• Leander Rowing Club adds the the golden touch to Henley's Advanced Management Practice programme

The world’s most prestigious rowing club is enhancing Henley Business School’s Advanced Management Practice programme with some innovative approaches to leadership

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Founded back in 1818, the success of Leander Club has, by any measure, been spectacular, and its members have won more Olympic medals for rowing than any other single-sport club in the world.

But despite having champions such as Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell in its ranks, Leander could never be accused of resting on its laurels. Indeed, its state-of-the-art approach to technical training and coaching is ensuring that the next generation of Leander rowers will continue its proud heritage.

The collaboration between Leander Club and Henley Business School brings together two exceptional leadership development institutions, with Leander hosting a popular session for Henley’s Advanced Management Practice (AMP) programme.

Jezz Moore, who leads the session with the Henley delegates, previously coached the GB Junior Rowing Team and is currently a volunteer coach at Leander. Jezz specialises in executive and high-performance team coaching and, after conducting a tour of the Club, he offers delegates a range of insights into how Leander nurtures high performance among its elite rowers.

‘The way we behave is important, of course,’ says Jezz, ‘but it’s about so much more than that. At Leander, we delve deeply into the physiological impact of people’s emotional state and address the way they actually feel. Once we understand how we respond in certain situations, we can begin to control our responses, and by doing so, optimise the conditions for peak performance.

‘We’re all familiar with the concepts of stage fright, or have seen top sports people making irrational decisions at times. These states occur when the physiology of our emotional connections impairs our thinking. Emotionally, we might move from an anabolic to a catabolic state, and physically, we might experience a higher heart faster, faster breathing, dry mouth and clammy hands – all classic signs of pressure and stress. Recognising these signs, and their underlying causes, is critical to controlling them, and being able to think clearly.

‘So in the same way that any sports person might have a game plan and a nutritional plan, we develop emotional plans for our rowers, and we rehearse them repeatedly leading up to a major event, to ensure that each performer is able to attain the best possible outcome.

‘And it doesn’t matter whether a rower is relaxed or pumped-up – both are ok – the important thing is that he or she is aware of their emotional state and can therefore control its physiological signature. Under Sir Clive Woodward, the English team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 used to know this same principle as T-CUP: Thinking correctly under pressure.’

The effect on the Henley delegates has often been dramatic, as they start to realise how this approach can impact on their own leadership capability, enabling them to take important decisions with greater clarity, vision and focus.

Henley’s Head of Learning Design, Claire Hewitt, is delighted that the collaboration is working so well.

‘Having a session at Leander is a different kind of experiential learning for the AMP participants, and they come back enthused by the experience. Leander sets the bar very high through their dedication to their coaching, and seeing how these cognitive processes can regulate stress and produce better quality decision-making offers Henley delegates a real competitive advantage.

‘Jezz’s mantra at Leander is: the objective is not to win a gold medal, it’s to collect it, referring to his principle that the race is actually won a long time before it takes place, through rigorous preparation and training. And that is exactly what we aim to empower the AMP delegates to do in the context of their organisations.’

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If you have any questions, please contact our programme advisors, Hannah, Ruhi & Diana by email at exec@henley.ac.uk or by phone on +44 (0)1491 418767.

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