What makes the Advanced Personal Leadership programme so different?
Shunning the usual classroom approach to learning, the Advanced Personal Leadership programme immerses you in real-life leadership challenges, enabling you to test your natural responses and explore new behaviours. By witnessing the ongoing impact of different leadership styles, you will gain an essential insight into how you can bring out the best in yourself and others.
If you are thinking of signing up to the Advanced Personal Leadership programme, you are probably already in a senior role or have been identified as a high flier. You have also probably been on a more traditional leadership programme. What you are looking for therefore is something that is different, something that is challenging and a programme that addresses the particular issues you face at this more senior level.
Because of this, the approach to learning on this programme has to be entirely different. We abandon completely the theoretical classroom approach, with lectures, handouts, case studies etc. and create what is called a completely experiential programme. This means that the learning is generated by you ‘doing’ leadership, rather than talking about it.
Leadership in action
Working in groups, you will tackle a series of real challenges and, using all your leadership abilities, move them forward. Whether that is done by leading or initiating ideas within your own group, resolving the competition and conflicts that arise or by influencing and building consensus with other groups, it is your responsibility to manage whatever happens. Including the difficulties and the strong emotions generated.
A critical part of the process is that this is continuous throughout the week and behaviours and feelings generated on any given day have to be dealt with and taken into account on the next, just as in real life. Inevitably this means that the whole programme exists in a space of uncertainty and ambiguity, just as in real life at a senior level.
The importance of this experiential approach is that it enables both you and the tutors to experience a range of actual leadership behaviour and to give very direct and honest feedback on the impact that this has, both negative and positive. It is also worth noting that this feedback will be free of the political or emotional bias that you normally experience in the workplace.
Feedback takes place daily throughout the week and, while at times challenging, is key to your process of change. It also enables you to reflect in a very deep and intensive way about your behaviour, the reasons for it and what you would like to change. You can then experiment during the week with new behaviours and insights. The fact that everyone with you on the programme is in the same situation makes it much easier to be totally open in these discussions.
Important though it is, the programme is not just an exercise in increased self-awareness; its aim is to achieve much more than that. Leadership is about understanding not just yourself but other people and through your real experiences on the programme you will:
- come to understand how to inspire and motivate the team or the organisation you lead
- witness the impact of different approaches to leadership
- increase your emotional intelligence
- get to feel for yourself what happens when different approaches to leadership either work or fail and to consider the relevance to your own organisation
- engage in discussions about organisational cultures and ways of bringing about change – two major preoccupations of senior leaders
Unexpected experiences and life-changing results
At the end of the day, what matters about any programme, experiential or otherwise, is its impact and whether you learn anything useful. Feedback is very consistent regarding the Advanced Personal Leadership programme. For most delegates the experiential process proves very different to what they had expected. It is very challenging but, because of that, their confidence in their own ability to deal with all the uncertainties and challenges of leadership increases enormously.
For most, the learning feels very real and takes them way beyond what they had expected. Most importantly, it feels very relevant to the issues they are facing. In addition, the intensity and the depth of the experiences they share with other participant’s means that bonds are forged that will sustain for a long time beyond the programme. The words that are commonly used are that this programme has been for many both transformational and life changing.
To find out more about the Henley Business School’s Advanced Personal Leadership programme, visit henley.ac.uk/APL.
Kate Huson, Programme Director for Advanced Personal Leadership