collective voice

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Are you a boss, or are you a leader?

April 19, 2017 13:43

The distinction isn’t always clear – surely if you’re a boss, you’re also a leader by default? I have a great working relationship with my teams at ICE. They know me very well and frequently tease me by saying ‘Okay, boss. What are we doing?’, knowing that this term makes me cringe. To me, the term ‘boss’ is synonymous with a blame and shame culture. It’s an archaic term that has no place in today’s modern and transparent organisations.

Instead, I take pride in being able to call myself a leader. As a leader, I’m aware of my own limitations and I create energy by nurturing and developing the people I work alongside. Being a leader is about creating a climate of mutual accountability, shared vision and like-minded values.

After much reflection, the Natural Leaders experience was designed to help unlock leadership potential and to create teams that are thriving, not just surviving. We’ve even recruited man’s best friend to help!

“It was a really interesting way of looking at leadership and working with people and looking at it from a completely different perspective.” – Dr Rachel Preston, GP, Cumbria CCG

Consider this scenario: someone approaches you and asks what your organisation’s purpose is. They probe further – “what is your organisation’s ‘why’?” Do you intrinsically have your answer ready? Would all members of your team be able to answer without hesitation? A boss would be confident in their ability to answer, and would reprimand any individuals who they deemed to ‘fail’ this role-play. A leader makes it their mission to support all individuals, exploring what’s important and co-creating, resulting in engaged teams with confidence in their individual and collective autonomy.

And that’s the difference. A leader becomes immersed in their teams, never turning their nose up at a challenge, regardless of how mundane it may seem. In contrast, a boss stays at arm’s length, never dirtying their own hands or opening themselves up to a critical friend.

On the field with our working sheepdogs and sheep, you will be transported to a safe learning environment. Free from existing social hierarchies, you and your team will be free to explore, engage and connect – the results will amaze you.

“I know that the majority of our 12-strong team had mixed ideas in terms of what lay ahead as the day began; never in their wildest imagination did they envisage how interesting, challenging and thought provoking it would be.” – Hilda Yarker, Communications Consultant, Your Housing Group

How often do you truly connect with your teams? You might have a handle on what they’re working on, but does this go both ways? Top-down management can lead to organisational disconnect and fractured teams. As people struggle to identify their role in an organisation, paternalistic behaviour further reduces ownership of your vision and your ‘why’.

At Natural Leaders, we explore the symbiotic relationships between the leader (the shepherd) and our teams (dogs and sheep). To successfully shepherd, you don’t have to be a natural with animals! Much like the workplace, success lies in adapting to different personalities, building rapport and playing close attention to our communication and commands. I do mean verbal commands to some extent, but you’d be really surprised by how much of a difference our body language, facial expressions and tone of voice make on the road to successful leadership.

“It gives you a different perspective on how others lead and actually makes you reflect on how you lead yourself.” – Fiona Stobart, Chief Executive, Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland

To instil positive change in your organisation, a change of environment is essential. Natural Leaders provides this; you will be exposed to a whole new set of behaviours and will be given the time and space to discover how this can be brought back to your day-to-day working environments. Using our framework of strengths-based investigation, you will build new insights and strategies that will propel your organisation towards your desired future state.

“Months later, I still find myself replying in my mind what happened in the Natural Leaders experience in order to help me change my behaviour and generate a different more powerful outcome.” -  Fiona Harris, Senior Public Health Consultant Hampshire

If you’d like to explore your future as a leader and cement your organisation’s ‘why’, purpose and vision, Natural Leaders is the perfect space for you. Come and practice your team learning at an accelerated pace, strengthening and refining your leadership attributes throughout the day. Let your teams know that you’re a leader, not a boss.

If you would like to experience Natural Leaders or would like to share some thoughts with me, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at stuart@icecreates.com

Revealing our true emotional selves – leadership lessons learnt from a day on the fellside

January 23, 2017 15:37

What can the limbic emotional systems of working sheepdogs and sheep teach you about yourself, about those you work with, and the impact you have on each other?

Natural Leaders is a leadership development experience like no other. With traditional team development, teams put their best foot forward for fear of showing their vulnerabilities. This veneer of bravery limits learning and is potentially damaging to your organisation.

The supportive and safe learning environment of Natural Leaders was created to go beyond traditional team building – providing a vivid experience for leadership exploration on an individual level, as well as within teams.

 “It’s in the most fantastic setting, a really, really interesting day. You’re there in front of a bunch of peers with you, a dog and some sheep and you’re expected to make things happen – and wow, it happens.” - Julian Parsons, Head of Service Delivery, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire & Rescue Service

Using the latest behavioural science, you will unpack your unique leadership attributes and come away with new strategies, skills, behaviours and models for effectively handling situational leadership like change, strategy development and challenge.

“It gives you a different perspective on how others lead and actually makes you reflect on how you lead yourself” – Fiona Stobart, Chief Executive, Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland

You may be surprised to learn that sheepdogs and sheep use their limbic emotional systems to react, build communities, function effectively and instil leaders and followers.

Despite their capabilities, sheepdogs are not inherent leaders. Instead, they are naturally bred to want to serve and to be a co-worker. Like your best manager and leaders, they know one truth and that is to work for their shepherd.

“It was a really interesting way of looking at leadership and working with people and looking at it from a completely different perspective.” – Dr Rachel Preston, GP, Cumbria CCG

Are you the shepherd or the sheepdog of your group? In many ways, both act as leaders in a symbiotic way. The trust relationship is very powerful and built on love and relationship, knowing how each other will react at any given moment.

"The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." – Ralph Nader

Our limbic emotional systems read body language immediately. With just 20% of communication being verbal and non-verbal making up the other 80%, we cannot afford to underestimate the importance of body language and emotional management.

The unbiased feedback from our working sheepdogs and sheep will enlighten you beyond your imagination. Once you are in the field, job titles, responsibilities and hierarchies become irrelevant. Our animal teams respond to your commands; they read body language and leadership in a pure and telling non-judgemental manner, giving infinite opportunity to improve how we work for ourselves, with others, and for others.

During this immersive experience, you will enjoy a team breakfast and a home-cooked lunch, with refreshments available throughout.

This is your space away from the distractions of everyday life; you and your team will be made to feel at home in our beautiful 1790s converted barn, equipped with a modern learning centre to maximise your experience and outcomes.

Reflection is encouraged throughout your experience. You’ll be amazed as you begin to notice behaviours in the field that reflect experiences in your daily working life.

“I know that the majority of our 12-strong team had mixed ideas in terms of what lay ahead as the day began; never in their wildest imagination did they envisage how interesting, challenging and thought provoking it would be.” – Hilda Yarker, Communications Consultant, Your Housing Group

We learn and grow and our creativity is most encouraged when we are in new environments and situations. To achieve our true potential as leaders, we must test ourselves and stretch ourselves. It’s amazing what happens when we use the natural rhythms and forces of nature to learn, grow and succeed.

This is what a team shared with ITV Boarder News when they visited Natural Leaders.

To find out more about the Natural Leaders experience, get in touch with Stuart Jackson on 0151 647 4700 or at stuart.jackson@icecreates.com