details of forthcoming workshops are detailed on the Events page of the NIHR website. 

NIHR Academy Members Conference

Each year we host a conference for Academy Members. In 2020 the conference theme was “Research for Everyone” and included a series of workshops that included topics such as resources and toolkits for increasing participation from diverse communities in research, how to increase the visibility, accuracy and accessibility of health and care information on Wikipedia and guidance on undertaking research with underserved communities. You can access the replay of the keynote, panel and workshops delivered at the conference website.

For more information about any of the leaders development resources please contact the NIHR Development and Support team

Future-Focused Leadership Programme

The new Future-Focused Leadership Programme enables you to develop your capabilities and effectiveness as a leader by identifying and reflecting on your strengths and areas for development.

The programme is arranged into two streams, targeting distinct groups of Leaders:

  1. The Emerging Research Leaders stream is for early to mid-career researchers on an academic track, who are taking up their first significant leadership and management roles. This programme will enable you to collaboratively explore management and leadership in health research and what it means at an individual, team, institution and system level in order to improve your leadership and management capability.
  2. The Leaders stream is for current leaders based within NIHR or delivering a national role for NIHR. You will be developing into or taking up leadership roles at a senior level, facing significant leadership challenges, where support will be most needed and impactful. This programme will enhance your skills in leading across organisational boundaries, leading strategy and change and influencing others to achieve the strategic aims of NIHR.

The success framework

The Future-Focused Leadership Programme has been developed specifically for the NIHR following an in-depth analysis to understand what makes a successful leader. The programme offers you the opportunity to explore new thinking on how to lead in the 21st century. We have created the programme with reference to years of research in the fields of occupational psychology and applied positive psychology.

The programme is designed around exploring Leading Yourself, Leading Others and Leading Beyond Authority.

Programme format

The Future-Focused Leadership Programme extends over a period of twelve months and incorporates three residential workshops, webinars and online modules. You will be able to apply the insights you uncover and the new skills you learn to your current role throughout the year and will be encouraged to network and share your experience and learning with fellow delegates.

An overview of the Future-Focused Leadership Programme outlines the course structure. Please note that due to Covid restrictions all modules are currently being delivered online. The programme is continually reviewed so that we can return to in-person delivery when appropriate. 

Places on our current programmes have been allocated. We will reopen applications in the spring of 2022 and the programme dates will be announced on this page.

For further information about the Future-Focused Leadership Programme please email the NIHR Academy Development and Support team at   


Latest news from the Academy

Latest resources for Leaders Development and Support

Leadership Lab online learning resources module descriptions

NIHR Leadership Lab is a suite of online resources for self-directed leadership and management training

Beginning the mentoring relationship

Resource to support the Academy postdoctoral mentoring programme, advice on beginning the mentoring relationship

Phases of the mentoring relationship

Resource to support the Academy postdoctoral mentoring programme, outline of phases of the mentoring relationship

Overview of the NIHR Future-Focused Leadership Programme

Background and course structure for NIHR Future Focused Leadership Programme

Mentoring core competencies

Resource to support the Academy postdoctoral mentoring programme, outlining the key competencies expected of mentors with different levels of experience

All Leaders Development and Support resources