Investing in your leaders

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How efficient would your organisation be if it still ran on Windows 95?

As good as the software may have been, time moves on, and in the two decades since it was launched the world has changed and technology has developed exponentially.

The same is true of leadership development training, but many organisations are stuck in a time-warp, stubbornly believing that the methods and philosophies that applied in the last century still work. Evidence suggests, however, that it doesn’t produce leaders who can cut it in today’s competitive environment.

Dr Suzanne Pollack, Programme Director for Henley Business School’s Leadership Programme, points to this underinvestment as a key reason why a lot of companies lose their competitive advantage.

‘Lots of managers simply don’t understand themselves, or their role within the organisation. They don’t realise that the days of prescriptive approaches to business challenges are long gone. So, we help them to “re-wire” themselves so that they think and act differently. And so begins the transformation of good leaders into great ones.

‘For most organisations, their biggest investment is their people, but – alarmingly – many of them are still trying to develop their talent on the minimum possible budget. The rewards for flipping that on its head and maximising the budget are tangible.’

A map to the horizon

‘Anyone who is at a crossroads in their career – possibly recently promoted, or taking on a new role – has new responsibilities, and will question their own capability to cope with the new challenges. We help them find their direction and the confidence to delegate, both of which energises them. They come away seeing clearer, and further.’

Based on Suzanne’s experience of developing high-performing individuals at Henley, she believes that another problem is that people become engrossed in dealing with the everyday challenges of business life. Having a map that shows where the horizon is, even if it’s not immediately visible, gives leaders a focus that vastly improves their thinking processes.

‘And we simply don’t give ourselves the time and space to consider our options. Too often, we make snap judgements in the heat of the moment, and only later recognise that stepping back and assessing alternative courses of action might have been more beneficial. This behaviour inhibits clear, creative, innovative and effective thinking. But it can be turned around.’

According to Suzanne, the great leaders are the ones who have learned – and appreciate – the advantages that can be gained by holding back: ‘They are the ones who find a quiet place in the storm’.

The programme and its outcomes

Henley’s Leadership Programme – made up of a five-day module, followed by a two-day follow-up session – is an intense experience that focuses on delegates’ individual needs, making it targeted and relevant.

For Suzanne, this tailored approach is at the core of the programme’s success, and one of the main reasons it has so many repeat clients and enthusiastic ambassadors.

‘Different people have different challenges and want different outcomes from the programme. By giving each participant one-to-one attention, we can assist them to focus precisely on the right tools and techniques to achieve their goals.’

They are also encouraged to ‘pay it forward’, which means organisations get a lot of bang for their buck. So when our participants’ colleagues see the change in them and what they are bringing to the table, it has a multiplying effect and they want some of it too.

Details of Henley’s Leadership Programme can be found at

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

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