Applications for the programme are currently closed.  Register your interest for future cohorts here.

The aim of the programme is to prepare participants in their first chief executive role and support them in role through exceptional development. The structure and delivery of the programme will mirror the chief executive role. It will assess that participants are fit, ready and capable – or not – of taking up the role.

The programme develops participants’ understanding and fluency with the governance, strategy, policy, shaping organisational culture and systems leadership aspects of a chief executive role, along with their personal leadership based on values, behaviour, credibility and presence.

The programme looks at the chief executive role within national and local systems, as well as the role in leading a provider organisation. Patient care, staff engagement and inclusion are golden threads in this programme. These features of the programme are mirrored in how we recruit to the programme and who is involved in the delivery of the programme. The views of NHS and system colleagues, patients and staff are considered as part of the final assessment of the readiness of participants.

The programme is delivered in line with the NHS Leadership Academy’s programme philosophies: rich content delivered (efficiently) online, face to face time dedicated to sense making, real application throughout, relevant and targeted assessment processes, and connections with other senior leaders.

As a cohort, you will work closely together at residential workshops applying your work, meeting and debating with invited guests. Your personal progress and development is discussed, monitored and finally assessed in smaller praxis groups which run much like action learning sets – with three clear differences:

  1. Dual facilitation – two people co-facilitate the praxis group – a member of the NHS Leadership Academy faculty and a serving chief executive
  2. The content of your discussions is driven by your development and progress rather than by external issues
  3. Peer assessment – it’s the praxis group – including the participants and the two facilitators – that assess your submissions and ultimately your readiness for the chief executive role


  • Content and knowledge is delivered online through a virtual campus; through a mix of video material including interviews, articles and reports. You have the flexibility to access this at a time that suits you
  • The approach to development is personal, pragmatic and applied. Each section of online content ends with a ‘call to action’ – you’ll be asked to apply your learning either in your organisation or a fellow participant’s organisation or during the residential workshops
  • At the residential workshops you’ll work with facilitators, guests and fellow participants to share perspectives, challenge and be challenged and apply your individual development
  • You will be asked to identify areas for development which are particularly relevant to you and the progress you need to make to be an effective and transformational chief executive
  • We’ll ask you to identify and work closely with a patient partner and a frontline staff mentor throughout the programme. These are key to your development and will work in a reverse-mentoring role, connecting your development to the frontline and patient care
  • Development throughout the programme is assessed by peer participants and programme faculty. Participants assessed as ready by the end of the programme to take up a chief executive or equivalent role in an organisation appropriate to their skills and experience will achieve the NHS Leadership Academy Chief Executive Award
Download our frequently asked questions here.