Welcome to our ‘Shortcuts to Inspiration’ series where we share bite size nuggets of inspiration from Connect.
We recently completed Connect, our (eighth) annual six-month leadership experience for 90 people including senior leaders from engineering, media, financial services, housing, energy and retail. These are leaders on their way up, average age early to mid forties, bright, ambitious, keen to learn.
“Organisations are non-entities, people are organisations”.
Dr Aravind Srinivasan, Aravind Eye Care System
However much we like to imagine we’re in control of Connect, we know what happens in the room (garden, tent, field, amphitheatre) and what plays out in each of our minds as we walk away cannot be planned.
Here’s a glimpse into the wonderful couple of days we had down on the farm at Sheepdrove for our last event of Connect 2017, Reconnect. It sure was HOT HOT HOT but what a beautiful setting! Some great photos of our fantastic Connect 2017 members along with our fabulous speakers.
“I didn’t make things worse.”
This is how Sir Martin Narey described his time as Director General of the Prison Service of England and Wales during one of our Leadership Masterclasses. Not what one ordinarily hears from a leader but then Sir Martin is no ordinary leader. He’s an inspiring individual and an accomplished storyteller, and the core narrative he uses to describe this chapter of his leadership story – the last-choice-for-the-job, unheroic, lonely leader failing to make the difference he so passionately aspires to – is compelling but it’s also a fiction. A fiction in the way that all stories purporting to be about reality are fiction. Because creating coherence from the raw mess of lived life involves choosing what to include, what to exclude and what framing will best martial the chaos.
Stepping into other organisations is a powerful way to sharpen focus on your own culture, organisational effectiveness and leadership. Not because the organisations visited on Best In Class are perfect but because they help illuminate what’s strong, precious and worth building on in your own organisation alongside those flaws, deficits and areas of underperformance that must be addressed. Moreover, the visits provide invaluable inspiration and ideas for how to tackle them.
So what of this year’s cohort of BIC organisations?
As I pulled in to Sheepdrove this week, I was instantly reminded of my time as a Connect member in 2014. The sense of excitement, anxiety and the re-emergence of that pesky imposter syndrome were instantly with me. It also recalled the friendships and connections that I had made at my On Your Marks and indeed the personal transition I have been through since; from Connect member to being part of the Wavelength team.
After two discussion-filled days on Leading Change at Sheepdrove we reflect on where leaders choose to begin in the face of big, difficult or complex change and what these start points tell us about the longer journey
“Get the start right, the right point of entry, that’s how you get a conversation going, that’s how you walk toward people.”
Rob Burnet, CEO & Founder, Well Told Story
“If OK is the outcome of what you’re doing, scrap what you’re doing.”
Imagine that 24 senior leaders, your peers, were coming to where you work to understand what you do and how you do it. What would you tell them? How would you bring the essence of your organisation to life? What would you share (and not share!) to ensure they left feeling inspired to improve?
At our recent Connect event, former Director of Performance at UK Sport, Peter Keen CBE, ran an in-depth workshop with a small number of members exploring Putting Purpose to Work, Creating Leadership Excellence. The session received outstanding feedback from the lucky few who got to be part of it and we asked Graham Hodgkin, CEO, London’s Air Ambulance for his reflections on this session for those of us who missed out.
Behavioural Economics is about “changing behaviour without changing minds”. It is about nudging individuals, groups or institutions toward desired actions without going down the well-worn knowledge = awareness = change route. For leaders it is useful not just to identify ways to shift behaviour but also to understand why, often despite best efforts, behaviours sometimes refuse to budge.
In September 2015 we returned to Sheepdrove with the Connect members to spend two days immersed back in the countryside. With speakers from as far afield as Nairobi, Denmark and India we asked: how does change happen? Our speakers shared stories of changing behaviour, creating new business models, and inventing new products and services.
In a week where the departing Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised the government for failing on its ”rehabilitation revolution” promise, we look at the role employment and employers can play in cutting reoffending and curbing the growth of the UK’s prison population, and at the benefits this can bring to us all.
This June, our Connect 2015 members met at MC Motors in Dalston, London to explore further what it means to be a Best in Class organisation. With speakers from Emirates, Four Seasons, Pret a Manger, Livity, and Pets at Home and an expert in creating the most productive working environment, it was a hot but insightful day.
In 2011, 63% of all 6-9 year olds in USA had access to a smart phone. In order to thrive, LEGO needed to find a way to take advantage of this technology. David Gram, Business Development Manager, LEGO talks with pride about how they did this at Reconnect 1 2012.
Why is it in this world that there are always people wanting to see you fail? Successful business woman and accomplished speaker Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre talks here about two aspects to draw upon to overcome this external negativity.
It’s easy not to fail. Just keep your head down, take the easy path and hey presto, you will probably get along just fine. So, why doesn’t that sound appealing? At Connect, one of the most powerful messages we received was about being aware of the ripples from our actions. Taking this analogy a little further, to create a ripple you must first have the courage to throw the stone. Letting go of the stone means that you have to be prepared to fail. My experience is that the fear of failure is the greatest barrier to success in any aspect of life.
Three days with 120 people on an organic farm in Berkshire.
Three packed days hearing from: British, American and Danish serial entrepreneurs; an eye surgeon from India; a Baroness who earned her title through service to sport; UK MD of a global furniture retailer whose most popular product is named Billy; evangelists from an airline that’s been profitable for a straight 43 years and from a luxury hotel chain with “Ladies and Gentlemen” not employees; the Co-Founder of the first funky business magazine, Fast Company, and former talent champion of the number one business oriented social networking site LinkedIn; and from the sustainability and partnership lead in a company innovating to reduce cows’ flatulence (among other planet-positive things).
What is Resilience and how can we improve it? A summary of Wavelength’s Reconnect 3 event from Diana Man
Reconnect 3, the final event for the Wavelength Connect 2014 Members. And what an event it was! The theme of the day was Resilience. As the Members get ready to fly the Connect Nest and head out into the big wide world putting everything they have learned into practise, they will certainly need it!
We all like to be popular but here Sir Martin Narey, Government Advisor and former CEO of Barnardos, delivers some possibly unwelcome home truths about mixing popularity with strong leadership.
Mark Allan from RSA and Grahame Price from St Paul’s Way Trust School talk about instigating culture change from the top down
In this video on culture change we hear from two leaders working in two very different areas. They explain to us what culture change means to them, share with us some of the mistakes they have made in trying to bring it about and then give us advice from their personal experiences.
Young people have very little leadership or life experience but they are the experts in what ZYNGA, a technology company, are trying to do. Colleen McCreary, Chief People Officer, ZYNGA says the key to success with a young workforce is to trust them to make the right decisions in their areas of expertise.
Varun Sahni, Managing Partner at Investment Impact Partners, talks about the failures in our criminal justice system at Wavelength Connect, On Your Marks 2014
Varun Sahni, Managing Partner, Impact Investment Partners and his colleagues believe that one of the greatest failures of our society is the criminal justice system. They are using the concept of information to help inmates become more integrated with society both while serving their time and upon release.