Staff profile

Dr Fred Paterson

Senior Lecturer in Leadership Development




College of Business, Law and Social Sciences


Derby Business School

Research centre

Centre for Business Improvement


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Senior Lecturer in Leadership Development (with a PhD in professional learning) who specialises in system leadership and how people learn to become leaders.  I am currently working on a collaborative action research project with two local authorities to improve energy efficiency across the whole school estate and also lead the Business Innovation for a Low Carbon Economy group.

For most of my career I have worked in public sector organisations: Schools, Local Authorities, Universities and the National College for School Leadership, where I was Head of Knowledge and Learning.

My main interest has always been in how people learn to become high performing professionals and leaders. I have worked with a host of talented leaders in public and private sector organisations and believe passionately in the inexorable link between our motivation and ability to learn and the potential we exhibit as leaders. Like their counterparts in public service, great business leaders are always learning.

More recently, I have worked with people who lead beyond the remit of their own organisation to fulfil common purposes; in public services, in supply chains and in particular, with people working collaboratively to create a sustainable future and low carbon economy.  I am most interested in exploring how people achieve these aims in the most volatile and complex business and public sector environments.

I take an outcomes based approach to consultancy, coaching and professional learning. This means finding straight forward ways to help people, teams and organisations build on their strengths and maximise their potential in order to make a real difference to their staff, clients, customers and service users.

Teaching responsibilities

Professional interests

I lead the Business Innovation for A Low Carbon Economy special interest group within the Business School and represent the University on the Low Carbon forum of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

My specialist interests:

Research interests

I am currently investigating the nature of whole system leadership through a study into the de-carbonisation of schools in Derby and Derbyshire. A key focus of this research is how experience and learning supports individuals to lead effectively beyond their organisational remit.

I have extensive experience in qualitative and collaborative research methods – and the use of software (such as Nvivo) as an aid to qualitative data analysis.

Writers and researchers that have influenced my understanding and practice of leadership and learning include: Ronald Heifetz, Edgar Schein, Margaret Wheatley, Peter Senge, Deborah Ancona, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Nancy Mohr, John Whitmore, Michael Fullan, Linda Lambert.


Recent conferences

Experience in industry

I have worked in leadership development for over ten years in the schools sector and more recently in Children’s Services and the private sector.

In addition to my role in the Centre for Leadership Development, I am a Business Coach on Derby City Council's - ‘Coaching For Success’ programme, helping SMEs within Derby to improve their performance, grow and create new jobs.

I was previously Head of Knowledge and Learning and a senior researcher at the National College for School Leadership between 2001-2011; where I was a Lead Coach and co-authored 'Leading Coaching in Schools' with Jane Creasy.

I am also an Associate of the Virtual Staff College (who provide leadership development nationally for Directors of Children's Services) where I co-facilitated the national Mentor Induction for Directors of Children's Services Programme; and recently provided coaching and action learning capacity building training for senior managers in several local authorities in the East of England.

I also run my own consultancy (4ldrs) that provides experiential and discovery based learning experiences for leaders at every level of organisations and communities.

Recent publications