Equipping newly-promoted people-managers with vital, practical and immediately applicable skills, among a supportive community of peers.

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Update: New First Time Leader cohorts are running remotely from July 2020 onwards, as part of our Leading Now programme. More on that here.


First Time Leaders is a unique 12 week accelerator designed to supersize the capability and conficdence of recently promoted managers. As well as setting up participants for success within their own teams, the cross-organisational nature of the programme enables the sharing of experiences, networking, and learning among a supportive group of peers. Past programme participants have joined from growth-oriented rganisations including Ted Baker, Trainline, Ennismore, NSPCC, The Guardian, Universal Records, Else, Koto, the National Theatre, Farfetch, Action for Children and Everyman Cinemas.

The programme has been designed alongside creatively-driven organisations from across our learning network, to reflect the most common challenges their First Time Leaders face. Recently promoted managers must navigate the tests of team dynamics, setting goals, having challenging conversations both upwards, and with their new reports — all while managing their own workload too.

The National Theatre's Louise Richardson

To fast-track effective approaches to these competing demands, participants come together for six energising and focussed workshop sessions, led by a coach facilitator who works with the group throughout. Sessions combine peer group coaching, and topic specific learning — with expert practitioners to deliver content on-point to their specialisms; from building resilience to developing a coaching mindset. Individual action commitments, shared at the end  of each session, ensure that new capabilities are put into immediate practice at work, with time for review and reflection inbetween sessions.  Digital resources are also shared with the group, to complement all that’s covered in-person.

Programme overview

• Over 12 weeks participants experience six, half-day, practitioner led workshops.

• Sessions are hosted in YCN learning and partner spaces in London.

• Participants join a 12 strong, cross organisational learning group for the duration of the programme, led by a coach-facilitator who works with the group throughout.

• Expert practitioners join sessions.

• Digital resources, recommended reading and action commitments complement what happens in-person.

• The programme provides a rich context for connecting and learning with peers and with a strong alumni network.

Workshop participants from Airbnb and Propercorn in a past programme cohort

Core areas of focus:

1. Your Management Style
Stepping up involves self-awareness, purpose and being 'yourself with skill'. As different people respond to your style differently, we'll explore how to adapt and get the best out of them.

2. The Power of Feedback
Memorably providing and meaningfully pulling in quality feedback continually, and from different directions, has never been a more vital skill for managers. We'll share and try out tools for immediate use in our teams.

3. Resilience
Being resilient doesn’t mean being totally immune to stress, but being better equipped in busy, changing and challenging times. How can we stay energised and resilient individually and as a team?

4. Coaching Mindsets
Improve your leadership style with direct reports, through better listening and questioning. Enable others to be the best they can be. We'll be working towards ninja levels of listening, and empowered to know what questions to ask, how and when.

5. Goals and Performance
Involving those around us in the process of setting individual and team goals is fundamental to the process of making them stick. We'll be learning about practical, purposeful and empowering ways to get teams pulling in the same direction.

6.Motivation and Impact
Getting to the bottom of individual motivations within our teams can be testing and time consuming. But knowing where motivations lie, gives a powerful lever with which to drive individual and collective performance. We'll practice proven methods — from empowering through praise, to communicating belief.

Programme practitioners Ella Reynolds and Scott Morrison

Practitioner led learning

External practitioners join key sessions, bringing their own subject matter expertise, to complement the coach-facilitator that works with the group throughout.

Programme Practitioners include:

Erik Rodin
Erik is on a mission to help people, teams and organisations change the way they work for the better. He’s led teams at August in New York, WhatIf? in London and ran the Hyper Island MA in Digital Management.

Liz Whitney
Liz spent 16 years working in marketing, design and digital product development agencies and today supports creatively driven leaders as a coach and consultant.

Scott Morrison
Scott began his career in advertising before moving client side, heading up marketing for brands including Levis and Diesel. Today he runs the The Boom! and recently co-authored Creative Superpowers.

Hilary Gallo
Hilary is a coach and author, helping people to purposefully work to their strengths. His best-selling book ‘The Power of Soft’ will shortly be followed by a brand new publication titled ‘Fear Hack’.

Creative Superpowers: Co-authored by programme practitioner Scott Morrison

Testimonials from past participants

“Unlike any development programme I’ve taken part in before. This felt more like a series of powerful conversations that fundamentally changed how I think about my work and my style as a leader.

"I'm taking my learnings back to work but thinking they are great for my home and parenting life too, some of these skills are seriously Jedi stuff.

"The sessions gave me a set of tools and guidance that I now refer to every day now in my job to help me make decisions and better react to situations. My confidence in my new role as a manager has increased because I am no longer second-guessing myself."

"I found that discussing real-world scenarios with the other participants has equipped me in a way that no amount of reading self-help books would have. At the same time, now reading those books I find them easier to digest because the course gave me a good foundation in ideas and subject that can be challenging to access."

"A great opportunity to test ideas in a safe space, away from the judgement of your peers and amongst people who are also keen to learn."

"Katy was a great host and course leader, and I enjoyed learning from different experts across the sessions, which added a nice sense of variety and perspectives."

"I already miss my sessions, it was a really great experience so thank you for putting on such a thorough and thoughtful course." 

"It sounds really cheesey but it felt like we went on a bit of a journey together, everyone was really supportive and it made it feel like a really good space for sharing ideas and learning from each other."

“Beautifully personalised, warm and convivial. I feel like I’ve made a brilliant new gang of career champions.”

“I took back practical things I could do and review among my team from day one."

“ I felt everyone came in with challenges and came out with really valuable new perspectives.”

“I had an exit interview with our Senior Account Manager yesterday. She said that she’s noticed a big shift in my leadership and management style since the programme – mainly in terms of confidence and clarity of feedback, which was really good to hear – so thank you for making that happen!”

Coach Facilitator Erik Rodin and Kate Ashton from Beyond Words

Coming cohorts

Our next programme cohorts launch in January and February 2020. Places cost £2800 + VAT with concessions for YCN members and early-bird places available.

2020 Cohort Dates

February cohort
All sessions run 9am—1pm in central London spaces

Wednesday 19th February 
Wednesday 4th March 
Wednesday 18th March 
Wednesday 1st April 
Wednesday 15th April 
Tuesday 28th April

May Cohort
All sessions run 9am—1pm in central London spaces

Wednesday 20th May
Wednesday 3rd June 
Wednesday 17th June 
Wednesday 1st July 
Wednesday 15th July
Wednesday 29th July

Please email Katy Kent for further details.

Download a programme PDF here.

Partner with us

We provide growth-oriented organisations of all shapes and sizes with social, motivating and behaviourally-driven approaches to building capability throughout their teams — wherever they’re working from.

With an emphasis on virtual and remote delivery; our pioneering programmes bring people together to build skills among peers, and immediately apply them to the commercial and cultural challenges of the day.

To learn more about our transformative work with partners ranging from Dr. Martens to Dishoom, Adidas to Action for Children; and to explore ways we can support your teams — email Nick Defty or call +44 (0)20 7033 2140.

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