Leadership Forum

What is a Leadership Forum?

The meetings structure in an organisation is usually based on departmental teams. Typically the Executive Team hold meetings as a group and then individually hold Team Meetings with their next tier managers along functional lines. Many organisations have some form of meeting or conference for the top three tiers as a whole at less frequent intervals. Experience suggests the effectiveness of this can be variable.

Leadership Forum is UIMPROVE terminology for putting some structure to this meeting and setting up an annual programme of regular, as opposed to random, activity. This provides the opportunity to hear and develop common messages, do work together, prevent silo working and to develop a consistent approach to leading and running the organisation.

Who should attend?

The Corporate Brain - Managing Director or Chief Executive + direct reports
The Next Tier Down - all direct reports to the above
Any other leaders of large teams or key organisational players but no hangers on

The thinking behind and purpose of a Leadership Forum

It gives the Chief Executive direct access to the Next Tier Down - a level they would normally only have limited direct access to

It allows the Corporate Brain to collectively interact with the Next Tier Down

It is an opportunity to develop alignment and consistency of an organisation's leaders - it brings together the senior leaders in one group so that everybody hears and develops one message and approach

It is a structural way of living the message of inter-departmental cooperation

It is not about departmental presentations, nor is it a roadshow, it is a participative way to steer and lead on key issues for the organisation

It should be integrated into the Annual Corporate Planning Process

Responsibility for the quality of leadership in an organisation lies at the top. A Leadership Forum is a means of improving this.

It provides the ideal setting for reviewing Staff Survey results, then identifying and progressing areas for improvement


Typical topics

An effective Leadership Forum has an annual programme of topics (linked to the Annual Corporate Planning Process). There is strength in predictability and repetition.

Leader Speaks
The tone and content of this session are notably different to a Leader Speaks at, for example, an Executive Event. This is because the majority of participants at a Leadership Forum do not work directly for the Chief Executive. Therefore it is important that the contents do not short-circuit the reporting lines. However it is important that the boss gets to address the whole leadership population in one go at regular intervals.

Annual Strategy Briefing
This provides the opportunity to brief in the work already carried out by the Executive Team. The Next Tier Down can then add their thoughts and contributions, consider the consequences for their part of the organisation and begin to think about how the strategies will be delivered.

Briefing in of and contribution at a high level to key developments and corporate projects

Interchange exercises
This is UIMPROVE jargon for exercises where each team shares key facts including what it is working on followed by the opportunity for other teams to ask questions.

Review of Customer Survey results
It is this group that should be the true owners of the Customer Survey, they and their Direct Reports are closer to the customer, will be better informed about the detail of any issues raised, and should be identifying areas for further investigation and well as prioritising and setting up departmental and team projects to improve customer satisfaction.

Review of Staff Survey results
This group should also be the true owners of the Staff Survey, the reasons being the same as for the Customer Survey. They are the group with their ear to the ground on a daily basis, are responsible for setting out expectations of the way their managers manage and setting the tone of day-to-day life in their department.

Reorganisations and changes in key people
Leadership Forum plays a key role in the implementation of and briefing in reorganisations.

Interesting external speakers

It can provide the first stage of the organisational team brief

Topics to avoid

Real Work
Leadership Forum is not the best place to do Real Work as the group is too diverse for specific topics. A possible exception might be very high level scoping of corporate projects.

'Team building' activities
The members of Leadership Forum are not a team. This is the only place they should be meeting as a group and therefore team development is a waste of time and effort.

Typical duration

Duration can be from half-a-day to a whole day depending on what needs to be done.


Suggested frequency is every 3 or 4 months

Additional meetings can be held when major change is occurring

One meeting per year should be devoted to Strategy Briefing

There is an option for an annual overnight meeting as part of the programme

The role of the UIC

The UIC has extensive experience of helping to set up and run the Leadership Forum in a wide variety of organisations, both large and small.

Firstly we sit down with the leader of the organisation to identify current issues and priorities and then plan the structure of the day. We design each session and suggest suitable tools and techniques. On the day itself, we will facilitate, working closely with the leader. Afterwards, we'll sit down again and review the day.

Use your own Facilitators

If we have trained Facilitators in your organisation, we can provide additional training so that they can carry out this type of assignment for you through the Advanced Facilitator Development Programme.


Click here for the Leadership Forum Briefing Note.