Leading The Tribe #11

Survive the Unexpected

Step 11: Leadership Development Journey

Through the 10 previous articles, we have gone through the ICM Associates leadership model.  It has been the basis of our training and development tools over the past years. The situation has changed in 2020. An unexpected (or expected in some cases) virus has spread all around the world, forcing us to rethink our methods, even though in recent years we had to consider a more and more constraining and demanding environment.

As we gradually emerge from this unprecedented crisis, we must, as consultants, respond to what this environment and its constraints will be like. We see several points that will structure leadership development approaches, at a time when the quality of leadership will be a major competitive advantage.

Develop Visio-training

That seems obvious. Already today, we frequently conduct distance seminars, using software that allows us to virtually gather a significant number of individuals to a virtual classroom and interact with them in a flexible and efficient way. The drastic reduction in travel and costs will make these methods the key stone of future approaches. At least it makes it possible to conduct a seminar without masks…

For consultants and trainers, this is a new profession to be developed, because one does not conduct seminars remotely and in a virtual way as does with a group that is physically present. Managing of the system that enables these interactions, using one or more technical devices, requires, for example, decoupling responsibility for the content from responsibility for the manipulation of the devices. Two things that were usually managed by the same person. It requires more discipline on participants to make interactions audible and efficient. It also requires working on shorter and probably more numerous sequences, considering time zones and availability to technologies.

Many elements have to be rethought in order to design programs that meet the expectations of our clients and participants. Consultants will learn too to rely on new practices. 

Deploy programs over time

The dream of three or five-day seminars that turn the average manager into a fighting leader, mythical though they may have been, are now likely to disappear. It’s easy to forget what you’ve covered in three days of training and the daily routine quickly takes over. We go back to our traditional ways of doing things and keep very little of what we have learned, although often much appreciated.

Long-term work will be preferred. A twelve or eighteen-month step by step program, built on light but relevant interventions, allows for sharing content, experiencing it, debriefing the results, and building a real community of interest within a group of participants.

Customize the approach

A group of participants is first and foremost a group of individuals with different aspirations, challenges, constraints, work environments and personalities. The tools available today allow us to interact with both the collective and the individual, through virtual face-to-face interactions, to meet specific needs. It’s just a question of organization over time. Coaching each participant according to his or her expectations and what concerns him or her is accessible through the use of distance working technologies.

Keep up with the participants’ workload

Everyone will have to work hard to get out of today’s crisis and return to a thriving economy. That means less time available for training and education. It will be more and more so. The relevance, duration and timing of interventions become essential.

This was already the case before the COVID19 crisis, and many consulting firms have adapted their approaches. Furthermore, in recent years, we have seen the “fun” part of seminars diminish in favor of more substantial issues. We have adapted and we must continue to do so.

Cut costs

That’s not good news for us. But we have to face the brutal facts. Again, this is not new, but the trend will harden over the next few years. The hunt for the superfluous will be merciless.

Corporations’ results in 2020 are unlikely to match those of 2019… Including for the GAFAMs, which today see their market capitalization soar. A certain drop in consumption flows could also affect them. The objectives will be to invest wisely, to save money and cut costs. Nothing new, but still accentuated. It will therefore be necessary to pursue an adaptation that we have already begun but which will be even more essential. Using technology, asking for less availability, using spare time as educational building blocks…

Diversify training approaches

Today, thanks to the Internet, we have at our disposal an unlimited source of knowledge, diverse communication tools and numerous possibilities for interaction. Let’s use them. Let’s train ourselves to use them. Let’s make this very special time a great opportunity for pedagogical innovation.

What will a program look like tomorrow?

As I said, it’s a trend that will last. Doing more and better with fewer resources, less time available, less complacency for the superfluous.

This is what our programs look like. We have been designing them for our clients for the past two or three years. We will continue to adapt them to meet the constraints of the post-crisis period, but the fundamentals are already there.

