IT is not only devotees of Britain’s Got Talent who are familiar with the term ‘Diversity’.
Never mind the street dance group of that name, winners of the TV show in 2009, it is Naked Leader’s (NL) second annual coaching conference which takes centre stage here.
Coaching for a Diverse Workforce was a topical theme for the 65 delegates who attended NL’s hugely successful event in London – among them, David Hare, former global PR Director at TNT and now freelance life-coach, trainer, blogger, journalist, writer (staff magazines and award entries) and editor.
Inspirational speakers including Estelle Brachlianoff (A Woman at the Top) and partially sighted Steph Cutler (Coaching for Disabled) had the audience spellbound with their insightful views delivered from the head and heart – both giving the same message – if you have a dream, then go for it, and that there is nothing wrong with you.
On the contrary, Steph insists her situation has enriched her life and remarkably, would have to think twice if she was offered her sight back.
Estelle is Director Northern Europe and UK, CEO Veolia Environment and could not be a better example of someone who has proved that you don’t have to be an athlete to vault hurdles, especially when it comes to businesswomen making an impact in the workplace.
Hers was an enthralling interview-style session considering the barriers and opportunities facing ambitious young women.
As well as Naked Leader founder David Taylor, who spoke of the challenges, choices and chance to make a difference around the subject of diversity, there were contributions from Ford Retail’s John Leathem, who spoke of A Coaching Culture in a Mixed Workforce, while coaching Guru Gavin Preston’s theme was A Coaching Experience.
The London spectacular was presented as a lively, informative and interactive action provoking event around, outcomes, coaching tips and motivation. Those present were able to leave with a lasting impression from hugely experienced speakers while being armed with the information needed to integrate that new-found knowledge into their own lives, teams and organisations.
For David Hare, the day was a fascinating and worthwhile experience for those in attendance, many of them Heads of Learning and Development in their respective companies.
And he says Naked Leader, rather like the aforementioned iconic dance troupe, put on a great show.
In particular the day highlighted that we are all unique as individuals and that businesses need to recognise this rather than just make allowances for it.
‘For me it was an excellent day and a mixture of reminders and light-bulb moments,’ says David. ‘As a coach and mind-set trainer I must always strive to have “unconditional positive regard” [a quote from Carl Rogers – psychologist] for everyone, whatever their values, class, nationality, disability, background etc.
‘In other words respecting/revering the dignity in everyone’s lives. We pay our respects to the dead, how about paying more respect to the living? Diversity need not be an issue/obstacle when you see dignity in everyday life.’
Steph’s positivity and full-on approach to embracing life, despite her circumstances, struck a chord with David who adds: ‘Steph reminded me that people can choose not to have a victim mind-set, even when seemingly terrible things happen to you.
‘It was a great example of re-framing’ – giving an event the meaning that serves you best.
‘Steph’s was a searingly honest story. She also showed me how a blind person can hold an audience rapt for 40 minutes and with no notes!’
Also speaking were a Generation Y panel of four young professionals – Ravi Chandarana, Rob Ivory, Olivia Muller and Hayley Whitehorn. The questions are often asked, are young people misunderstood in business and how can we understand their perspective? Essentially the foursome’s contribution gave the delegates a greater understanding about a young person’s world when they coach.
‘They demonstrated that they are better employees because of, not despite the individual challenges they have faced,’ continues David.
‘The obstacles they face have taught them resilience, problem-solving, flexibility etc. This was my “light-bulb moment”.
‘Steph also touched on this. Young people like that – the leaders of tomorrow – are good news for the future of society.’
So David’s overall thoughts on the day? ‘My wife is a primary school head teacher and she sent two teachers along who loved it,’ he continues.
‘It was interactive, engaging and as I’ve always loved the Naked Leader books, my objective was to see Naked Leader in action.
‘The atmosphere on the day was as I expected – lively, direct and friendly. There was plenty of debate on the tables and Naked Leader have even turned their famous Formula for Guaranteed Success into a jigsaw – that was a hugely entertaining interactive session’. Naked Leader clearly doesn’t run events where the attendees are talked at all day.
‘When you are self-employed and very busy with clients, it is hard to make time to invest a day in your own personal development, and this was worth every minute.’
What better endorsement than that?
Next year Naked Leader take on the biggest theme of all – Leadership That Makes and Saves You Money – How to Transform People into Profit. It’s on Tuesday 21 October 2014 at the same venue – The Victory Services Club in London.
Make sure you’re there so you won’t miss the great debate – ‘MBA’s are a waste of time’ and another selection of unmissable speakers. Also, check out other Naked Leader events too, here which take place throughout the year.
Just like in a talent contest, there will always be an outcome – so make sure it is YOU or your company that benefits!