A virtual workshop that redefines the nature of leadership
A newly appointed CEO of a global management firm needed a change in the leadership culture. If the company was to continue to succeed in a market where constant innovation and speed of execution had become critical success factors the traditional command-and-control style of leadership was no longer appropriate; instead leaders needed to develop a style based on building relationships, trust, empowerment, engagement and the encouragement of autonomy and discretionary effort.
It was difficult to find time in busy managers calendars for additional training. Virtual training had been tried before but had not resulted in the quality of learning experience that would justify taking up senior peoples time and energy.
Long standing habits, justified by the need to "protect the bottom line" and the pressure of meeting projected revenue, had interfered with sustaining a collaborative leadership style and little progress had been made in creating a vibrant and inspired workplace
Illustra designed and delivered a four-hour live virtual workshop focused on leaders developing an influencing style of leadership. The workshop itself was designed to exemplify its core principles. Rather than lecturing and teaching a more effective leadership style, the workshop provided context for provocative questions and the redefinition of influencing not as a skill to persuade and win people over to one's own point of view, rather a heartfelt gift embedded in the desire to support the success of the other.
Using a case study and role-play, participants were presented with a situation that would tempt them into directly advocating or directing the other person to adopt a specific change of behavior or point or view. Practice, debrief, coaching and feedback centered on maintaining a listening posture, the use of psychological principles for influencing such as contrast and reciprocation as documented by Cialdini, developing a giving style to enhance productivity as researched by Adam Grant, mining the ladder of interpretation described by Argyris and following an eight step influencing flow specifically designed for the workshop.
A palpable enthusiasm for practicing the influencing redefinition in their day-to-day work was transferred into specific action steps that participants committed to at the end of the workshop. Focus shifted from analyzing and quantifying results to an increased awareness of the impact that the leader was having on emotional engagement, the excitement of coming to work to make a difference and a sense of pride in identifying with the company.
Feedback from participants several months after the workshop showed that practical results had been achieved from letting the teams come up with yearly targets more stringent and courageous than the manager would have determined. Furthermore, results from the annual workforce survey showed that the training had impacted on the leadership style of many of the leaders in ways that were clearly recognized and appreciated by the members of their teams.
What participants say:
“The Influencing workshop caused me to completely revise my style of leadership. I have changed the way that I lead from a military style that says we are going to take the hill and there are likely to be casualties along the way, to a style that asks what is it that we need to do to be successful? And how can I help you? . I am fifty and I was quite set in my ways with the old style of leadership, so for me this has been a big change.”
“The material and the way that it was presented in this class made me sit down and think about what I had learnt and how I could apply it. I have to tell you I have been to a gazillion training classes and I don’t think I ever did that in the same way for any of the other ones in fact I know I didn’t”
“Great virtual learning process! I learned a lot from the session, also learned a lot from my peers during group discussions. It is indeed great workshop, hope it can be implemented across the company”
“I found this session to be particularly useful. I loved the role-play exercise and the practical and immediately actionable advice. I look forward to trying some of the concepts learned in this class.”
“Its clear that the influencing behaviors that work best can be learned and I liked the examples of what successful influencing looks like”
“I love the virtual environment that allows global attendance. It points out that we all have similar challenges, but perhaps different ideas about how to approach them”
“This course was excellent and very practical in dealing with both business and personal challenges. It is a course in which the material should be viewed regularly.”
“Terrific course. I would not change a thing.“