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Leadership development – an insight

Finding positive resolutions to constructive conflicts was one of the highlights of a leadership course undertaken by Liquid’s Finance Director, Ben Carrett.

Ben joined fellow participants from the public and private sectors and NGOs on the Common Purpose Meridian programme in Birmingham. The course aims to boost team leadership skills and was particularly relevant for Ben as Liquid has undergone a period of dynamic change in the last 12 months.

Here, Ben discusses how the sessions encouraged open discussion and debate and looks at ways in which the course promotes positive leadership.

What did the course involve?

“The Common Purpose Meridian Programme is aimed at senior leaders needing to deliver complex change to a diverse group of stakeholders. The programme aims to develop your skills, your network of contacts and how you can make a positive impact for your organisation using an experiential approach.

“Spread over several months, the course comprises three core days where participants explore leadership themes as part of a cross-sector group, discuss challenges and how they are overcome as well as hearing from keynote speakers.

“Three half days or “immersions” allows participants to experience leadership and decision-making in various contexts. The sessions are held in a wide range of locations, e.g. prisons, schools, as well as business / community organisations.

“Finally, learning groups encourage smaller groups to discuss their own personal encounters. It sounds like a self-help group and in some ways it is, with Chatham House rules. Such openness and the sharing of information and ideas is hugely beneficial.”

What were you hoping to learn on the course?

“The course is relevant to the growth Liquid has achieved, as well as to my own transition of role from employee to director and the changes that brings.

“For me the main focus was a confidence boost, learning to manage change in terms of the role and growing company, and effective communication to the wider team.”

What are the top three things you took away from your experience?

“First, the learning groups enabled us to openly discuss issues we face in the workplace; quite an eye-opener. The participants weren’t allowed to voice their opinions on the speaker’s challenges but encouraged the exploration of processes and feelings, allowing each individual to formulate their own answers and conclusions to their challenges.

“Second, the course provided an insight into the variety of trials leaders and businesses can face, and how change was effected, hearing examples of both positive and negative outcome.

“Third, one of the immersion groups was held at an independent community centre. Receiving no funding from the council, the centre’s leadership team had to act to ensure its future. An example was opening the site to social enterprises – from renting out space for meetings, fitness and well-being, to an independent café employing local residents, sourcing locally where possible and reinvesting profits back into the area. They pride themselves on something for everyone. If it doesn’t exist, they’ll help you start it. The centre was a hive of activity and continues to be at the heart of the community.

Did you face any challenges? If yes, how did you overcome them?

“The entire programme is set out to challenge, from group activities where confidence and opinion is required to consider the views of others, to effectively presenting one’s own point of view as part of constructive conflict.

“Be present within the conflict, keep your view in mind but continue to be open to the various opinions of the group to find a new resolution.

What has been the highlight of the course?

“The course has given me a much better understanding of my own capabilities in challenging situations, which in turn has been a great confidence boost.”

Would you recommend this course?

“Definitely. The course encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself into group activity.

“The diverse experience and background of the speakers and participants along with the facilitators provides a safe space to learn and encourages personal reflection.”

Do you have any sage advice for anyone wishing to take courses to further their professional development?

“Stepping out of your comfort zone can be daunting. My advice would be to jump in with both feet. It’s worth it.”

Ben recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary at Liquid, an amazing achievement and a great start to 2020.