Dr Fred Paterson

Position: Senior Lecturer in Leadership Development

College: College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

Department: Derby Business School

Subject area: Business and Management

Research Centre: Business Innovation for a Low Carbon Economy

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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

  • Module Leader for postgraduate Business Impact dissertation studies.
  • Research Methods support for Independent Studies postgraduate dissertation Module.
  • Module leader for the Leadership and Systems Thinking element of the Masters in Innovation and Business Intelligence.
  • Co-facilitator of the Post-graduate Business Students’ Residential.

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:

  • Leadership Learning - coaching, action learning and communities of practice
  • Systems innovation, sustainability and change leadership
  • Research and knowledge transfer - strategy, project design and implementation

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.


  • PhD in professional learning. University of Nottingham. 1999
  • MEd Open Programme. Sheffield University. 1992
  • Post-graduate Certificate of Education. Kingston Polytechnic. 1987

Recent publications

  • Paterson, F. (2015 in press). Leadership and the Low Carbon Economy: in Accelerating the Shift to a Low Carbon Economy in the East Midlands. Lynch, N & Martinez-Covarrubias, J. London. Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Pearce, W. & Paterson F. (2015 in press). The influence of policy, public service and local politics on the shift to a Low Carbon Economy in the East Midlands: in Accelerating the Shift to a Low Carbon Economy in the East Midlands. Lynch, N, & Martinez-Covarrubias, J. London. Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Paterson, F & Delight, P (2015) A study into how senior leaders learn to lead from experience. Critical Perspectives in Business Management Journal. University of Derby.
  • Sutherland, S & Paterson, F (2012) Creating an online network for school leaders in England. in Making knowledge management work for your organization, (Ed) Hawley, T. London, Ark.
  • Creasy, J & Paterson, F (2005) Leading Coaching in Schools, Nottingham, NCSL.
  • Paterson, F & West-Burnham, J (2005) Developing Beginning Leadership in Southworth, G & Coles, M (Eds) Developing Leadership. Maidenhead. Open University Press.

Recent conferences

  • Paterson, F (2014) Accelerating the shift to a Low Carbon Economy:  What kind of local leadership do we need? Sustainable Innovation Conference. Copenhagen. November 2014.
  • Sutherland, S & Paterson, F (2011) Creating an online network for school leaders in England. Presented at KMUK Conference, London. June 2011.
  • Paterson, F & Ireson, G (2010) Taking a Local Solutions approach to a national challenge, BELMAS. Warwick. October 2010.

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.

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