Leadership development and coaching are the stimulus, not the answer
Think about the way you have approached culture change, leadership development and strategic execution as an organisation historically. Did you get the results in the time you wanted and in the way you wanted? Or did you end up hiring external consultants or coaches to tell you how, or show you how to get your people to work better together?
Nothing wrong with that – except budget and effectiveness. It costs to keep on bringing in externals. And each time they leave they take some of the intelligence of the organisation, of the coaching interaction with them. And how effective has it truly been? Has the leader been able to lead in the new way, to take actions or has it actually been too hard to swim against the tide of culture and workload?
The way we do development in organisations has to change. Who is best placed to support leaders in how they work, in how they be better, in how they deliver the complexity of the organisational objectives. Other leaders in the business. They know what the pressures are like, they know the players, they know the market – and they are experiencing a similar intensity in their daily lives.
Perhaps not rocket science so far. What is different is how these leaders support each other. intention is not nearly enough. They had to be able to listen, coach, reflect and hold discussions in ways that fundamentally change the way they meet, create, innovate and collaborate.
Myself, and my team, work with leaders to meet effectively, in real time with the content they want to discuss. We don’t have a 5 point programme or principle of effective leadership. What we have is the meeting framework which is intuitive, fundamental, lasting and utterly translatable. By the end, we have phased ourself out of the room, leaving all the intelligence, structure and lasting connections behind. There’s also a viral meeting effect that radiates out into the business. They are called PODs.
PODs STRETCH ACROSS REGIONS, SILOS, DEPARMENTS
PODs are made up of 6 leaders, none of whom report to each other, are in competition for resources or attention and all share the same leadership intensity in the organisation. They are particularly effective across countries, departments, regions and disciplines.
IT’S SELF DIRECTED LEARNING
A core difference to regular programmes is you cannot be put into a POD, you can only choose to be there. Leaders are grown ups, they can choose their development path. And they are not all the same. Everything we do in the POD is geared towards the individual and group being able to do it for themselves once the POD facilitator has left. There are 6 meetings over 4 months, and at each meeting the facilitator is metaphorically moving their chair closer and closer to the door, so by the last meeting they have gone, leaving the meeting intact with no further external involvement required. The POD is now fully self supporting.
AND NOW THERE’S NO MORE COST
Once the POD is fully self supporting it requires no ongoing budget. And the participants of the POD naturally start to behave in POD like ways outside of it. Reports of their people experiencing different more effective meetings come back early on, all skills can be used individaully or together.
The cost of a POD for 6 people is roughly the same as coaching for one director for six months. Instead of privately talking to their coach, they are building trust and relationships and getting quality support from the group.
FEEDBACK FROM POD PARTICIPANTS
“Pods are safe places to exist to create the ideal group of like-minded people. People that you can feel that one day they might change the world, if not some lives. If you don’t talk to people you trust, you can feel completely alone at the top and struggling alone. It is liberating when you discover that is not the case (and I have learnt to really listen to people, not just hear them and that has been so important)”
“The help, honesty and support in the POD has really helped me go through a pretty unsettling time. ”
“The PODs have been like nothing else I’ve ever experienced in terms of L&D, whether at [Global Corp] or elsewhere. I’ve been extremely fortunate to be involved in some great training at XXX – most notably coach boss and the XXX course, both of which I got a lot from – especially in terms of network building and broader awareness of the XXX business as well as specific leadership ideas and approaches in how I work.
However, the PODS are a very different beast. First, the level of connection you make in a smaller group and over a longer period of time is quite extraordinary. The PODS have given me a huge advantage in terms of building a solid support network with colleagues from different parts of the business.
Second, in terms of skills, the fact that POD sessions are scheduled 4 weekly over a period of 6 months (or longer) really gives you an opportunity to hone your skills in an organic and continual way – and in that respect you actually remember and implement the skills you’ve learnt because of the time given to practice and refine them. Some of the tools, such as the checking in, coaching, goldfish bowl and general meeting rules of engagement will – I hope – stay with my throughout my career.
“What struck me is how common many of our issues were across regions – what I might think I was experiencing alone, was actually shared and felt by my peers all around our vast geography.
I think it was that moment when we realized we need to talk to each other more. I think at the beginning none of us expected this journey would be so thrilling, emotional and eye-opening…..”