2019 was a most challenging and exciting year for me as I took on work for two very different ambitious companies – Computacenter and Dundee Precious Metals (Tsumeb, Namibia).
Computacenter 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 – total of around 100 people. We split participation 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 to 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?
Dundee Precious Metals (Tsumeb) tackled it slightly differently. They started off with the full Personal Leadership Programme (2 x 2 day workshops) just for their Executive team. Once this was completed I started running a similar programme for the next cross-sectional level of senior leadership. I meet this group for their second 2 day workshop in February 2020.
I was struck by the courage of all those involved to take the challenging programme seriously and commit to full attendance and the practising of learned skills in order to develop muscle memory for interactions – especially when u8nder pressure. They have all reported that the fact that everyone has a shared experience plus language of description has been an enormous help. They are also finding that conversations have become more courageous because of the strong relationships that were developed in the fire of the experiences.
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.
Hi Chris, I just wanted to thank you for all your time and effort you put into these sessions. You continually engaged along the journey for input and comments on how things were progressing, adjusting where you felt required or with input and it was an absolute pleasure working with you on this journey. I can only say what you do is all about how receptive people are to change and willingness to try and if they have been impacted by your coaching, as I was all those years ago, we as a business, have already and will definitely continue to benefit from this journey. THANK YOU for taking up the challenge.. Gayle Atkinson, Operations Director, Global Managed Services, Computacenter 2019.
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 2018.