Podcast: Academics behind new course say ‘team leaders are the future’

Feb 16, 2022

3 min

  • Inspirational Team Coaching course aims to develop leaders for the 21st century
  • New course needed because occasional team-building activities and ‘away days’ are not enough for the needs of today
  • Inspirational Team Coaching will be split into three modules with launch due this autumn.

Top business academics at Aston University are devising a new team coaching course with the aim of ‘upskilling’ the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

The Inspirational Team Coaching course, to be launched this autumn, will lead to a Postgraduate Certificate from the Centre for Innovation in Enterprise Education at Aston Business School.

It has been developed by senior lecturer Dr Uwe Napiersky and senior teaching fellow Dr Elinor Vettraino, who discussed their plans in the latest episode in the ‘Aston means business' podcast series, presented by journalist Steve Dyson.

Dr Napiersky, who spent more than 20 years in international consultancy, explained that his motto for team coaching was “team excellence doesn’t come by itself”.

He said:

“Focused team coaching makes the difference between muddling through or performing as one – the team as a whole is the key, not the different egos. We all know the old ‘sum of the parts’ sentence which is more important than ever.”

Dr Napiersky said the new course helped their learners in areas such as collective team objectives and processes, and improved team dynamics. He said coaching was a “billion-dollar” industry and team coaching was one of the “newest kids in town.

He added:

“One of my slogans is ‘innovation is a team effort’. Many leaders still believe in this model of the 20th century, but it’s more about the 21st century, leadership more in a team direction.”

His colleague Dr Vettraino, who incorporates team coaching into her consultancy work, said:

“Organisations make an assumption that people know how to work together in teams and actually that’s often not the case.”

She said that while employers tend to have team building activities, “they don’t address the day-to-day challenges and benefits of working in teams the way a coaching process can.”

Dr Vettraino explained that team coaching can lead to increased motivation for staff, enabling innovation and creativity to grow, along with collaboration – which she said was “a key to surviving in industry nowadays”.

She added:

“Being supported by a team coach adds tremendous benefit to an organisation.”

The course, to be delivered by experienced coaches and team leaders, is divided into three modules, with the first on ‘foundational knowledge and essentials’.

Dr Napiersky said:

“We go into team learning, we go into the area of innovating teams, and we will definitely look into real world team challenges our students will have.”

The second module is focused on ‘Tasks and Mindset’. Dr Vettraino said its purpose was to take some of the foundational knowledge and put it into practice, by “looking at developing participants’ innovation, creativity, problem-solving and risk-taking capacity and mindset”.

She added:

“It’s going to enable the participants to really dig into the playfulness and creativity of their own coaching practice that will enable them to find new and different ways of working with teams.”

The third and final module looks at developing ‘Professional Practice’. “It’s really in the third unit that participants start their own swimming and with their own swimming style,” explained Dr Napiersky. The understanding goes from unprepared to clear for themselves, from singular to systemic, from messy to focused or muddling through to structured.”

Dr Vettraino chipped in:

“There’s a lot of opportunity here to develop really rich projects in relation to their coaching practice. What we want them to do is hone their skills and capacity for inspirational team coaching with real clients they are working with so they can develop a very rich understanding of putting the first year module’s learning into practice.”

To prepare students for the real world, Dr Napiersky said:

“There’s a lot for internal coaches to do – getting teams clearer, getting them working, and helping them to build up more capacity, and applying the skills they will learn on this course.”

Dr Vettraino said:

“This skill base will enable people who are currently practising, perhaps as consultant coaches of their own practice, to develop something that adds to their toolkit. They can take it into their own practice and potentially even coaching other organisations.”

To find out more about the programme email e.vettraino@aston.ac.uk or u.napiersky@aston.ac.uk.

▪ Episode 5 in series 4 of ‘Aston means business’ podcast can be found HERE.

You might also like...

Check out some other posts from Aston University

2 min

Aston University researcher takes on leadership role within biomedical engineering

Dr Antonio Fratini is the new chair of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Biomedical Engineering Division It is one of the largest group of professional biomedical engineers in the UK The specialism merges professional engineering with medical knowledge of the human body, such as artificial limbs and robotic surgery. An Aston University researcher has been given a leading role within the biomedical engineering sector. Dr Antonio Fratini CEng MIMechE has been elected as the new chair of the Biomedical Engineering Division (BmED) of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), one of the largest groups of professional biomedical engineers in the UK. The IMechE has around 115,000 members in 140 countries and has been active since 1847. Biomedical engineering, also known as medical engineering or bioengineering, is the integration of engineering with medical knowledge to help tackle clinical problems and improve healthcare outcomes. Dr Fratini previously served as chair of the Birmingham centre of the division for five years and as vice-chair of the division for one year. His research includes responsible use of AI, 3D segmentation and anatomical modelling to improve surgical training and planning, motor functions and balance rehabilitation. He leads Aston University’s Engineering for Health Research Centre within the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and has vast experience in the design, development and testing of new medical devices. Currently he is the University’s principal investigator for the West Midlands Health Tech Innovation Accelerator and he has a growing reputation in the UK and internationally within the biomedical engineering profession. He said: “Biomedical engineering is continuously evolving and our graduates will create the future of health tech and med tech for more effective, sustainable, responsible and personalised healthcare. “I am very honoured of this appointment. This three-year post will be a great opportunity to further develop the biomedical engineering profession worldwide and to show Aston University’s commitment to an inclusive, entrepreneurial and transformational impact within the field.” Professor Helen Meese, outgoing chair of the division, said: “I am delighted to see Antonio take on the chair’s position. He has, over the years, contributed significantly to the growth of the Birmingham regional centre and has actively supported me throughout my tenure as chair. I know how passionate he is about our profession and will undoubtedly continue to drive the division forward over the next three years.” Dr Frattini was presented with his new title on 20 June at the IMECHE HQ at 1 Birdcage Walk, London during the Institution’s technology strategy board meeting. For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7825 342091 or email: n.jones6@aston.ac.uk