Program Structure

Our approach and program are different and innovative. They strongly link two critical dimensions: leadership and cultural change. 

It is spread over a period of 12 to 18 months, during which a cohort of 15 to 20 managers will follow a path whose rhythm ensures constant interest and is respectful of the participants’ workload. So, on the one hand the participants will remain “in tension” on the subject and on the other hand they will have time to test what they are working on during the leadership journey within their teams.

Over this period of time the program allows participants to go through the model and explore the different leadership postures, and to work on the skills, postures and behaviors that facilitate their professional challenges at an individual level. At the same time, they will explore their role of change leaders and how enriching their leadership capabilities can speed up the cultural change process required.

Example: Program Roadmap

Step 1        
The program begins with a preliminary individual assessment so that each participant has the opportunity to debrief with a coach the general direction of their participation and the development objectives they set for themselves. There are two parts to this assessment:

  • a personality profile with Scan-Up, a unique tool that measures how an individual mobilizes their different cognitive systems (ideation, design, action and control) to move from intention to action and learn from experience
  • a 360° survey conducted with team members, based on a questionnaire covering the six leadership postures that will allow each participant to focus on the essential.

Step 2        
An initial residential (if possible) work session then allows the cohort to form, bond, and go through the model with conversations and exercises involving highly interactive techniques, role plays and outdoor activities.
This session is an opportunity for participants to make links with the leadership competency model and profile of their company, if it exists. The two approaches are mutually reinforcing.

Step 3        
Each posture is then explored, over a period of six weeks, through theory, homework on cases, online videos, application in the daily work environment, and exchanges with facilitators and other participants…  
This gives participants the possibility of understanding the full meaning of each posture and its relevance to specific situations; to work on the skills underlying the posture they most need to develop; and, for each participant, to experiment and test new approaches in their daily work.

Step 4        
The program ends with a 360° evaluation identical to the one conducted at the beginning of the course in order to measure the gaps and progress made by the participant. A closing session allows the participants to celebrate the end of the journey and exchange about themselves, their experience, their discoveries, their leadership and how this journey will help them evolve, progress and respond to the challenges of a very demanding future.

The Blend

Based on each of the Leadership Postures, we design a “blend” that integrates a variety of pedagogical techniques now available to interact with participants: residential meeting at the beginning; video-conferencing exchanges (individual and group); work on cases addressed to participants and collectively debriefed online; webinars (short online sessions); telephone or skype individual coaching; situational videos to name a few. Just as it is a good thing to diversify and spread out the time devoted to training, it is also important to diversify the development methods and tools.

Thus the program that ICM co-designs and develops with its client includes a variety of approaches: physical meetings at the beginning and end of the program, outdoor activities, theoretical contributions in the form of presentations, documents, video and bibliography, measurement tools in the form of self-assessment questionnaires or personality profiling, video debriefing with an accredited coach, e-learning sessions, situation videos, conferences conducted in webinars.

ICM always ensures that these sessions are short, have a high-impact and are systematically followed by personal work. Upon client request, it is also possible to mobilize the members of the cohort around projects that will accompany and support the change projects undertaken by the company.

In Step 12, we will look at one of the most critical ability of teams and people going through tough times: Resilience. Over the past 7 years, ICM Associates has worked on this topic, running surveys, developing models and methods and servicing clients willing to go through crisis as quickly and fruitfully as possible.

Charles Gancel

April 2020


ICM Associates (Paris) is a member of the PAWLIK Consultants (Hamburg)

Have a look at Step 1 Leadership definition

Have a look at Step 2 The world as it goes

Have a look at Step 3 Facing dilemmas

Have a look at Step 4 Leader tomorrow

Have a look at Step 5 Leading from above

Have a look at Step 6 Leading from ahead

Have a look at Step 7 Leading from beside

Have a look at Step 8 Leading from among

Have a look at Step 9 Leading from behind

Have a look at Step 10 Leading from far




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