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Coming to appreciate
the power of connection

by Pete Ashby, April 2024

For most of my working life, I have been fascinated by "new ideas".  Working in the TUC in my '20s I became gripped by the scandal of mass unemployment, not least because my Dad was one of those who lost his job and never properly recovered.

 

I worked up various ideas for reforming government policies around employment and training that I went on to promote through two think tanks that I set up and led: Action for the Long-term Unemployed and then Full Employment UK.

A life-changing moment came in the late ’80s when I was appointed as a Fellow of St George’s House, just by St George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle, to lead a series of Consultations on the future of citizenship, income and work.

 

St George’s House became my spiritual home for more than 30 years., during which time I facilitated more than 200 overnight events in the Castle.

 

I learnt a huge amount from the incredible leaders I was lucky enough to work with, especially about trust-building - and the power of connection.

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Ideas-building in Windsor Castle

Throughout the '90s I worked with a range of UK Government Departments in testing out policy ideas across employment and social policies.  

 

Then we all experienced the awfulness of 9/11, and along with so many others I wanted to do SOMETHING positive.  I thought here I am working in Windsor Castle ... what a great venue to set up an international series of events about what the new world order should look like!

 

So that was my passion for the next four years, running the New World Order Forum, during which time I welcomed some amazing international groups to the Castle.

 

I realised from close up that whilst there are many exceptional individuals working at the international level, global politics is driven by national self-interest in a way that compromises the very integrity of international institutions, unless we can rebuild trust from the bottom up. 

 

From then on, I resolved to focus my energies on working with leaders to help them in developing teams where trustworthiness and integrity sit at the heart of their values and culture.

So by 2005 I switched my whole focus to high trust leadership, working with all sorts of leadership teams across the country and occasionally bringing them to Windsor.

 

In 2016 I was delighted when the Board of St George’s House asked me to step up as Leadership Director of the House and establish the Society of Leadership Fellows.

 

Recruiting some 250 Leadership Fellows was an incredibly worthwhile experience that gave me all sorts of insights into the challenges of leadership at the most senior levels across all sectors of industry.

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Time for TEAM2030

As the Society of Leadership Fellows established itself as an integral part of St George's House,  I had a growing feeling that it was now time for me to combine my experiences of leadership development with my longstanding passion for ideas-building, in ways that aren’t possible as an impartial facilitator.

 

Hence the idea of TEAM2030, that I set up in 2020 with my long-standing business and coaching partner Krysia Hudek.  From the beginning, we were keen that our work testing out innovative leadership practices with an extensive network of leaders in TEAM2030 should generate PRACTICAL PROPOSITIONS that we can actually help make happen.

 

 So we're hoping that Coaching Pairs will be the first in a number of significant leadership innovations between now and 2030.

The importance of matching and leading by example

Last year, as we were developing our thinking that led us to Coaching Pairs, I felt very fortunate to be able to draw on all that my work in Windsor and elsewhere had taught me about the power of connection. 

Put together the right people in the right setting, do all that you can to encourage a strong and meaningful connection - then stand back and watch the magic!

Really, really, we should never under-estimate the power of connection.

 

This why the principle of matching is so important in Coaching Pairs.  Get the matches right, create the safe space for individual leaders to support each other, and the impact will be something else!

Similarly, my years as a facilitator have taught me so much about the power of leading by example.

Whenever I see someone in a small breakout group achieving a significant breakthrough in their thinking, I know that my role is to encourage them to share that with the rest of the group.  

Once one person trusts the group enough to share a personal breakthrough, others will follow suit.  

We hope you will apply the same principle to Awaydays at the end of a six month coaching cycle.

If you make sure that your first Awayday ends on a high, the next round of Coaching Pairs will feel that much more empowered as they start their six months together.

 

As night follows day, so will the breakthroughs that emerge at the end of their six months together feel that much greater too.

 

This is why we are so confident in the power of Coaching Pairs to strengthen your team, and keep on strengthening the team as each coaching cycle starts off with a higher level of self-awareness and a greater sense of all that you can achieve together.

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A word of appreciation

Very finally, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the wide range of our partners and colleagues whose ideas and inspiration have  provided the “fuel” for our work in TEAM2030.  

We see Coaching Pairs as one in a series of innovations and new ways of working that we hope to develop between now and 2030.    We are excited by the idea of Coaching Pairs in its own right and also in relation to what might follow, too!  

One person I want to give a special shout-out to is Krysia, who I have worked really closely with over so many years.  Looking back, I now realise that we had our own coaching pair during all this time, without calling it that!  Krysh became poorly late in 2022 and took time out, and is now back in action, re-energised and ready to climb at least 3 mountains before breakfast.  No surprise, then, that 2024 is already proving to be quite a year!

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