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This is all about
strong teams - the key to great leadership

by Pete Ashby, July 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.

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Ideas-building in Windsor Castle

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Throughout the '90s I worked with different Government Departments in testing out new policy ideas.  In the privacy of Windsor Castle we would bring together top civil servants and leaders of industry to explore with unemployed adults and other "consumers" of key government policies how they could best be tailored to maximise their impact.

 

Then we all experienced the awfulness of 9/11, and along with so many others I wanted to do something more than just watch from the sidelines.  I thought here I am working in the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world ... 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 Windsor.

 

Among the many things I learnt during that time, one BIG ONE was that policy wonks won't change the world!  Of course Governments need the right policies.   But the future of our planet and our whole way of life depends on one thing above all else, and that's LEADERSHIP!

 

 We need leaders who possess integrity and trustworthiness as well as vision and strategy.  

From then on, I resolved to focus my energies on working with leaders who have both vision AND integrity.

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 invited me to become the founding Director of the Society of Leadership Fellows.

 

Creating a leadership community with some 250 Leadership Fellows, including many CEOs and company Chairs and other established leaders, was an incredibly worthwhile experience. Facilitating intensive conversations for them across one, two and three day events was a real privilege and enabled me to work closely with some outstanding leaders whose personal stories and insights will never cease to inspire me.

Discovering the potential of Coaching Pairs

Through this experience of working closely with all sorts of different leaders, I became evermore aware of one of the greatest challenges facing many top leaders: they can so easily become DISCONNECTED from their own immediate teams.

Once this happens, the whole organisation tends to slip back.  

 

So it felt right to focus more on the challenges of team working and what CEOs would need to do to create stronger models of ONE TEAM LEADERSHIP.

Hence the idea of TEAM2030, that I set up in 2020 with my long-standing business partner Krysia Hudek.  We first started working together in the early '80s, and in so many ways have formed our own coaching pair ever since. 

 

Working with a range of Leadership Fellows and other leaders we have worked with over the years, Krysia and I explored a variety of innovations in leadership practices that could foster a more unified culture among leadership teams.

Over time, the idea that we kept on coming back to was Coaching Pairs.  It's an idea that sounds so SIMPLE.

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​Yet its POTENTIAL is huge, once one introduces the principle that there should be a change-round every six months.

 

This transforms a good idea with limited impact into a GAME-CHANGER, because it converts leader-leader coaching into the bedrock of a new commitment by a leadership team to accepting shared responsibility for the leadership development of every member of the team.

Strong teams are all about
cross-team connection!

This leads on to the final thought that I want to share, and reflects something that I have learnt through my years as a facilitator.  This is the power of personal breakthroughs in thinking, when there is sufficient trust in the room for people to share the breakthrough within seconds of it landing!


Whenever I'm facilitating a Board or leadership team Awayday, and can see someone in a small group achieving a significant breakthrough in their thinking, I know that my job is to encourage them to share that with the wider group.  

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

 

Really, I would say that nearly all of the most powerful experiences I have had with groups and teams have come from those moments when I "nudged" someone to share a thought that I knew they were just beginning to sharpen up in their own mind.

 

When I got this right, and they felt sufficiently trusting of the process to take the risk of saying out loud what they were thinking, this made possible the shared resolves that were taken forward by the whole group in the weeks and months that followed.

As Coaching Pairs become established, I really hope that CEOs will encourage individuals to speak freely in this way when the team comes together at the end of each six month coaching cycle.

Each time someone shares an insight that has come to them through their work with their coaching partner, and helped them to move forward in an area of development that involves some vulnerability on their part, you will be building a stronger and tighter leadership team.

Strong teams depend upon their team leader building ever greater CROSS-TEAM CONNECTION.

 

So long as you grab hold of this key principle and keep hold of it, you can use this idea to build yourselves a team that is stronger and closer and better able to think and act as one single leadership team.

 

If we can support you with taking forward the idea of Coaching Pairs, we will be thrilled.

 

And if the commentary on this site is enough for you to pick up this idea and run with it on your own, we will be just as thrilled.

 

Either way, VERY GOOD LUCK!

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