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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:

  • Future-Focused Leadership Programme. Our flagship leadership programme for NIHR Leaders and NIHR Emerging Research Leaders. 
  • The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme. This new programme offers post-doctoral NIHR Academy Members the opportunity to seek support for their academic and career development from a mentor drawn from our wide NIHR leadership community.
  • Leadership Development Resources. A suite of flexible, online modular resources to support your leadership and management development.

Future-Focused Leadership Programme

The NIHR Academy provides postdoctoral Academy Members with leadership development through its Future-Focused Leadership Programme.

The programme enables you to develop your capabilities and effectiveness as a leader by identifying and reflecting on your strengths and areas for development.

It 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.

Express an interest in joining the programme

The Emerging Research Leaders stream of the programme is now open for applications, to apply complete an expression of interest form:

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.

Here's what some of our participants say about the programme

“Despite doing other leadership courses, I feel this has been the most relevant to me in terms of bite-size pieces of learning that are wholly relevant” - Leader

“I was lucky enough to attend the Emerging Research Leaders programme and I highly recommend it for NIHR Academy members. It helped me develop my leadership skills and have the confidence to take the next steps in my career." - Dr Jane Freeman, Associate Professor in Clinical Microbiology at University of Leeds

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 of the last cohort.

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

Future-Focused Leadership cohort dates

Cohorts 2 Applications openApplications closeCourse launch
Emerging Research Leaders 18 April  16 June October
Leaders Autumn Late 2023 Early 2024

In person residential Cohort 2 workshop dates

Leading Self - ERL stream TBC January 2024
Leading Self - Leaders stream TBC May 2024
Connect and Build - ERL stream TBC April 2024
Connect and Build - Leaders stream TBC September 2024
Leading Beyond Authority - ERL stream TBC July 2024
Leading Beyond Authority - Leaders stream TBC November 2024

Future-Focused Leadership resources

Mentoring Programme

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

The refreshed NIHR Academy programme supports post-doctoral 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.

This 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 post-doctoral communities by:

  • extending the NIHR Academy mentoring offering to post-doctoral 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. 

Note that this programme is for researchers undertaking research in England. Currently there are networking events specifically for GHR academy member  and a mentoring programme for GHR academy members is being developed.

Here's what some of our mentees and mentors have to say about the programme

“Thank you for the opportunity of being matched, this has been really helpful and something I would have struggled with without the NIHR assistance” - Mentee

“Mentoring others can create useful reflections on my own development” - Mentor

View more testimonials on the mentoring programme.

How to participate in the NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme

To join the programme as a mentee, you should be an NIHR Postdoctoral Academy Members, at least two years, who hold an NIHR postdoctoral award and/or hold a postdoctoral position and are based in NIHR Infrastructure (e.g. BRC) or in an NIHR School. You will need to have a minimum of six months remaining on your postdoctoral funding or NIHR personal award from the close of applications of the mentoring programme.

Express an interest in joining the programme

Cohort 2 is now close. Cohort 3 will reopen in September 2023.

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 be prioritising under-represented groups and those groups that have not historically had access to a mentoring programme. We will move unsuccessful applications forward into a later cohort and inform you accordingly.

Mentoring cohort dates

2023 CohortsCohort applications openCohort applications closeOrientation eventMentoring begins
Cohort 1 -2023 16 January 2023 24 February 2023 24 March 2023 28 March 2023
Cohort 2 -2023  21 March 2023 28 April 2023 14-16 June TBC
Cohort 3 -2023 11 September 2023 20 October 2023 TBC TBC

Mentoring resources

The NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme is a valuable development opportunity for post-doctoral 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 articles:

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

NIHR Annual Mentoring Programme - evaluation report

Annually the mentoring programme is independently evaluated, creating an overview of the programme over the last year. The evaluation comprises of three individual cohort reports (cohort 1, 2 3, 2021) which includes case studies from a range of mentee/mentor matched pair interviews conducted at the end of the mentoring relationship. View the reports:

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:

  • 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
  • optimising development
  • leading change and innovation

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 2021 the conference theme was “Improving the lives of people with multiple long-term conditions through research” and included a series of workshops that included topics such as resources and toolkits for better use of patient reported outcomes, interactions between physical health and mental health, the use of big data and effective patient and public involvement. 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