Front-Line Leadership & Management Training for Network Rail

Network Rail has 13,000 personnel who work trackside, 24/7, in all conditions. Ensuring they are led by people skilled in engaging, motivating and making the right decisions, in high risk situations, is key to safety and high performance. A business and training needs analysis conducted throughout 2014 concluded that a formal learning development programme that built extensively upon previous successful front-line leadership courses including the PLP and the TLDP was needed.

The new Leadership Essentials (Infrastructure Workforce) LE(IW) course was introduced into Network Rail in April 2015. It is attended by Network Rail staff who are in, or are being considered for, front-line leadership roles across the Network Operations, Infrastructure Projects (IP) and National Delivery Service (NDS) functions. It is an eight-day programme split into two x four-day modules delivered approximately four weeks apart. Both modules are highly practical and impactful. They provide delegates with progressive opportunities to practise, re-practise and refine their leadership skills using contextualised scenarios to continually match the learning to the workplace. The programme incorporates behaviour development that is highly relevant to the Rail Industry’s Planning and Delivering Safe Work (PDSW) programme and will be of significant value to all Network Rail staff undertaking an SWL role.

What the LE (IW) Entails

The aim of the LE (IW) is to provide a hands-on, dynamic, action -centred learning experience that enables supervisors and team leaders to successfully apply the key managerial and practical leadership skills essential to lead operational teams in the workplace. From core capabilities such as leading, inspiring, motivating, communicating, planning and decision-making to practical skills such as managing assets, engaging the team, dealing with conflict and getting the best from individuals; the whole focus is on ensuring that Network Rail continues to provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway for the 21st century.

Module 1 Approach

Module 1 is a highly practical 4-day event that teaches delegates how to communicate effectively with colleagues, using a coaching approach to deal with difficult conversations and motivate individuals. This underpins their ability to learn and practise leadership and management skills to deliver effective front-line performance for individuals and teams. Delegates learn how to apply leadership behaviours and styles to manage task situations, individual traits and team dynamics.

Module 2 Approach

Module 2 is a highly practical 4-day event that links the objectives from Module 1 to more front line leadership requirements. This module incorporates the skills and tools to problem solve and plan effective solutions in complex scenarios. The learning encompasses a high level understanding of the business to underpin the fundamentals of managing and controlling risks and behaviours within all tasks. The culmination of both Modules is activity led sessions to assess leadership and communication skills; planning and problem solving; safety performance; relating these skills to a contextualised scenario. The activities are a combination of outdoor tasks and indoor permit-to-work scenarios that assess delegates in a variety of situations and environments.

End Results

One student described the course as a ‘life changing experience’ and another as ‘the best course that I have ever attended in 17 years of service on the railway’. Powerful testimony and ones that probably best sum up the impact that the new LE (IW) course is having already on the moral, motivation and, most importantly, the planning, decision-making and communication skills of Network Rail’s section managers, supervisors and team leaders. Behaviours are being changed in a positive, dramatic and, we believe, lasting way that will enable the Company to produce a work force that is entirely capable of delivering its remit of a safe, reliable and efficient railway for the 21st century.

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