Leading Learning in a Changed World Takeaways


In December 2021, HPC sponsored and contributed to the panel discussion during our virtual masterclass: Leading Learning in a Changed World.


Virtual audiences dialled in to listen to event keynotes, which were given by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Daniel Pink and Psychologist, Author and Entrepreneur, Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. This was followed by a panel discussion between Fiona Claridge, Client Director at HPC, Elaine McGleenan, Director of Learning and Organisational Development at KPMG and Aidan Lawrence, Learning and Organisation Development Director at Hewlett-Packard.




Many key themes emerged around ‘motivating and developing employees to ensure they have the ability to grow and adapt their skillset to remain employable throughout their working life.’


As you can imagine, Daniel and Tomas transferred such expert knowledge, and the engaging panel discussion generated much debate. Members of the HPC team have reflected and put together their key takeaways from the event:


Takeaway # 1 | The Importance of Small Steps

Daniel Pink said: “When you want to increase your impact, then think small. Just as when you start running, you don’t start with a marathon. You start by running shorter distances. So, next time you are stuck at work, ask yourself: 'What one small thing can I do to keep moving, and do it.' Then wake up the next morning and again do one small thing to keep achieving progress.”


This concept is what stood out for HPC Facilitator and Coach, Jenny McConnell
“My takeaway was Dan Pink’s emphasis on small steps. Rather than setting ‘BHAGs’ (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), keep everyone in your team and organisation focused on the small steps and celebrating the small wins. Over time, these small steps will amount to something great and people will be all the more connected as a result.”



Takeaway # 2 | Focus on behaviours and awareness of ‘flaws’

HPC Facilitator, Executive and Team Coach, Deirdre Foley reflects on the areas that stood out for her during Tomas’ presentation:


“Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic gave a great thought-provoking talk, which really focused on whether leaders were born or made, and the implications for leadership and talent development initiatives. His conclusion, of course, was that leaders could be developed but he had an interesting perspective about focusing on the behaviours rather than the timing of interventions.


He felt quite strongly that the past focus on strength building was not useful and that instead we need leaders to be aware of and develop the ‘flaws’ in their leadership style. He was not comfortable with using the word ‘opportunities’ either but wanted them called out as ‘flaws’. I was curious about the use of the word ‘flaws’ as it implied there was a perfect leader.”

Takeaway # 3 | Experimenting with “Why?”

HPC Managing Director, David Storrs felt that Dan Pink’s suggestion about the different ways we can begin to experiment in 2022 was fascinating.


“The really powerful one for me was his suggestion to have two fewer conversations per week about “How?” i.e. How are we going to do something? Instead of “How?” we should substitute it with “Why?” The thinking here is that “Why?” is the largest learning tool we have at our disposal. This takes us back to Simon Sinek and starting with ‘why’ and engaging with our purpose or the organisation’s purpose. But at a very tactical level, switching two conversations per week from “How?” to “Why?” can really help us focus on activities that matter. 2021 became the year of ‘no meetings days’ for many companies.


Perhaps this is a reflection of how technology has enabled us to collaborate and multi-task and consequently become over-committed. In 2022, I will work on the ‘Why?’ in the expectation we will make more progress from doing the most valuable activities better and drop the less valuable activities.”



Takeaway # 4 | Leadership Effectiveness

HPC Client Director and event panellist, Fiona Claridge has admired Tomas’ work for a number of years and believes “his consistency in beliefs, thinking and robust scientific approach has got my attention since he intrigued me with the phrase ‘the dark side of leadership’. Here she shares her standout themes from his presentation: “It is clear that we can certainly define traits that are correlated to predictors of strong leadership e.g. intelligence, empathy etc and we can also identify these traits early in childhood - with parents and school systems around the world seeking to focus on these to produce or build on the naturally predisposed.


"However, we are still far too focused on leadership selection and emergence and not spending enough effort on leadership effectiveness. Effectiveness is harder to study, coupled with the fact that our natural impacts decrease significantly on effectiveness. Effectiveness comes from picking people with some measured potential for leadership and assessing if they are willing to change, be coached and motivated. It is then that we can focus on their development.” 



Takeaway # 5 | Take time out
HPC Facilitator, Executive and Team Coach, Deirdre Foley was also fascinated by Dan Pink insistence on taking proper time out for breaks:


“I’ve a big interest in mental toughness and resilience and was really struck by the research he referred to from Denmark – where average scores on standardised school tests reduced for every hour later in the day that students took the exams. However, the difference in scores could be eliminated if students had a drink, a snack and took 15 minutes of exercise, preferably outdoors and with others. This really resonated with me as I’m a big fan of lunchtime runs and particularly when I arrange to meet up with family or friends for a chat while we run!”



The Final Word

The event gave us an exclusive insight into the experience and advice of Daniel and Tomas - two very esteemed experts in the field of behavioural change and people development as well as the individual perspectives of our panel.



Huge thanks to Mary Barr of the IITD and our external suppliers who organised the event and ensured it ran smoothly; event sponsor HPC; compere Audrey Carville; panellists Fiona Claridge at HPC, Elaine McGleenan at KPMG and Aidan Lawrence at Hewlett-Packard. Finally, thank you to our members who continue to support us and make the IITD events as lively and engaging as possible.




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