What we do
We work with organisations to increase performance and deliver on their strategy. We do this by developing uncommon leaders who deliver uncommon results.
We do this through developing and delivering programmes of interventions which address an appropriate combination of individual performance, team performance and organisational culture. Each programme is unique to that organisation, and is designed to enable it to deliver its strategy and vision.
Self-awareness is crucial for leadership, but many leadership development programmes stop here. This is not enough; self-awareness gives us new choices, but it doesn’t deal with the fact that in many areas of our self we have been practicing doing things the same way for 30, 40, 50 or 60 years. Breaking these patterns requires going beyond the psychometric tests, which give us horoscope-like descriptions of our personality – they are very interesting, but how useful are they really?
We have met many people who have gained a lot of self-awareness. They know that they do things in a way which doesn’t work for them, or the people around them, they can tell us why they do it, and can describe it using some of the models of popular psychology. The thing they can’t do however, is do something different.
If you want leaders to really deliver uncommon results, they must be able to have self-awareness AND they need to be able to do something different to generate these results, especially when under pressure. We must go beyond self-awareness to what we call self-cultivation. Self-cultivation is where we work to develop the capabilities to bypass our habitual patterns and be able to deliver different results.
However self-cultivation is tougher work to do, so in order to do it, each leader must connect to some sense of purpose. That purpose is what they are committed to as a leader – what is it that they are seeking to do, build, create, or change as a result of their leadership? This is what others will follow in a leader.
Our starting point is to build a clear sense of what your individuals or teams are committed to in their leadership. We then work to build their self-awareness, but also to challenge the individuals and teams to change and to cultivate themselves to be able to deliver on their commitments.
A lucky year?
We start with asking individuals or teams, what would be a lucky year. We’re asking participants to address what results they would achieve if they were lucky. We’re not asking for an unrealistic target, but one that would require luck, and which they don’t know how to create. To give an example, 100% market share would be unrealistic target if that would require 3 other major companies to lose all their business. However if a team grew their results 10% last year, and can see how they can do the same this year, a lucky year would be 15-20%. This is the starting point for a leadership development journey.
We ask participants to form a commitment through this process – what will they be committed to achieving through their leadership, which is connected to your organisation’s strategy and vision. This will also be connected to their sense of purpose as a leader. Working on the programme, participants will therefore be working on creating this different level of results – time in the programme becomes time spent working on delivering results, rather than time out of the office on a ‘training course’.
This process ideally takes place over about one year to develop their leadership and their results.
Working with individuals
We can work with either individuals or teams in this process.
Working with individuals we ask each participant to address their individual sense of purpose and from this their commitment for their leadership. The programme can take the form of training, coaching, projects which forward their commitments, skills workshops, visits to other organisations, expeditions and outdoor activities, and facilitated conversations in teams or wider groups of the organisation. This can be combined with reading, assignments and e-learning, when appropriate.
Working with teams
With teams we go through the same process, but also working with a commitment for the outcomes of the team’s leadership. This reflects the results the team will achieve, and the individual commitments reflect each person’s contribution.
Working with teams can involve all of the elements above, but will include a focus on working with the team together, process facilitation of meetings, developing their capability to resolve conflict, and improving their ability to coordinate effectively together.
A point about how we engage with your organisation…
The basic unit in which work is delivered in most organisations today is the team. You probably want greater collaboration from your leaders in how they work. However most leadership development programmes involve taking people out of their teams and working with them in an individualistic way. We believe that if you want higher performance from your teams, then develop them as a team. We can work with your team to develop a rigorous culture of fulfilling commitments, coordinating effectively and increasing performance. This builds greater trust and collaboration.
Working with organisations
Whilst organisations are made up of individuals, an organisational culture of high-performance makes a significant difference to the results of teams and individuals. In addition to working with teams and individuals, addressing the culture of the organisation can be vital.
If we take you and put you into a team or organisation which is low trust and has a culture which tolerates mediocrity, and then take you and put you in an organisation which is high trust and has a culture of excellence, you will notice the difference. Interestingly, most people will also have their performance impacted by this change, and will increase their performance dramatically in the second scenario. What impact does your organisational culture have on your performance?
Organisational culture can be addressed through a series of interventions, which can include work with the individuals and teams, as well as interventions such as Barry Oshry’s Organisation Workshop, large group interventions such as Open Space and Future Search, inquiries such as Appreciative Inquiry and Action Research, and processes such as the U-process.
We are able to use a range of such interventions to assist in developing the organisational culture, and the performance and results of individuals in the organisation.
Occasionally organisations ask us if we would be willing to accept shared risk in relation to the programme, i.e. payment based upon increase in results. We are open to this conversation, and are happy to come to an agreeable arrangement.
A health warning
When going through development programmes of this nature some people will reflect on their life and choose to change careers. In such a development process some individuals will go through a similar life transition – the process will involve consciously reflecting on purpose and a deep process of personal development. This means that some individuals will decide to leave the organisation to follow their passions. We believe that this is best both for the individual and the organisation – the individual will probably be happier, and it allows the organisation to recruit someone who will be more passionate about their work.
Additionally, some individuals will, in such a development process, uncover deeper issues which they will need to address, some of which can be addressed inside the programme and some of which may require longer-term deeper personal work. This means that their performance may actually worsen before it improves. This is not a failure for this individual, as these issues would need to be addressed before their performance could significantly improve.
For both of these reasons, we therefore believe it is ineffective and unethical to measure performance improvement at the individual level for each person. It is important to agree and set measures across a cohort of individuals or teams going through the programme, and to measure at this level. We are confident of a consistent and significant increase in results when measured across such a group.