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Nine Holes to Leadership

At last, the half-truths and subterfuge can stop and corporate golfers can now 'fess up' to being on a 'course' during working hours.

Leadership development specialists, the Courageous Communication Partnership (CCP) has launched Fore!

Originators, Anthony Etherton and Tom Magdich, have worked as independent consultants in management development for several years, read most of the books and bought the Tee-Shirts along the way. They've facilitated and coached at the highest levels with some of the biggest organisations in the world and formed CCP in response to an undercurrent of personal and client-based dissatisfaction with the 'greyness' of learning and development models.

Fore! is a unique experiential workshop aimed at senior managers, directors and Chief Executives. It uses a unique version of the game of golf as a vehicle for the further development of leadership behaviours and communication skills.

Those who play the game cannot have failed to recognise the analogous link between the challenge of the game and the challenges of business and life in general.

Just when you thought everything was going great, you take your eye off the ball; lose the swing of things, and your plans end up bunkered.

Our key questions for the participants are," How do you lead in other areas of your life and, which communication insights gained on the course might enable you to lead more effectively in business?"

How it works...

Fore! consists of a regular four-ball, increased by one to include a 'team leader'. The leader's role is to create a strategy enabling the team to reach its target.

Amongst other distractions, the twists in the tail are that Fore! allows only one ball between the whole team, imposes a time limit to test even the Tiger and may also present challenges in the form of 'characters' on the course to test the patience of a saint.

On hand at the team selection stage will be the resident golf professional of the venue to give technical tips to the team and strategic advice to the appointed leader.

While the delegates loosen up on the driving range and putting green, the team leader has the opportunity to assess the individual members' skill-sets and then creates a game plan to achieve the goal.

If it seems simplistic, it is... on the surface.

Each leader gets a time limited nine-hole round to expedite their plan and the progress of the team and leader is monitored by a facilitator on various media including a DVD camera. Once over, the whole team is then facilitated through a 360 feedback session.

"We're looking for what worked about their leadership styles and also what they or the team would like to see modified, changed or simply thrown out, about the way the team were led through the challenge", says Anthony.

"It's not our intention to crush people by concentrating on what may have gone wrong", adds Tom, "But we certainly want to give delegates some food for thought to take back into to their business and personal lives".

An extra dimension can be introduced to the programme by using actors scattered around the course, briefed to create a few bunkers of their own. "The ability to improvise out of a tricky situation is an essential leadership skill. We like to see how they handle a few unexpected slices and hooks in the form of slow players, dog walkers, lost Japanese tourists etc", says Anthony.

For five delegates the whole workshop takes three days as each delegate gets a chance to lead the team. It culminates in a final half-day de-brief looking at gathering together insights gained, what can be taken back into the workplace and what the challenges of doing so might be. Delegates may also be offered communication tools, observations related to any difficult challenges faced while undertaking the task, and shared best practice.

"Clients don't come to us for Venn diagrams, pie charts and Harvard management models", says Anthony." There are plenty of other places to go if they want to approach leadership from an intellectual standpoint and be pontificated at."

"It's our mission to research writings and theories and create our own unique delivery models around leadership communications development. We then apply that knowledge to the delivery of experiential programmes to challenge and transform clients, eager to experience and test their boundaries", says Anthony.

Both partners have had a wide range of professional experience before starting CCP. Anthony started in hospitality management, moved into sales management, then, after re-training, switched into business journalism. After several years in the corporate world he re-trained as an actor and had a career of 10 years playing baddies in everything from The Bill to Robin Hood. For the past several years he's worked internationally as a freelance communications skills coach.

Likewise, Tom trod the boards of the West End in several hit shows. At heart he's an entrepreneur with a skill-set combing the introspective dynamic of a psychotherapist with the external energy of a skilled raconteur and presenter. He built a small service and retail business in the 80's selling his own branded products which he sold in the early 90's. Since then he's made it his business to help other leaders grow their businesses as a coach and mentor to an impressive array of high-ranking executives in Europe and the US .

Sick, tired and bored with PowerPointed lectures delivered in grey-walled training venues, CCP's clients are exposed real world experiences. In fact both partners hate the word 'training' and feel it describes what dogs, cats and sundry other animals are subjected to. "P eople can get real benefits from exploring and developing their knowledge, ideas and beliefs", says Tom. A core tenet of the CCP philosophy is that when it comes to interpersonal leadership skills development, all the book learning in the world can't be as effective as 'get up and do.' Using actors has been core to CCP's programming structure all along and adds an element of controllable reality to the challenges created for clients.

Fore! Takes place at what would be considered four-star courses anywhere in the world. Should delegates want to push out the five-star boat out a little, then the likes of Wentworth, Augusta or Villamoura might only be a short par four away.

CCP's core objective is to create experiences for people, transforming the way they see themselves and how they operate in the world, both personally and professionally. Contact CCP on 07973 625 389 or info@courageous-communication-partnership.com

September 30, 2008

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