Oxford High Performance Leadership Programme
Head, ISF Waterloo International School
After the week-long programme in Oxford it isn’t just Belinda Yates’s own business practice that’s changed. She’s now holding sessions to pass on new skills to her colleagues – and even teaching techniques to pupils.
‘Since the programme I communicate differently with my board of directors,’ she says.
‘I take more of a lead and put my opinions across because I know I have something to contribute. Oxford has given me the confidence to step up.’
Belinda chose the programme at Oxford Saïd because of its range of expertise. ‘Often business schools focus on one specific area but Oxford had a much broader approach,’ she says. Elements of leadership explored during the programme included building relationships with colleagues, having difficult conversations and making high quality connections. There were coaching sessions and time to analyse and reflect on your own personality and your working team dynamics.
‘I was really surprised at how practical the programme was,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t just formal lectures or theory. They even gave us great conversational openers for particular situations.’
She also loved working with a diverse group of peers from the military, public, private and social sectors.
‘You hear other people’s challenges and find yourself helping them find their own answers. It dawned on me that it didn’t matter what industry we were in – we all had the same issues and struggles.’
Since the programme the participants in the group have stayed in touch. They email each other when they have solved problems they discussed and Belinda appreciates having an on-going peer group.
‘In my role here there is no one at my level. I work alone and have no one to ask or put ideas to. Although the other people on the programme had different backgrounds, we have each other to soundboard off. I didn’t expect to stay in touch but it’s a bonus.’ The programme also changed Belinda’s view of management. ‘I don’t think I realised how much the personal side of things affects an organisation,’ she says. ‘It has as much impact as the business and strategic aspect.’
Belinda has since put much more preparation into significant meetings, especially if she thinks they are going to be difficult for people.
She draws on new techniques to ensure the right time for meetings, not springing news on people, and giving people time to go home and think about what’s happened. Currently her school is going through a merger and Belinda is working on the transition plan.
‘I’ve taken everything I learned into account to make it successful. In the past I would have done it very differently.’
Belinda is also passing on her new techniques. When she returned from Oxford Belinda asked her teachers to draw an effective leader. Her teaching staff represents 48 different nations, and the drawings revealed the cultural differences. ‘It allowed my teachers to see that their colleagues have a different outlook on what education is,’ she says. ‘It gave them an understanding of how they work and the team now is much closer.’
She replicated the session on high quality interactions and says that teachers who used to sit in their own rooms to do their marking now come and have a conversation while making themselves a coffee. ‘The organisation works better if the team works better.’ And strategies on how to be good influencers have worked well too. ‘My teachers are selling what they are doing to parents so if they come across as positive and confident there is more buy-in from the parental group.’
Perhaps one of the most unexpected bonuses is the fact that Belinda has also found herself passing on tips to students doing their A-levels. ‘I’ve talked to them about how to have difficult conversations and told them what a good life-skill it is,’ she says. ‘It’s helped them with some of the things they have to talk to their parents about – like university choices. A couple of them asked me if this was how I approached difficult conversations and I said “It is now!”’
Sunday - Friday
11 - 16 November 2018
12 - 17 May 2019
(programme fee £8,400 plus accommodation £650)