Masterclasses in organisational change, executive coaching and behavioural change

Join us in London throughout 2017 to learn critical skills in organisational change, executive coaching and behavioural change.

Hot on the heels of our successful one-day BootCamps, we’re delighted to announce a series of intensive two-hour afternoon sessions covering some of the most common questions we’ve been asked.

Our MasterClasses provide an opportunity to look at specific challenges in detail and answer questions to accelerate your leadership and change projects.  Best of all, like all our public events, they’re completely FREE!

Our new schedule will cover topics such as:

  • Creating an internal coaching programme
  • Effective management and measurement of executive coaching
  • Harnessing the power of culture
  • How to create meaningful change (and ditch the ‘values’)
  • Turning leadership promises into business results
  • Getting the most from 360° assessment

For more details, and to book your free place, visit our events page.

Look forward to seeing you soon!

Mindfulness – an unhelpful cliché that misses the point

Mindfulness and the broader topic of employee well-being has swept onto the development agenda over the last couple of years.  In its wake are thousands of managers frantically trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Happier employees work harder, stay longer and deliver better results.  A study in December concluded that “Happiness seems to motivate greater effort, increasing output without affecting its quality and thus boosting productivity”.

Mindfulness, strictly speaking, is a form of meditation.  If that makes you happy then great, but recognise that the things that make others happy are many and varied.  A run in a city in the morning when the sun is coming up makes me happy.  Variety in my work and certainty about the future also makes me happy.  For an employer who gives me all three I’ll work harder and stay longer!

The issue with the ‘mindfulness’ cliché is that it risks turning employee happiness and well-being into a fad.  The most successful organisations have been investing in employee well-being for years, and they’ll continue to do so once ‘mindfulness’ disappears from the front pages of the newspapers.

The majority of organisations however will jump on the ‘mindfulness’ bandwagon, throw a bit of money at someone who will demonstrate meditation techniques, be disappointed at the results, declare it a failure and contribute to the decline of employee well-being as an area of focus.

If you really want to make the people in your team happy, try understanding what motivates them and then working with them to make practical changes to the work environment.

That’s not ‘mindfulness’, it’s good leadership.

Leadership development in action: Nyomi’s story

Just under a year ago we completed a 2 year high potential (HIPO) development programme with Shred-it, the the world’s leading secure information destruction company and part of Stericycle Inc.

We welcomed participants from across Shred-it’s EMEAA operations, from the UK, Ireland, Germany and South Africa to a programme that would equip them to be leaders of the future, by focusing on enhancing their understanding of business and what it takes to lead and inspire others.

Nyomi Loftus joined the programme as an Internal Sales Representative.  Throughout the programme she proved herself to be inquisitive, bold and humble.  We were delighted to hear from Nyomi recently with an update on her progress.

Firstly I wanted to get in touch to say a massive thank you for the work you did with me during the HIPO program.

Since the program finished I applied and got a position as an Internal Sales Team Leader.  I have now been in the role for 6 months. During that time I have been consistently looking back over the material that we covered.

I have grown my team from 5 people to 8 and managed to drive their performance to now being consistently over 120% to target.

Yesterday I passed my probation and it got me thinking about the true value achieved from taking part in your training.

I am sure you will pleased to hear that I am now the proud owner of a reflections diary.

Overall, I believe that the program came at the perfect time for me, it really helped me cement some focus when the rest of my life was very difficult.

When I think back to Nyomi that did the interviews for that programme, I see a totally different person both personally and professionally.

Hope you are doing well and imparting your wisdom on other professionals.

I thank you and everyone else involved in the program for helping me to understand my true potential.

Nyomi Loftus  |  Internal Sales Team Leader

Stericycle, Inc.

Thanks Nyomi for letting us share your story, congratulations on your success, and the very best of luck for the future!

Success requires lots of small steps in the right direction

pic1It’s been a pleasure to work with the team at Sapphire over the last 6 months.  A hugely successful design and manufacturing business, we’ve been supporting them in the building of their operating strategy and the development of clear behavioural principles that will guide their continued growth.

Earlier this month, the strategy and behavioural principles were introduced to the business as part of a team event that gave us the opportunity to use one of our favourite exercises – the Marshmallow Challenge.

Time and time again, the teams that succeed in this challenge are those that are willing to prototype, to take a small step forward, test their model and use their learnings to further improve.

pic2The lessons apply equally for the successful implementation of organisational behaviours. Organisations and the people in them don’t change overnight, but by resolutely applying the prototyping mindset, continuing to take small steps in the right direction, it won’t take Sapphire very long to become the organisation they want to be.

