It’s been another memorable year of supporting our brilliant clients with team development, leadership and change, and this has meant plenty of opportunity to bring learnings from business into sport and sport back into business.
Standout for Leading Edge in 2019 has been our continued journey with the British Olympic Association (BOA). Seeing an initial learning and development collaboration concept come to fruition under the banner TEAMEDGE has been amazing and, through this, we’re having great conversations and exploring meaningful projects with some major companies. Watch this space…
Creating a community
We love sharing our learnings of high-performance sport and business with like-minded clients and friends, and our High-Performance Events continue to attract this community.
In March, our event was hosted by Thomas Becket in Northampton – an inner-city school that Exec Headteacher Ciran Stapleton has transformed through leadership and culture. Our guests found it truly humbling to tour the school and hear from children who are pushing hard every day to be the best they can be and perform highly in challenging circumstances, without much opportunity coming their way. Valuing moments together is at the heart of Leading Edge’s culture and it was an absolute privilege to be able to spend time in the school and then host guests and pupils for the final game in the England U20s Six Nations against Scotland.
Sharing learnings and listening to others’ L&D stories was the name of the game for us at this year’s CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition. This was a first for us: we’ve never advertised and have grown through recommendation, but this event is the place to engage with the HR community, and to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. It’s built on sharing and we hope people enjoyed seeing Leading Edge there and hearing our stories.
A speaking slot gave me the privilege of being joined on stage by Sarah Kelleher, a Leading Edge Team Coach and former Ireland International Hockey Captain. While I shared stories of our character-development support for England Rugby’s next generation, which included Rugby World Cup star Tom Curry among the cohort (very topical as the event was just days after the final!), Sarah had the audience gripped with truly insightful stories of how understanding our higher purpose, which goes beyond winning medals or the bottom line, can make all the difference when you’re up against it on the pitch, in business – or in life in general. I continue to be blown away by the fact that Sarah, someone who was at the very top of her game and has definitely ‘been there and done it’ in the sporting context, wants to work with Leading Edge because she feels totally aligned with our culture and our points of view on team, leadership and change.
Truly partnering with clients
With more than a decade as a preferred L&D partner for Mars, it’s humbling to reflect on just how many friends we’ve made and strong bonds we’ve formed across so many sides to the global organisation. And it’s a similar story with Levi’s, with our most recent venture seeing Don Barrell (Team Coach and Head of Regional Academies at the RFU) and me head to Barcelona for the Dockers conference. This brand relaunch was super important to Levi’s and it mattered equally to us to be there in support and have conversations about their evolving culture. Don even made it onto the catwalk!
We supported Whitbread to bring to life their vision of awesome leadership and we’ve just kicked off a long-term programme with their head office teams. We love creating new relationships and are super excited to see where this takes us. Another long-term relationship is with Jaguar Land Rover. We’re delighted that our new preferred supplier status will help to move programmes from proposal to fruition more seamlessly. Our current location for JLR is the Solihull factory, where more than 10,000 people work, and we’re chuffed to support this iconic brand to drive even higher performance.
In the travel and tourism sector, our tailored programme for TUI North Region Airlines (UK/Nordics) around cultural change touched 120 senior leaders and their teams. And we’ve been cruising along with Carnival (excuse the pun!) for some time now, but this year Team Coaches Victoria Freer-Hewish and Dave Buffham went aboard for a three-day cruise. What matters to our clients matters to us, and our discovery work ahead of programme design is something we take seriously. I’m sure our Team Coaches would agree that some gigs get their excitement going more than others, and I know that Victoria and Dave did plenty of hard work while fully immersing themselves into cruise life. It’s not often that preparing for a discovery session requires black tie and ball gowns!
Exciting times ahead
Victoria has been a Team Coach with us for nine years and I’m so chuffed that we move into 2020 with her as our new Head of Client Experience. It’s taken us most of that time to encourage her into a leading role… and the gentle threat of not letting her off the Carnival ship until she said ‘yes’ did the trick! Anyone who’s experienced Victoria’s client management style and facilitation will know just how good she is and we’re so excited about how she’ll guide and support our Team Coaches to be the best they can be while making sure our clients’ experiences are top-notch.
Also exciting moving into next year is our continued support for The FA and its Level 5 for Technical Directors Programme. It’s been a huge privilege to coach Les Ferdinand (QPR’s Director of Football) these last two years, and I know Team Coach Lesley Roberts feels the same about supporting Heather Cowan (Tottenham Hotspur Head of Women’s Football). Les asking me to be his ‘plus one’ (and the same for Lesley as Heather’s guest) for the recent graduation ceremony was a proud moment – who’d have thought I’d be hanging out with Les Ferdinand?! What a top guy. Our role is growing with this 20-month programme and four Team Coaches will be supporting the next cohort.
I talked earlier in the year about how heart-warming it is when we’re able to connect our fantastic clients with charities for the good of both and we were so grateful to our clients for donating amazing money-can’t-buy experiences and memorabilia for the recent Helping Hands Gala Dinner. Their wonderful generosity along with hard work from the Leading Edge team helped raise a fantastic £9,000 – a sum of money that Helping Hands will do amazing work with in support of vulnerable and homeless people in Warwickshire.
We’ll continue to help this charity in any way we can as we move into 2020 and wish them, our clients and the community that we love to support a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.