Why and how you matter: learning development as everyday leadership


  • Maria Kukhareva University of Bedfordshire
  • Carina Buckley Solent University




leadership, tertiary, everyday leadership, citizenship, values-based, ALDinHE


For the learning developers, operating within the third space in higher education (between academic-faculty positions, and professional/learning services and administration) brings its rewards through supporting students and staff to succeed. However, well-documented challenges, such as uncertainty around own professional identity; own place in the institutional culture and infrastructure; entitlement to CPD; and career progression trajectory (Silvey, Pejcinovic and Snowball, 2018; Obexer, 2020; Clark, 2021). Learning Developers who often are employed as both academics and professional services may find themselves grappling with finding ways to capture and evidence impact of their activity on their students’ academic and broader experience and proving their worth to their institution and the sector on the whole (Riggio, 2020). Our institutions may feel like worlds of academic standards and managerial constraints, neither of which helps reinforce the feeling of empowerment and belonging among learning developers.

Everyday leadership, as a position and behaviour of choice, can help navigate these challenges, at individual, institutional and LD community levels. Everyday leadership has links with a stronger sense of empowerment, self-fulfilment and belonging – to the collective LD community, and to the institution (Drury, Evripidou, and Van Zomeren, 2015). Everyday leadership implies influence, and therefore, impact. In this session, we applied our thinking from Cashman (2017) and Whitelaw (2020) and define leadership as extending your energy into “things that matter” (Whitelaw, 2020. NP), to create value for others. Everyday leaders are all individuals, notwithstanding of their status, who “influence others to achieve shared objectives for the good of the collective” (Riggio, 2020, NP). Our participants also explored, and reframed their activity from the angle of everyday leadership – such as influencing peers and students, mentoring peers, initiating or leading a project, speaking up, acting as an active bystander. Finally we referred to broad themes from the ALDinHE Leadership Community of Practice. Participants shared practice and came up with a range of everyday leadership ‘expressions’ which are meaningful to them, within the context of their value and purpose; empowerment and belonging; influence and impact. Participants were encouraged to commit to one new everyday leadership action/ behaviour.

Author Biographies

Maria Kukhareva, University of Bedfordshire

Dr Maria Kukhareva is a resilience expert, author, mentor and coach - but always a learning developer at heart! With over twenty years in the UK Higher Education sector, Maria has enjoyed a variety of academic, professional and research roles. 

Maria’s cross-disciplinary collaborations have inspired her current interest in new models of leadership, emerging from a space where leadership theory and practice meet neuroscience, anthropology, ecology and Eastern philosophy – among others.

Previously a learning developer, Maria currently focuses on staff development in her role as Head of People Development at the University of Bedfordshire. Maria is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE Academy and Aurora Advisory Group member; she is also a Women-Space associate. Maria also chairs the SDF Special Interest group, Emerging Leadership models.

Carina Buckley, Solent University

Dr Carina Buckley is the Instructional Design Manager at Solent University, UK. She is an Advance HE Principal Fellow and a researcher in the field of Learning Development.

Carina is also Co-host of the Learning Development Project podcast and the Treasurer for the Association for Learning and Development in Higher Education. She is the co-editor of the book: How to Be a Learning Developer in Higher Education. Critical Perspectives, Community and Practice.


Cashman, K. (2017) Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader For Life, 3nd Edition, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Clark, D. (2021) Third space professionals and the challenge of CPD. Advance HE [Online], 12 May 2021. Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/third-space-professionals-and-challenge-cpd Accessed on: 1 January 2023.

Drury, J., Evripidou, A., & van Zomeren, M. (2015). Empowerment: The intersection of identity and power in collective action. In D. Sindic, M. Barreto, & R. Costa-Lopes (Eds.), Power and identity (pp. 94–116). Psychology Press.

Obexer, R. (2022). “Lost in third space: Identity work of a “blended professional” in higher education”. Studies in Technology Enhanced Learning, 2(3).

Riggio, R.E. (2020) What Is Everyday Leadership and Why Does It Matter? How each and every one of us can lead in our jobs and communities. Psychology Today[Online] September 5, 2020. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/202009/what-is-everyday-leadership-and-why-does-it-matter Accessed on: 1 September 2022.

Silvey, V., Pejcinovic, L., Snowball, T. (2018). Crossing Divides: Professional Development for Third Space Professionals. In: Bossu, C., Brown, N. (eds) Professional and Support Staff in Higher Education. University Development and Administration. Springer.

Whitelaw, G. (2020) The Zen Of Leadership – And How It Can Save You In These Wild Times. Forbes [Online], Oct 2, 2020. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ginnywhitelaw/2020/10/02/the-zen-of-leadership–and-how-it-can-save-you-in-these-wild-times/?sh=a68e3ed711e9 Accessed on: 1 January 2023.




How to Cite

Kukhareva, M. and Buckley, C. (2023) “Why and how you matter: learning development as everyday leadership”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1079.

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