Bring together a diverse group of eight experienced leaders and take them on a 9-month journey into the heart and soul of who they are. Give them space to tune into how they think, feel, act. Help them (re)discover how to be the leader they want to be.
That was my purpose in creating a new leadership programme that spoke to the need I’d seen in every leader I’ve ever coached — for more time and space to think, reflect and see the bigger picture.
The sum of my Royal Navy, business and coaching experience had brought me to an understanding of five important leadership principles:
Leaders are made, not born
This was one of the first things I was taught as a trainee Royal Navy officer back in the 80s. I didn’t wholly buy into it at the time, and over the years I’ve seen a few naturally gifted leaders in action — inspiring and engaging the people around them. But I’ve also seen ‘born leaders’ excel in situations that matched their talents, only to fall over when the context changed.
Leadership needs to be understood and practised
Like expertise in any other field — academia, business, sport, martial arts — if you were born with a talent for it, it’s easier. If you weren’t, or you think you weren’t, don’t give up. I’ve coached many ‘accidental leaders’ who thought they had no leadership aptitude, and then discovered within them a leadership capacity that actually could be explored and developed.
There are many forms of leadership and many kinds of leader
Just as there are many forms of intelligence. If they work — at the messy interface of business and relationships, the place where things get done — they’re valid.
Nothing stays the same. Everything is transient
Successful leaders understand this fundamental principle of nature. They also understand that the antidote to external change is inner stability — by which I mean a way of staying centered, grounded and poised. From here you can listen beyond what you first hear, and respond flexibly to the changing nature of all things.
If you’re not having an impact, you’re not leading
There are three qualities vital to any effective leader: awareness, openness, presence. These three qualities are the essence of impact. To develop your impact, you need to become more aware, more open and more present. This is about mind-body connection.
Why a 9-month leadership programme?
What does it give you that you couldn’t get from coaching, or from an executive retreat?It’s a good question.
The answer has to do with readiness and commitment.
Imagine for a moment that you want to learn judo. How far do you want to go? Is a yellow belt enough? Or blue? Or brown? Or any of the 10 levels of black?
Or in a competitive event, would you be aiming for bronze, silver or gold?
Any and all of these are valuable.
Your answer depends partly on how committed you are. If you go to a judo class once a week for 6 months, learn new techniques but don’t practise them in-between, you’ll develop more slowly than if you train 3-4 times a week for a year.
It also depends on your readiness. You may get stuck at orange belt, or purple, for a while and then realise you’re ready to go further.
Or you go straight for the programme that you know is going to accelerate your progress and intensify your development.
Readiness and commitment are a state of mind.
What do you get?
A unique blend of mindfulness and leadership, with the four pillars of my leaders’ model Mindful Command® threaded into a part-time 9-month continual learning journey.
Three 4-day facilitated residential retreats in early spring, summer and autumn, in the peace, beauty and serenity of the French Alps.
A failsafe process to get clear, right here, right now, and for the future, on what really matters.
A personalised learning experience, with monthly online group or individual coaching sessions, adapted to each leader’s business context.
The opportunity to tap into the wisdom and experience of a diverse team of world-class coach-mentors.
Does it work?
This programme is a carefully considered response to the universal need of all busy leaders. It was also a leap of faith. It’s the sum of everything I know and over the next 10 years it will become my legacy to leadership development.
The first programme has just completed. This is a snapshot of what participants said:
“It’s like finding your own inner compass, like hitting the ‘re-centre’ button on your Google maps.”
“I’ve got a different map to navigate how I think and make decisions.”
“I’ve always tried to stop things happening, protect and save etc. Now when something difficult happens I can flex and go ‘it’s going to be ok, it’s just life’. And I know what to do. It’s a game changer.”
“Mindful Command has it all. Simple, accessible tools that help slow the mind in order to perceive the true self / the larger truth. Like being above looking down and being able to choose how I react.”
Our second Evolving Leadership programme starting in March 2020 is going to be even better.
It’s for eight leaders ready to commit to the inner work that transforms how they lead.