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Last week, we enjoyed our annual Team Day and Christmas celebrations. Every year, this is a special time when we spend the day as one big Leading Edge community.
We’re people who value moments together, who bring out the best in each other, who learn from each other and who love supporting our clients. We’ve all still been these people in 2020, but we’ve just had to do it all a bit differently. (Is that the understatement of the year?!)
Here are some of my thoughts on the year with input from Michaela, Victoria and Sarah, too…
Balancing optimism and realism
I’ve been optimistic all the way through this strange year, always thinking that we’d be back to normal that bit sooner than we were will be. This year has reinforced my bias towards good news! Thankfully, people around me are better at facing into the bad news and the difficulties.
Since setting up Leading Edge in 2007, we’ve pretty much been in growth. The difficult times as we headed towards the decision on Brexit had made us rethink our business model and restructure. We’d had our own ‘fail fast’ and had come out more agile and flexible, so it was good to notice that we were less panicked by this global pandemic and able to be more philosophical and practical, looking at best case/worst case while considering different outcomes.
Chatting to a couple of trusted friends and mentors in business helped so much – they gave good advice around not focusing on the problem but looking at the opportunity beyond the problem. One said: “The real win is in how you come out on the other side of the problem.” This stuck with me – true for both Leading Edge and our clients – and we made sure we took stock, checked that our core principles and thinking would still be relevant for the world beyond the storm, and readied ourselves for a new context and landscape.
Caring for clients – caring for each other
I remember back in March chatting with Victoria, Director – Client Experience, about not leaving any stone unturned in supporting clients – basically doing absolutely everything we could to be there for them. But then, once we’d done that, remembering to be kind to ourselves. This was an unprecedented time – time we wouldn’t get again.
She played this moment back to me as clarifying her big learning of the year – the importance of wellbeing as well as performance – and how she feels we were there for each other as a team as much as we were there for clients. Victoria arranged free virtual sessions with some clients in April around leading through disruptive change – a great opportunity for us to check in on how they were, understand how best to support them and simply be there for them, with no expectation of when the next client programme would take place.
Moments that strengthen beliefs
So many of my memories from this year are moments in time that have reinforced my belief in what we do and how we do it. One of Leading Edge’s founding beliefs is that great partnerships start with great relationships, and this past year has been an excellent time to get closer to clients and build these relationships, without doing actual business. I’m proud that we’ve genuinely looked to help for the right reasons.
I’ve also been truly humbled that the concern we’ve shown for our clients has been reciprocated. I talked about this in a blog back in March, but my feeling of how our clients have shown genuine care for our wellbeing and our business is still as strong today.
Another moment that strengthened belief came for Sarah. In June, we asked her to join our leadership team and move from Team Coach to Client Experience Lead. She says this showed absolute confidence in the business at a difficult time, and a forward-facing approach that demonstrated confidence in the future.
Coming out the other side…
That was six months ago. Between then and now, Sarah has been doing amazing work with Mars as part of a team of seven brilliant Leading Edge Team Coaches, virtually supporting on transformation projects with 13 senior teams across Europe. We’ve supported Mars with leadership and development for many years. Sarah described her own learnings on this journey around becoming part of their team and understanding how they really do value the challenge we bring to encourage their confidence to make a change and make a difference.
Having the opportunity to keep supporting Mars these past few months has been fantastic and has felt, in some ways, ‘normal’. Many clients have needed to pause development programmes, moving them back a few months or into next year. We know that the timing needs to be right for them and their businesses, so until then, we’ll keep in touch at a level that works for them and be ready to pick things back up again when they give us the nod.
I only realised as I started writing this blog that there’s loads of stories like this one that I’m keen to share. So I’ve decided to halt this post here, and will post a follow on blog early next week.