I think this is the part of the website where I’m supposed to tell you that I have 20 plus years experience as a team and leadership development guy. But that would be a lie. It’s just over 6 years now that I’ve been working specifically with teams and leaders in the private sector- across a number of different industries – helping them develop ways of working more productively together. So my time here is relatively short. But I’ve learned two things: this is my true professional calling and everything I have done in my life and career so far has led me to this work.
I spent the first ten years of my career as a classroom teacher. I now see teaching as a fantastic starter career. Among all the fabulous professional skills I picked up along the way, the most obvious and most useful was that of group facilitation. For 6 hours a day, every single day, I got to practice the art of keeping a group of people engaged, entertained and productive. This has transferred into my current career as some very useful workshop facilitation nous.
After a decade in the classroom I became a school deputy principal. This is where I started to learn that being a good team leader is not something that just happens by accident. I discovered that by working on my own understanding of leadership, and reflecting on the type of leader that I wanted to be, I could have a significant impact on the experience of everyone I worked with. It was at this point of my career that I began formulating the concepts that have led to the Healthy Leader, Healthy Team approach.
So then, after a total of 17 years in the world of education, I took the leap to the private sector. I wanted to take everything I’d learned about myself and other people and test it in a different way. In the grown up world. I became a management consultant.
As a management consultant in a small firm – 5d Consulting – I got to work on a huge range of different types of projects. But by far the work that gave me the greatest satisfaction was when I was given the task of creating, from scratch, a High Performing Team program. It was for one of 5d’s biggest clients. To the credit of both the client and my boss I was given Carte Blanche on the shape and direction the program would take. My only instruction – ‘just make sure it works’.
It was here that my life long passion for sport kicked in – we have so much to learn from professional sporting teams whose very existence relies on their ability to pull together as a unit towards a common objective. I mixed this with what I’d learned in education about people and the process of learning. Then I added a healthy dose of investigation. I consumed everything I could find about team leadership and performance. I read a bunch of books and research papers, I listened to speakers and I bounced my ideas off anyone who’d listen.
Eventually I came up with a comprehensive High Performing Team program, ready for rollout. I was satisfied with it as a piece of work. It was thorough and theoretically sound. I approached the process of team development in a way that I still believe in:
Individual – every member of the team reflecting on themselves. What makes them tick, how do they work, what have they got to offer the team, what are they working on professionally, what is the role they play within this team?
Team – seeking clarity around our common objectives and making sure we celebrate our wins, learning to get the most out of our various, personalities, talents and working styles, creating effective lines of communication, agreeing on standards of behaviour, prioritising our work so that team and organisational objectives are met.
Organisation – what is the role of our team within the organisation, how can we best interact with other groups, can we influence others within the organisation to develop their own team performance?
With the components of individual, team and organisation at the heart of the program I developed a useful HPT Framework that provided teams with a reference point – aspirational states of being. It provided a common language for participants to take along to journey and a framework to measure progress and set new goals.
So I took it on the road and rolled it out to a whole bunch of teams. Right from the first sessions the HPT program stood up to the test wonderfully well. It helped a lot of teams make great strides in the way they worked together. But of course – and it seems obvious to me now in hindsight – it was me and the program itself that got the most out of those first few years. I’d learned a lot in researching team performance, and I was able to bring a lot to the table from my career in education and from my experience playing in and watching team sports, but that was only the beginning. The hours, days, weeks and years of helping teams nut out their issues in facilitated team workshops and helping leaders find their authentic self in individual coaching sessions has added more to the quality of the work I do than all the other factors combined.
The work I do now with teams and leaders, and the helpful resources found on this website, is the culmination of everything I learned in developing and rolling out the HPT program. The Healthy Team and Healthy Leader programs are built in equal measure of life experience, professional learning and practical experience – not to mention a few scars along the way.