Getting Amped on leadership

Leadership Program

How an energy company embraced power skills (soft skills) to develop their operations leaders

Background

This Australian based company provides energy services and products all over Australia. A large part of the business is in generating the electricity with power stations all over the country.

The energy industry, like many others, is experiencing rapid change. A push for renewables, a changing workforce, and the relentless scrutiny on energy pricing.

A typical leader in the generation business is highly technical. They’ve moved into leadership positions because of their ability to get the job done, and done well. But when it comes to the human side of leadership, the so called soft skills, there were gaps in their capability.

Objective

Operating under the belief that managers manage systems and process, and leaders lead people — this company wanted to develop a team of great leaders. Leaders who would be ready for the future of work, with the capability of taking their teams along with them.

The primary project objectives included:

  • Developing a bespoke leadership program

  • Develop human communication skills in leaders

  • Develop small group facilitation skills

  • Get them firmly out of their comfort zone thinking about the future of work

  • Come together as a network of leaders to collaborate and support each other

Challenges

A predominantly male, blue collar, rural, introverted workforce meant quite a high level of skepticism.

Strong in technical skills, and dubious of the need to connect with their teams in any other way, meant breaking through some strongly held beliefs about what it meant to be a leader.

We were also up against a previous experience with a management consultant who had patronised and lectured the cohort. Needless to say, they weren’t enthused at the prospect of having to sit through another bad experience.

Solution

Amped was a series of three events that brought the entire operations leadership network together to explore themes such as connection, communication and collaboration — the fundamentals of great leadership. It was an opportunity to learn something new, get to know each other better — especially people working in other parts of the business, and ultimately, walk away with a few extra leadership tools in the kit to take back to work.

The format for Amped was across 3 face-to-face days with touchpoints in between to calibrate and embed learning.

Day 01: CONNECTION — With our leadership, with our work, with each other.

Day 02: COMMUNICATION — The words we speak, the language we use, the stories we tell.

Day 03: COLLABORATION — Foundations of trust, developing relationships, working together.

Some of the topics we explored were things like the evolution of leadership, leadership beliefs, the science of connection, physiology and communication, power of language, facilitation skills & leadership identity.

The senior leadership team played an integral part in breaking down the skepticism that existed by displaying vulnerability and opening up about their own leadership journeys. They also took lead roles in research assignments — researching and delivering back to the group on leadership topics such as empathy, purpose, authenticity, emotions & psychological safety.

Day 03 saw other people in the leadership cohort put their hands up to present research assignments back to the group to try out the skills they had learnt over the course of Amped.

The name itself Amped was part of our tactic to set this apart from other experiences the leadership group had been involved in. As was our decision to not call Amped a program, but rather a network. Network leant itself to longevity… this isn’t a one of, sheep dipping activity. It’s the start of a long term mindset. Amped gave us a world of puns to play with which further removed skepticism from the group. The design of the program fitted in with the recently relaunched external brand to feel official and increase the ownership the leaders had. This was their network – not some off the shelf management consultant package.

Results

The best part about developing a leadership program (network!) like Amped is hearing the stories that come back to us from the leaders themselves. When they’ve taken a concept like empathy and applied it to a real life scenario, and seen and felt the difference it made to the relationship with their team — and results to the business.

The leadership group consistently rated the days 4.5 out of 5 stars and made comments such as – best leadership development I’ve ever been involved in.

Probably the best result was that the group decided themselves, that the content was too important to not go further in the business and are currently working with Jaxzyn to develop ‘Milli-Amped’ — for the entire generation business. To be co-facilitated by the leaders and Jaxzyn.

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