Here I outline a fully customisable program, Leadership Practice for Unsettled Times, designed to help your managers and professionals practise leadership in the current difficult environment. The program represents a distillation of what I’ve learned in over 20 years of conducting leadership development programs and is designed to be delivered virtually or face-to-face, or in combination.

Leadership Practice for Unsettled Times

Chances are some of your managers and experienced professionals have been through numerous “leadership” programs.

Leadership in unsettled times - zoom meeting

Many such programs frame leadership as a role and are aimed at helping people take on higher positions in future. Today’s difficult times, though, call for something else. We need to think of, and develop, leadership as a practice that people can apply today in working through tough (thorny, sticky) challenges.

For many managers and professionals, chances are, if they’ve come from technical backgrounds, they’ll be reasonably good at management, at least the more technical aspects of it. They’ll know about, and have experience in, sorting operational problems and executing plans. But they won’t be so good at leadership. Undertaking leadership work requires development of mindset including recognising issues as complex and multifaceted and being aware of one’s own contribution – as well as skillset.

The good news is that leadership as a practice is learnable and doable – with some development, training and guidance.

This program is designed to meet that need.

Program Outline

Leadership Practice for Unsettled Times is designed for managers who need to bring about change and improvement in their work areas and beyond, as well as others who have a change-oriented role but don’t manage people directly.

The cohort size can be up to about 20, though with online programs, a smaller group – say, about 10 – provides greater scope for interaction and responding to the needs of individuals.

  • A fully customisable, highly experiential and interactive, virtual or face-to-face workshop-based program
  • Jointly configured with you to develop the capabilities that your managers and professionals need in enabling change with critical challenges your organisation faces
  • Flexible in its structure, so that you choose the content of workshops as well as how many you offer, their duration and frequency. You can also add other components including:
    • Individual coaching sessions
    • Action learning groups, with small groups working on identified strategic challenges
    • 360-degree feedback, conducted with partner organisation, Leaderskill Pty Ltd.

Learning Outcomes

While the precise learning outcomes will be shaped according to your priorities, the following are indicative. Participants will increase their abilities to:

  • Build a shared sense of purpose and vision with needed changes
  • Work from evidence and observation, rather than from untested assumptions
  • Recognise and explore different stakeholder perspectives
  • Demonstrate desired values in their own behaviour
  • Step into difficult situations rather than avoiding or smoothing over them
  • Bring out the best in people, individually and collectively
  • Foster a climate of psychological safety, so all feel able to contribute
  • Collaborate with others across organisational and other boundaries
  • Elicit energy and action for deep-reaching change at the local level
  • Develop leadership capabilities in others and foster broadly-based leadership action.

Leadership in unsettled times - practice makes progress

Virtual Workshops

Leadership in unsettled times - virtual workshops

Sessions typically have a focus on one or two topic areas as well as an opportunity to explore challenges shared by participants and leadership actions for working through those challenges. Participants gain experience in coaching one another as peers, whilst also learning about their own challenges.

Session length can be from 60 minutes to four hours (with breaks), depending on your preferences. Workshop frequency is commonly two-weekly or monthly.  A typical program might involve six to eight two-hour sessions over three to six months. (The workshops can also be conducted face-to-face, depending on organisational requirements and Covid-safety.)

Participants are usually asked to do a modest amount of prework, such as view a video or two and reflect on pre-set discussion questions.

The workshops are supported by online pages for the cohort, where prework and resources are shared, and participants can contribute their own thoughts and questions, as well as resources they come across.Each workshop session typically features (based on a 2-hour session length, including a short break):

  • A brief “check-in” including shared reflection on recent experience
  • Review of prework activity
  • Input and discussion on the content topics for the session, commonly including one or more scenarios
  • From concept to action – applying the concepts discussed to one or more challenges revealed by participants
  • Check-out, including brief sharing of participant take-aways and next steps.

Indicative Workshop Topic Areas

These topics are indicative only; they can be combined, or reframed, and others added:

Leadership as a practice

  1. Leadership for impact – purpose, vision, outcomes, establishing current realities
  2. Leadership as a different form of action to management
  3. Working from evidence and observation
  4. Developing your own leadership practice

Leadership comes from within

  1. Leadership and self-development
  2. Recognising - and stepping beyond - your own comfort zone
  3. Practising leadership mindfully
  4. Looking within - building awareness of your own assumptions, mindsets and biases.

Leadership in relationship with others

  1. Working with multiple perspectives
  2. Developing teams and individuals
  3. Building psychological safety
  4. Engaging others with confidence and authenticity


Leadership for deep-reaching change

  1. Understanding culture in the workplace
  2. Inquiring to get "underneath" issues and challenges
  3. Collaborating across organisational and other boundaries
  4. Enabling deep-reaching change and improvement

Optional Program Components

Coaching

One option is for participants to have a series of one-hour, virtual coaching sessions with me, Don Dunoon. The standard is three sessions though even a single consultation can prove most helpful. The purpose of the coaching sessions is to: enable participants to delve more deeply into their own challenges than is possible in a workshop environment; understand and frame the leadership work to be undertaken; think-through and prepare for specific interventions; and reflect on experience gained and opportunities for further action and development. Participants commonly say that the coaching sessions are among the most powerful components of my programs. 

Action Learning - strategic challenge groups

Small groups of participants are supported to inquire into organisational strategic challenges (as nominated by senior executives). Groups are assisted to “step up” and engage with the leadership work involved in these more complex, higher-level challenges – rather than relying on technical solutions and management-oriented responses. Importantly, the strategic challenge groups provide opportunities for program participants to try out and practise the tools and skills they learn from the workshop sessions and related activities. Another benefit this time for the organisation – is in offering a “bottom-up” perspective on key challenges to complement any work done on these by senior executives.

360-degree feedback

This is an opportunity for participants to receive structured, anonymous and confidential leadership-related feedback from peers, team members (where applicable) and one or two managers. The feedback is based on a well-established framework of leadership and management capabilities, developed by Leaderskill Pty Ltd.  Participants have an individual debriefing discussion with me to ensure that: they are correctly interpreting the feedback survey findings; they gain insights into what might be “behind” the ratings and comments; and they clarify their own thoughts and feelings about the feedback, as well as identify and commit to priority areas for development. These priority areas can then form an input to coaching conversations.

Benefits - especially from the workshop sessions

  • Participants learn how to tap more of their teams’ latent intelligence, and foster a willingness to try new things and take responsibility
  • Format of regular, relatively short virtual workshops supports ongoing application of leadership learning and reflection, as well as being minimally disruptive to ongoing work
  • Light yet powerful and consistent conceptual framing and toolkit enables transferability of learning to other issues/challenges
  • Focus on actual issues ensures relevance of program to participants, while maximising cross-pollination of expertise and experience
  • Participants gain confidence and skills to step into difficult solutions, frame them as complex and messy, not purely technical, and work with others to enable real change
  • Participants report enjoying the combination of topic-based input & discussion, exploration of challenges, and sharing of experience and approaches with others.

Benefits of leadership workshop sessions

To find out more contact me, Don Dunoon for an obligation-free chat.


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