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Intelligence in Action/Personal Leadership

I have just finished the most ambitious project for Computacenter (October 2019). They asked me to run a full Personal Leadership programme for their entire middle to senior to Exco management team (including the CEO!) plus a few rising stars. This came to 100 people and we split them into 4 groups of around 25 people each. Each group had a cross-section of both management levels and divisions in the organisation.

We started with the first module – two days with each group – focusing on the challenges of personal leadership. At the end of the two days each participant set themselves a goal with a buddy as t which skills they were going to practice in the inter-modular period (outer witness; STOP; deep listening; a daily 15 minutes of play; etc.). When they came back for the second module they had to publicly account for their progress. In this second module, we continued working on catching triggers and hinge moments and then ended by turning our focus to the organisation. What behaviours were they going to put into place from tomorrow to change the culture into that of a caring organisation? This month each of the groups has met wth me for a final Follow-Up day to report on changes in their personal and work lives.

It was a deeply moving experience and the overwhelming majority of participants had taken up the challenge in a variety of ways. Congratulations to all participants for their courage and to the courageous Exco who stepped into the unknown in initiating this programme.


The Generic Programme.

Few companies have geared themselves to face the challenges of the 21st Century. The dominant complicated paradigm is based on control through structures, processes and procedures and a continual focus on the numbers. This approach works well for repeatable simple problems where best practice can be established and repeated in all situations.

However, this approach does not have the ability to deal with complex situations where intelligent agility is required to act appropriately to the particular customer and situation and innovation and creativity are required to seek out new possibilities. The company seeks to break the silence in meetings where staff members play safe to avoid conflict and instead encourages them to bring their vitality and new ideas into a respectful and inquiring culture.

Normal teaching/leadership interventions focus on knowledge –driven processes where participants are brought up-to-speed with the necessary research and tools. The focus is on the rational as an attempt is made to impact on the participants’ thinking.

This interactive workshop takes a very different starting point. A change of thinking is not enough! In times of stress and pressure, that knowledge is not available and the staff member acts as they always have done. The challenge is to impact on the way that participants act in a situation so that they have the presence to interrupt their automatic reactions and instead make an appropriate choice of action based on an enlarged and more flexible set of possibilities. Teaching methods draw on other senses of knowing in the heart and the body as well as the mind.

The way into this change is through interactive work which has an emphasis on Personal Leadership through presence and awareness and the development of a deep listening wise outer witness.

The basic intervention consists of three days with a follow-up day three months later. The programme will vary according to the needs of the company and what turns up on the day: Skills are introduced and then practiced each day in deepening layers.

Day One: Orientation; Everything is a Choice; Presence; Outer Witness; STOP; Assumptions; Blind Spots; Appreciation.

Day Two: Embodied Leadership; Vulnerability; Gratitude; Complicated and Complex Paradigms; Working with Others.

Day Three: Choices in Life; Triggers; Hinge Moments; Two Paths – Response vs React; Wisdom Competence.

Follow-Up Day:  Only for those who have attended all days on the initial workshop programme. This session holds participants accountable for changes in their actions and refreshes previously introduced skills as well as addressing the next level of challenges that have arisen in the period since the initial intervention.

In order to maximize the impact of the workshop, all participants need to attend each and every session.

Chris Breen has had a phenomenal impact on my personal growth as a leader. The work that he facilitated with my team has helped them tap into their potential for greater personal and leadership authenticity. His adaptive style meant that the conversations in the room were always relevant and punchy enough to hit home and create a shift. I can see the change in many individuals across my team, as they are learning to better integrate their ability to manage themselves, influence others and grow the business. Thank you Chris.    Haroon Abrahams, Regional Executive: Customer Network, ABSA Bank.