Archives for posts with tag: Training

ImageI’ve spent the day deep in conversation with the Chief Executive of the Wilderness Foundation UK designing the course content for a leadership development programme we’re delivering later this year.

It was great to start with a blank sheet of paper – and a big pile of post it notes! – and brainstorm what we think would be the key areas for the leaders of tomorrow to focus on. As the programme is being delivered by the Wilderness Foundation, there is a heavy emphasis on nature based learning – using a variety of outdoor exercises to explore leadership skills and abilities. You might have seen in an earlier blog the fun I had hugging trees in an exercise on trust, teamwork and observation – it’s activities of that sort that we’ll be weaving into the programme.

After spending the day up to our armpits in post it notes and felt tip pens, we had an overall plan for the structure of the programme. We’d come up with some great thoughts for the detailed activities that will make up each day of the course.

Tomorrow we’ll be putting some meat on the bones of that structure, designing sessions and outlining activities. I can’t wait to use the opportunity to be creative, finding new and exciting ways to help the participants to discover the leadership potential within themselves.

Have you undertaken any leadership development training? What sorts of activities, tools, models or techniques really resonated with you? Are there any that you put into practice in your life and how effective have they been? Did any involve the great outdoors? I’d love to hear your experiences.


ImageIt’s been a training-heavy week for me this week! I love learning new things so it’s great to be able to participate in so many different programmes and courses. Today was day one of a training course about mentoring young people that I’m attending in preparation for some voluntary mentoring I’ll be undertaking later this year.

It was a really enjoyable, interactive day, with plenty of activities and group work so that I got the benefit of learning from other participants’ thoughts and experiences, not just from the taught content delivered by the trainer. It was great to meet a range of different people with a variety of skills and experiences, all there because of their desire to volunteer to help support young people from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds.

The element that I benefitted from most was the time we spent putting ourselves into the shoes of the young people, trying to understand how the world appears from their point of view. It was really interesting once we started to come to some realisations about the negative behaviours that adults perceive from young people, and how they could often be a reaction to the sorts of behaviours that they perceive from adults.

I think it’s true to say that young people in general tend to get a raw deal these days in terms of their reputation – newspapers etc. seem to start from the base assumption that they’re lazy, out to cause trouble and roaming the streets in gangs like pack animals, and any young people doing some good with their lives are positioned as the exception to the rule.

That’s a really unfair picture to paint and – even worse than that – the more that this view is propagated throughout media and society, the more that young people themselves will start to believe it. Perception, as they say, is reality. Before long, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and young people will start to think: everyone has this negative view of us… we may as well live up to it! Not helpful.

So today has reinforced for me just how important it is to not judge a book by its cover or to assume that we know what makes someone tick or why they behave or respond in a certain way. Instead, we should all find time to walk a mile in their shoes: think about the external influences on them and how we would react if they were applied to us. Maybe, just maybe, that will bring us some increased understanding of that person and help us to connect with them more effectively on an individual level, rather than making assumptions based on the group they fall into.

After all, it is never a pleasant feeling when we feel that we are being judged by others based solely on generalisations about our race, gender, sexuality, age, disability or any other aspect of our own personal book’s cover. So let’s don that individual’s proverbial shoes and get marching that metaphorical mile!

ImageToday I had the opportunity to watch my wife at work. She was delivering a training course on project management to employees of a national charity. As we run our business together, obviously we have worked together and participated in meetings together quite a lot, but this was the first time that I was in effect an observer to her in full flight, doing one of the many things that she does best.

I loved it! It was great to see her building relationships with the participants and taking them through some key points, approaches and techniques to help them to be able to more effectively manage the myriad projects they have responsibility for. Her knowledge, confidence and ability to think on her feet to adapt to issues as they arose, tailoring her approach to the context of the organisation were fantastic, and made me feel very proud.

After taking participants through an exercise to plan a fictional project to decorate a room (which included such crucial activities as sourcing tea, coffee and biscuits and having plenty of breaks!) in order to demonstrate the techniques to them, she led them through applying these techniques to their own work. This meant that by the end of the day, they had the bare bones of a project plan that they will actually use in their day jobs. Putting learning into practice right from day 1 – I believe that’s the most effective use of training. That way, it can immediately be directly applied to the day job so that benefits are seen straight away, making it far more likely that the new approach will swiftly become embedded in participants’ working lives.

She’s heading back to the organisation tomorrow for day 2 of the training course and this time I won’t be able to be there, which I’m really disappointed about. It was great to be able to step away today and just soak up the experience of watching someone (especially someone so important to me) do what they’re good at. I think that’s one of the main things I’ll take away from today (along with some brushing up on my project management skills, courtesy of my lovely wife!) – how helpful it is to step back every now and again and take on the role of spectator.

It’s so easy when you’re running your own business to feel too busy to not be proactively doing something, achieving something, ticking something off the to do list every moment of every day. But making time every now and again to sit back and learn something from observing someone else at work is definitely going on that precious to do list!