Army-based training enables business leaders to rise to the top

“To learn if someone has genuine leadership qualities you have to put them into real-life leadership situations, where their colleagues rely on them making the right decision quickly; where clear communication can save a situation; and where they must carry the team with them or the entire project fails.

This is why we work with the ex-Army team at Expert Leadership Training: they apply the right amount of pressure in genuinely testing situations to expose true leadership qualities in those that have them.” These words, from Mick Pinder, the MD of global manufacturer Chesterfield Special Cylinders (CSC), summarise the direct contribution to CSC’s management structure that the Expert Leadership Training (ELT) team has made.

“Working with ELT has proved invaluable when appointing the next generation of leaders. Equally, the courses have helped identify those who not only are not cut out for leadership, but also those who aren’t really cut out for the world of manufacturing,” adds Pinder. Based around the British Army’s proven methods of instruction, ELT’s courses provide an experience outside the classroom to nurture, train and progress individuals through a series of practical tasks designed to stretch and challenge individuals.

Working to a tight brief designed to bring leadership qualities to the surface amongst hitherto unsung colleagues, the bespoke training courses that ELT and CSC developed also delivered an unexpected benefit.

“We have a culture where everybody has the opportunity to rise through the ranks,” says Mick Pinder. “Of course, not everyone is a leader, nor needs to be. Benefits gained by everyone who has enjoyed these courses are a growth in confidence that we see across the board: confidence in their own abilities; in putting views forward; in their contribution. These courses demonstrate how people can contribute more and how the participation of the entire team translates directly to the workplace.

“However, as with any employer, we also have people who don’t seem to take advantage of the opportunities before them and ELT managed to show us why this was the case.

It has led to various solutions, including the re-designing of work-based training for some people.” ELT’s training programmes are a tailor-made blend of physical activities, decision-making, communication and management skills.

Importantly, they take place in the wilds of the Peak District National Park and are designed to ensure those with genuine leadership qualities to rise to the top. A five-mile hike across hilltops, involving orienteering and semaphore involves a combination of skills needed in many management situations: group participation, urgency, planning and effort.

Marking system underpins leadership skills

An element of ELT’s work that appealed particularly to Mick Pinder is the written assessment of each individual’s efforts. This scores each person’s efforts in various activities from ‘poor’ to ‘outstanding’, delivering a snapshot across all the qualities CSC needs in its leaders.

“This shows us who has the potential we’re seeking, who needs more work and in what areas, and who will never be a leader but can be a great foot soldier,” explains Pinder. “Sometimes the scores confirm what we already thought, but often it highlights skills we had not yet uncovered in someone and we can go on and give them more responsibility.

“For example, one colleague who was otherwise a born leader had very negative communication traits and this led to their team being alienated. We worked with ELT to demonstrate the importance of clear and direct communication through a series of orienteering exercises and now this person has established a far better relationship with their colleagues, just by communicating in a way that suits the workplace more.” For some companies working with ELT, the training courses help them move people on, out of the company.

Just as the courses can confirm that specific people are set for great things, they can also expose a lack of talent, commitment and effort in others. This means employers can save a lot of time and money trying to shape someone who is resistant to change and the employee can find somewhere more appropriate to their skillset or attitude. “For CSC, working with ELT is an investment in achieving fast but far-reaching results,” concludes Mick Pinder. “We are about to embark on our sixth course with the team, each time with a fresh set of colleagues who don’t know what to expect so have to arrive prepared for anything. Another plus is that they seem to enjoy it each time, too!”

Expert Leadership Training

For more information on any of our courses please give us a call on 0114 209 6086 or email info@expertleadership.co.uk

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