Aiming to engage the fullest spectrum of learning abilities possible, our programs include a mix of strong visual (video and photographic), auditory (lecturette and audio tape) and kinesthetic (physical movement) elements as part of our focused experiential education process.
First Steps: Pre-Session Work and Introduction to Situations
Having first prepared via a general pre-reading assignment, and by reading specific case studies on the subject leaders and events, participants are introduced to the circumstances and activity surrounding each case by our lead facilitators. Whether you are reliving the events by standing in position on a battlefield or imagining the action unfolding as described with the aid of photos and battle maps in a conference room, the stories of these exemplary leaders bring the action to life in a manner that is almost palpable.
Second Steps: Discussion, Debate and Analysis
Then, a facilitated discussion of the facts and background information underlying the events examined lends depth and breadth to the understanding of a leader's situation and mindset at the decision and action points revisited. Participants then discuss and debate the merit of decisions made and actions taken in the targeted leadership moments explored, and they test their inclinations and instincts against the facts, dynamics and situations held forth. They often miss the mark with their hindsight conclusions and hypothetical reactions to the crises. They realize that leadership involves much more than simply arraying resources and giving orders. They recognize clearly that due to the inevitable gaps in information, haphazard assessment of situations, too close a focus on immediate tactical actions and decisions, and the absence of clarity in direction and expectations, the glaring flaws in judgment on the field of battle might well have been prevented by different leadership behavior.
Third Steps: Reflection and Integration to the Work Environment
Next, participants reflect, some of which is guided, on the connections and distinct parallels between the leadership behavior and dynamics in their experience of the battle and those they contend with regularly in the workplace. They draw direct conclusions about what might be done differently in business situations based on their understanding of the errors and omissions committed, or the decisiveness and initiative demonstrated, by the battlefield commanders and soldiers studied. Then we explore how these insights relate explicitly to their organizations, and often have them relate specific dimensions of the leadership actions or inaction in the work environment as it reflects the dynamics of the battlefield. Their response is intellectual, visceral, and charged with emotion as it is sourced in the compelling drama of the battle relived. And, revealingly, it is also framed explicitly in the current context of the workplace. This emotional connection vividly imprints in memory the learning from the battlefield, and it anchors a powerful and renewed resolve to take action unique to any experiential medium we have explored.
Fourth Steps: Developing a Measurable Action Plan to Become a Better Leader at Work
Nearing the end of the experience, either individually or collectively, participants focus their thinking and develop specific and measurable plans of action to do things differently regarding at least one specific leadership challenge faced in their current role in the organization they represent. With the clarity achieved from the rich perspective gained through the examination of decisions and actions in battles or crisis situations, participants make personal commitments to change specific aspects of their leadership practices when they return to work. This gained advantage, of moving beyond the recognition of the theoretical applicability of concepts taken from the battle metaphor to an explicit and specific transfer of insights into concrete actions in the workplace, removes the element of chance as to whether or not participants will be able to convert an experience designed to foster their development to make a difference in their work. In our experience, it is THE differential advantage.
A Note: Team-Building Benefits
Though our approach is focused on leader development at an individual level, because changes in leadership behavior or practice always have to be actively embraced by the individuals involved, most of our programs are delivered to either intact leadership teams or work teams, or to groups composed of individuals from different departments or functions in the same company or organization. The intact teams frequently include three reporting levels and, occasionally a fourth. The compounding effect of our individualized development focus within a team context can be a powerful accelerant to team building, and to rapidly changing the focus for leadership in a broader organization.