The Deloitte Global Trends Report has cited “For the third year in a row, leadership has soared to become one of the most pressing talent challenges faced by global organisations. Companies are struggling to develop leaders at all levels and are investing in new and accelerated leadership models.” That last part may well be the case, but I also see so many HR professionals staying within the more traditional confines of leadership development training. So if you’ve been playing it safe up until now, trust me when I say, you are definitely missing out.
The thing is, I’m interested in the more radical stuff. It’s because I’ve seen and experienced the results for myself. Playing safe can be good and produce results over time, but radical ideas and ways of working (which are often grounded in very old, wise and simple concepts) may seem risky at first, but these are the ones you’ll come away thinking, ‘wow’.
In order to achieve real breakthrough, I truly feel that we have to get as far away from the office environment as possible. I’ve just spent 24hrs in the Alps to test this theory out for myself, with an inspiring man called Jack Hubbard (see link for Jack, below). I’m not saying this to show off, I’m just saying it works.
I wanted to do some serious problem solving and knew that Jack’s philosophy on movement and environment was the same as mine. So he told me to book a flight to Geneva and without hesitation, I did. Our plan was to spend the day together ideating on the mountains.
A week later I arrived at Jack’s village, not far from Avoriaz in the French Alps, a place where he and his young family have moved to, simply because it was their dream, so they made it happen. And as Jack and I began to drop our guard of not really knowing each other and skied our way across the slopes in thick fog, we laughed at how the foggy conditions were not only coaxing us to think and act differently, way out of our comfort zone, but the fog also acted as a metaphor for my struggles. The lack of clarity he was now experiencing was in some way symbolic of what I’d also been experiencing. The mountains were showing Jack empathy for my situation and we both felt open to the possibility that they would also guide us to the way forward.
When we’re with our colleagues, but away from the office environment, we experience a different energy. Given the right conditions, we begin to peel back the layers (or should we call it armour), which so many of us put up, perhaps because we feel we should, or perhaps because we are so out of our depth that it’s the only way to mask our fear and uncertainty. I met a man recently who was shrouded in armour and unwilling to even contemplate the idea of opening up in the workplace. So to coax him along, I told him my own story. On listening, something profound changed in him and within minutes he’d said something to me that I will never forget. “But how do I get off??”, ‘off’ meaning the elevator that so many people feel they’re on when it comes to career and money. Work, pay the bills, retire and enjoy life if you’re lucky enough to make it that far.
There’s a lot of talk about this at the moment. If we step off the elevator, we fear what will become of us and how will we survive, particularly with a family to support and mortgages to pay. I know, I have been there myself with this fear. Finding a way or method that reveals the true person and encourages us to work from a more authentic space is when the real self-development happens. And when we begin to know ourselves better, it also makes us more resilient. So much of the pain being experienced in the workplace right now comes from people just not being real. There’s a lack of connection, we’ve become robotic and we lack empathy for each other. We don’t really ‘see’ each other, yet we are desperate to be seen and to be heard. But is anyone really listening? Not really, not that much, because they are too busy thinking they’ve not been heard themselves. Even just writing that feels exhausting. It’s a merry-go-round.
But what if there was a way to very quickly get people into the heart/mind/body connection? A connection with ourselves, with each other and with our environment?
On Friday, I found it. And it was amazing and a deep experience that will remain for me for a very long time. It was the day I spent with Jude Jennison and her business partner Emma Taylor. Oh, and 3 incredible horses.
You can read about it here.
Resources and further reading:
Rowan Gray – link to follow shortly on movement and organisational success
Jack Hubbard www.dreamvalleyprojects.co.uk
Colin D Smith (The Listener) Tips for Listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzvnFs3qwLg
Take a look at our workshop on movement and learn how to do more with your lunch break.
By Justine Clement