Last week I had the privilege of sharing a stage with Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur, Chief Executive and author, as well as a wonderfully gifted speaker. The setting was a 2-day Merryck Mentor (a global team of experienced business leaders now mentoring key executives to trigger new perspectives and accelerate business impact) Masterclass and the theme, team-working. I had been invited to showcase the work of The Colour Works, and the role we play in developing better leadership and team-working.
Margaret opened the Masterclass with 45 minutes of brilliance, citing all kinds of fascinating psychological research, from the egg-laying performance of “teams” of “super chickens” to what is proving to be the perhaps counterintuitive “mortar” that binds teams together to enable them to excel – empathy, helpfulness, social connectedness, a flat structure with no “domineering” personalities, equal time for all. Her latest book “A Bigger Prize – why competition isn’t everything and how WE can do better” holds a lot of the information, whilst a new title is due out next May. Margaret, who is also a celebrated TED speaker, has recently been invited to speak at the Pentagon.
Having to follow Margaret, especially in front of an audience of very experienced ex-CEOs turned mentors of directors of major companies, was a daunting task. Even though I had walked this walk before and spoken to audiences of a similar gravitas, it still sent shivers down my spine and took a measure of self-talk to calm that internal dialogue that can sometimes inhibit our performance. So, all that aside, it was time to don the game face and do what I know I do best – inspire, motivate and translate leadership and team working theories into a meaningful learning experience.
Using the immediacy and power of the Insights Discovery model and my own leadership experience, I hit the spot. “You read the audience well and kept the energy levels high”, said one. “Your presentation style was brilliant”, another. “Being given the space to discuss what ‘trust’ really is was surprisingly impactful, I won’t forget that experience” yet another. But without doubt the one I’ll be savouring for a while was from Margaret Heffernan herself – “You did a terrific job with a tough audience – well done!”.
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