"Levelling Up The Playing Field"

The Wadenhoe Consultancy

January 2009

You will know and we know that talented people can be found in all parts of an organisation. However it is also clear that in many organisations there are some people who can be at a distinct disadvantage. This Newsletter is about liberating the potential of those people so that they can grow and change and their potential is not overlooked. It focuses on three areas:
  • Assessment of Leadership Potential
  • Networking
  • Communicating with Creativity and Passion
Assessment of Leadership Potential

In one of our recent studies following on from our research into ''whether excellent technical specialists can make excellent leaders'', we came upon an interesting observation. Although organisations were very keen to find potential amongst their specialists, many of their assessment / development centre activities, were using role-plays and case studies that were solely business-based.

This meant that potential leaders from the marketing department for example, who already had business degrees and MBAs, were not particularly challenged. However, some high potential candidates from a more technical specialisation (e.g. software developers or engineers), who didn't have an existing business background, were not performing so well.

We believe that it is important to run these exercises on a level playing field, otherwise true high potential candidates may be accidentally overlooked. Whilst the role-plays and case studies do need to be business based, the object of the exercise is not to test a candidate's business knowledge or how many "models" they can apply, but to see how they will naturally think and act in leadership situations.

To ensure that this happens, we design tailored exercises that test people's core transferable "thinking" and "doing" skills. The case study exercises involve problem analysis, creative thinking and decision-making. The role-play exercises are designed to test temperament and involve goal orientation / motivation, adaptability and emotional intelligence.

We have found that the ideal starting point is role profiling using our fast and effective RolescopeŽ process. From this we learn enough about the leadership context to create role-play and case study exercises that are appropriate for everyone.


Effective leaders are generally very good at networking and maintaining their important personal relationships. However, for many people this is not a natural style and does not come easily. So what can be done to level up the playing field?

The Wadenhoe Consultancy workshop covers three critical areas in achieving great networking results. Firstly, identifying exactly who should be included in the network by:
  • Clarifying areas of performance where effective networking is key to success.
  • Forming a clear picture of the extent of their current network.
  • Identifying areas of strength and weakness in the network.
  • Devising a plan for closing gaps between where they are and where they need to be.
Our workshops specifically address three key targets:
  • Internal Relationship Management: Essential in the context of internal ''customers'' and cross-border team-working.
  • External Relationship Management: Essential in the context of external customers and staying in touch with what is changing in the business context.
  • Learning and Development
We help participants to consider the importance and quality of each relationship, and how to maintain an internal-external balance.

Having developed their ideal Network Web, the second stage of the workshop identifies the qualities needed to grow it successfully. The Wadenhoe Consultancy uses creative and energising exercises to build confidence in:
  • Making a positive first impression
  • Building a two way rapport
  • Actively listening
  • Entering a conversation
  • Leaving a conversation
  • Building bridges for the future
The final stage of the programme is about maintaining and nurturing relationships over the medium and long term, avoiding the contact becoming contrived, and effectively managing the network database.

Communicating with Creativity and Passion

The ability to communicate with Creativity and Passion is often given labels like: ''Inspirational Leadership'' and put in the category that a person is either born with it or not. Not so! Certainly some people's natural style makes it easier for them than others, but it is a barrier that can be overcome by anyone with the drive to work at it.

The other misconception is that it only applies to senior leaders - No! It is about the ability to translate complex messages and information, in a way that people can understand, and this applies at all levels.

In our experience managers at any level can either do a reasonable job in passing a message ''down'' to their people, often by just repeating the same words as have been used to them - or they take the lead by thinking creatively about how best to get the information across, both in terms of Content, Style and Emotion.

The Wadenhoe Consultancy has broken this process down into three main elements:

Creative Thinking:
Using a range of practical, challenging and fun exercises we help people to broaden their options for communication in terms of the words they use - including practice in the use of storytelling and metaphors.

We then help them to consider the construction of their communication, combining techniques identified from some of the best real-life presentations and speeches with our own experience in communicating change.

Finally, we work on the emotional side of communicating - focusing on presentation techniques involving Voice, Body Language and Preparation.

Overall, our objective is to ensure that both the "words" and the "music" come together in a way that enables the listener to understand, accept and be motivated by what has been said.

Newsletter written by Ray Atkinson, 20/01/2009.

©2009 The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd.

For more information about our work in helping to create a level playing field please telephone 01865 339558 or email us at: info@wadenhoeconsultancy.com

The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd, Prama House, 267 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7HT
Tel: 01865 339558   Fax: 01865 339301   Email: info@wadenhoeconsultancy.com