Why we love to run free events

For over 3 years, we’ve been running regular Leadership BootCamps across the UK.

Our BootCamps are free events on a range of topics close to our heart such as Executive Coaching, High Performing Teams and Organisational Change.

So why do we continue to give away learning that our customers have told us regularly they’re prepared to pay for?

  1. We like meeting new people.  We love our customers (very much), but we also like meeting new people.  We’re a bunch of extroverts, so new encounters keep our energy levels high.
  2. We love our topic areas.  We’re passionate about coaching, leadership and change so that’s what our BootCamps focus on.  We love talking to people about these topics, and we love the questions and challenges they bring along to discuss.
  3. We love presenting.  A lot of our team are from learning and development backgrounds, and really get their kicks being in front of a new audience.  They say there’s nothing better than a bunch of enthusiastic participants!
  4. It helps us generate new business.  Let’s be absolutely honest, we’re not only doing this for the love!  People who meet us generally like us, and often ask us to help them with their challenges.  We’ve met a lot of new customers that way, including OCS, The Co-operative Bank and Air France KLM.

    We’re absolutely transparent about this point because it keeps us focussed on providing great learning events, rather than sneaky sales days!

Click here to explore our latest free events

Is your business ready for the ‘Teampreneurs’?


Today members of the Vmax Consulting team spent a fascinating morning working with the students and coaches of the Entrepreneurial Business Management degree at Northumbria University.

Based on ‘Tiimiakatemia’, an experiential learning philosophy developed and honed in Finland, this is a degree without lectures, exams, or defined boundaries.  Instead the students (or ‘Teampreneurs’) are building a real business, in the wild.  They are responsible for everything that is involved with their fledgling startups, with little in the way of directive guidance, but all the support they could possibly hope for.

In addition to the faculty support, the Teampreneurs are completely self-supporting. Collaboration and knowledge sharing is baked in from the outset, as this is the only way that their businesses will thrive.

What is intriguing to know is how businesses in the outside world will handle these budding entrepreneurs when (or perhaps if) they enter the traditional job market.  Will their entrepreneurial spirit be nurtured, or snuffed out in order to maintain the corporate status quo.

We can only hope that the wider world is open to the Teampreneurs’ new ideas and ethos.

Influencing others: Lessons from Reg Revans

Reg Revans, the father of Action Learning, contributed so much to our knowledge and understanding of the learning process and, I would contend, one of his most significant contributions was his Principle of Insufficient Mandate, which states that “those unable to change themselves are unable to change what goes on around them.”

This seemingly simple statement captures the very essence of influence.  If I desire to influence a change in somebody else’s behaviour then I must first examine my own behaviour and seek to understand how I should modify my behaviour to effect a change in theirs.  Like the very best of approaches – simple and yet highly effective.

I recall, many years ago, being asked by the CEO of a large manufacturing organisation to help him with the way in which his Board were operating, or, more specifically, not operating.  His request was quite simple: my Board are not working effectively as a team – can you work with them and help them to be more aligned, more cohesive and more focused on collaboration and performance.  My first question to him was, “What are you doing to encourage or give permission for their current behaviours?”.  He replied that I must have misunderstood his request for the issue was with them and not with him.  And so began a conversation that has been repeated many times through the intervening years.  Initially he could not see the fact that he was directly and indirectly influencing their behaviours and, in all likelihood, providing permission for them to operate in the ways that he deemed to be ineffective.

Through a series of conversations we explored the nature of the team and the way in which he influenced them thorough his words, his actions, and, very specifically in this case, by not challenging certain behavioural patterns.  He came to understand that by not challenging he was, in effect, giving permission for the continuance of the very behaviours that he sought my help in addressing.

And so the conversations turned from working with his team to working with him to help him to be more clear, more focussed and more consistent in his leadership style.  Changes were noticed very quickly by his team and they began to modify their behaviours in line with  his new behaviours and expectations which were articulated as much in actions as they were in words.

The CEO came to a deep and insightful understanding of Revan’s mandate – he modified his behaviours and, by doing so, influenced those round him to modify theirs.  The change was aligned, consistent and sustainable.  More importantly, it was personally owned and led by the CEO, not issued as a directive to others that would, with no doubt at all, resulted in compliance at best.