3 min

Aston University researcher develops method of making lengthy privacy notices easier to understand

It has been estimated it would take 76 days per year to fully read privacy notices New method makes notices quicker and easier to understand by converting them into machine-readable formats Team designed a JavaScript Object Notation schema which allowed them to validate, annotate, and manipulate documents. An Aston University researcher has suggested a more human-friendly way of reading websites’ long-winded privacy notices. A team led by Dr Vitor Jesus has developed a system of making them quicker and easier to understand by converting them into machine-readable formats. This technique could allow the browser to guide the user through the document with recommendations or highlights of key points. Providing privacy information is one of the key requirements of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK Data protection Act but trawling through them can be a tedious manual process. In 2012, The Atlantic magazine estimated it would take 76 days per year to diligently read privacy notices. Privacy notices let people know what is being done with their data, how it will be kept safe if it’s shared with anyone else and what will happen to it when it’s no longer needed. However, the documents are written in non-computer, often legal language, so in the paper Feasibility of Structured, Machine-Readable Privacy Notices Dr Jesus and his team explored the feasibility of representing privacy notices in a machine-readable format. Dr Jesus said: “The notices are essential to keep the public informed and data controllers accountable, however they inherit a pragmatism that was designed for different contexts such as software licences or to meet the - perhaps not always necessary - verbose completeness of a legal contract. “And there are further challenges concerning updates to notices, another requirement by law, and these are often communicated off-band e.g., by email if a user account exists.” Between August and September 2022, the team examined the privacy notices of 50 of the UK’s most popular websites, from globally organisation such as google.com to UK sites such as john-lewis.com. They covered a number of areas such as online services, news and fashion to be representative. The researchers manually identified the notices’ apparent structure and noted commonly-themed sections, then designed a JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) schema which allowed them to validate, annotate, and manipulate documents. After identifying an overall potential structure, they revisited each notice to convert them into a format that was machine readable but didn’t compromise both legal compliance and the rights of individuals. Although there has been previous work to tackle the same problem, the Aston University team focused primarily on automating the policies rather than data collection and processing. Dr Jesus, who is based at the University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences said: “Our research paper offers a novel approach to the long-standing problem of the interface of humans and online privacy notices. “As literature and practice, and even art, for more than a decade have identified, privacy notices are nearly always ignored and ”accepted” with little thought, mostly because it is not practical nor user-friendly to depend on reading a long text simply to access, for example a news website. Nevertheless, privacy notices are a central element in our digital lives, often mandated by law, and with dire, often invisible, consequences.” The paper was published and won best paper at the International Conference on Behavioural and Social Computing, November 2023, now indexed at IEEE Xplore. The team are now examining if AI can be used to further speed up the process by providing recommendations to the user, based on past preferences.

2 min

Aston University optometrists take up global industry association roles

Professor Nicola Logan has been named a global myopia management ambassador by the World Council of Optometry Dr Debarun Dutta is the new academic chair of the British Contact Lens Association Aston University School of Optometry is ranked in the top 10 for research in the Complete University Guide 2024 Professor Nicola Logan and Dr Debarun Dutta from Aston University’s School of Optometry have both been appointed to major roles within optometry industry associations. The School of Optometry is regularly ranked highly by both leading national ranking publications and in annual student-led surveys. This includes a top 10 ranking for research and a top five ranking for graduate prospects in the Complete University Guide 2024, and first in the UK for student/staff ratio in health professions (optometry) in the Guardian University Guide 2024. Professor Logan, professor of optometry and physiological optics and deputy head of the School, has been named a global myopia management ambassador by the World Council of Optometry (WCO). She is one of four new ambassadors named by the WCO in collaboration with CooperVision, a leading myopia management company. WCO and CooperVision have developed a myopia management online tool which reflects WCO’s global standard of myopia care. In March 2024, Professor Logan presented her inaugural lecture at Aston University on her research into the nature of myopia, the growing evidence base on strategies to control eye growth in children and translation of these findings to clinical practice. She said about her appointment as an ambassador: “I am thrilled to be appointed as the global myopia management ambassador for the World Council of Optometry. This role provides me with a valuable platform to advance the recognition of myopia as a significant public health concern and to facilitate the translation of research into effective, evidence-based clinical practice strategies for children with myopia.” Dr Dutta, a lecturer in optometry, has been appointed the new academic chair of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA). He will lead the BCLA’s academic output, including offering guidance and advice to the BCLA council about scientific and academic elements of contact lenses. Dr Dutta will initially work alongside current academic chair, Professor James Wolffsohn, Aston University’s head of optometry, who is currently on sabbatical from the University, before taking over when Professor Wolffsohn steps down in 2025. Dr Dutta said: “I am hugely excited at the prospect of delivering academic provision of the British Contact Lens Association, with a specific focus on a highly prestigious conference programme as we grow our reputation as a global leader in contact lens and anterior eye education. This is a rare opportunity to work alongside our association members, fellows, trustees, global ambassadors and volunteers inspiring a new era for the BCLA, and to support our growth and development ambitions through delivery of educational activities within the contact lens and anterior eye specialism.”

View all posts