Articles Tagged with

senior leadership teams

Blog

Adjusting to the next normal

What was that about the ‘new normal’ we thought or hoped we might be moving towards? It was just the end of COVID we were hoping for, wasn’t it? On the back of 2020, we were all sure that 2021 was going to be a new start, then when that didn’t work out, perhaps 2022 was going to be the year. Funny how that worked out.

It feels like the world as we knew it has gone for a long time. COVID hasn’t gone away. It might not be as a serious disease as it was, but a lot of us are still getting it and it’s making us feel under par for a while. The cost of living, taxes, energy and fuel prices are shooting up with no end in sight and then, of course, there’s the war in Ukraine with all the massive uncertainties that introduces.

Throw in a couple of personal worries, the friend with a cancer diagnosis and the offspring being less settled in their lives than they were and…..

I have been reflecting and wondering, how to be in all of this. Acceptance feels like the first thing – there’s only so much I can do to change anything. Someone has pointed out that stress = expectations – reality so I’m going to lower my expectations of how much certainty I can find and how easy life will be over the next couple of years. This is going to be the new normal. Perhaps our joys and the things we appreciate will come in small ways, that sunset, the arrival of spring, trying a new recipe, making contact with an old friend, taking in a refugee.

We need to recognise the effect all this has on us as well though. The latest issue of Raconteur (14th March) had an article suggesting that more people are looking to take a sabbatical on the back of a hard two years, stress, burnout and the need to switch off, recharge and get work and life back into balance. If you don’t have time, or won’t get the support from work for a full sabbatical, why not think about coming on one of our five-day retreats (over three months)? They are an ideal opportunity to take some time for yourself and focus on what’s really important.

For more information please get in touch https://thenextchapter.guru/get-in-touch/

Blog

Ways to deal with anxiety

I’m wondering when we last faced such a conflation of causes of fear and anxiety. We’ve had two years of the pandemic and while the acute effects are past for the time being there are still many cases of COVID with people not being able to work because they are ill. Then for businesses, there is the effect of Brexit on the ease of doing business, higher taxes, changes to patterns of working and many employees are choosing a hybrid model which some managers find difficult. Affecting both business and individuals are higher and more volatile energy prices. We will all start to feel the effect of an increased cost of living. Some may have been affected by extreme weather events caused by climate change. And on top of all of that comes a war in Ukraine. The biggest factor in all of this is that a lot of it is beyond our control.

It is also very easy to focus on ourselves and how other people behave in very difficult circumstances can be enormously inspiring. We’ve all been moved by the many stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Such stories enable me to find courage.

What else can we do to prevent ourselves from being overwhelmed by anxiety?

  • Being disciplined in our use of social media. The constant stream of news can be very addictive, and doom scrolling doesn’t help. There are plenty of people catastrophising which is only likely to increase our anxiety.
  • Check our sources of information especially at a time when there is plenty of misinformation on all kinds of topics.
  • Routines can also help. During lockdowns I’m sure I was not alone in finding that daily and weekly routines gave me a structure which helped me get through, for example, making sure I took breaks and went outside.
  • Keeping a sense of perspective. One of the things that can help with this is gratitude practice. Thinking of at least three things to be grateful for before going to sleep makes for a much better night and reminds us of all that is positive in our lives.
  • Mindfulness. How this works when it comes to anxiety is that we need to stop and observe ourselves and how we’re feeling to help us manage our feelings. Mindfulness creates a gap between feeling and responding and stops us from just reacting in a way which might not help.
  • Look for a way to get involved, especially in the Ukrainian situation. There is no shortage of charities who need money, clothes or food which they are transporting to Ukraine to support the people there.
  • Random acts of kindness can change our mindset and make a difference to others.
  • Exercise. There is plenty of evidence that shows that exercise is a very good way of dealing with anxiety.
  • Talk to someone. Stay connected, don’t get isolated, don’t withdraw. Keep in touch with your family and friends and if you need professional help don’t be afraid to admit that you need help. There is no shame in feeling anxious, especially now.

We’re here to talk if you’d like to get in touch.

Blog

Where do we find hope for the future?

Sometimes I wake up with an enormous sense of hope despite all that we have been through, the disruption of Brexit, the doom and gloom of the virus, and now the war in Ukraine. What is fuelling that?

  • The way in which people are responding to the war. At a global level, so many countries and organisations have come together not only to condemn what is happening but also to do whatever they can to support the Ukrainians. Have we ever had such a unified response to an outrage like this? At the same time, let’s not forget or condemn ordinary Russians who are also caught up in this and who are as shocked as we are.
  • The inspiring example of ordinary people and their courage as well as leaders like Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • A sense that as a result of the pandemic, we have been forced into new perspectives, different behaviour patterns that we might have previously resisted but which have led to changes in lifestyle which we are now enjoying.  The tectonic plates have shifted and when that happens there are opportunities for something new to emerge. Businesses are allowing staff to choose how and where they want to work.
  • There seems to be a real shift in a commitment to do something about climate change. More and more people are seeing an opportunity to do something and are taking action.
  • Perhaps what underpins all of this is a growing sense that we need find purpose in what we do, that we can choose how to respond, choose what action to take in an uncertain world.

I know there are so many difficulties that have to be confronted and I don’t want to sound too Pollyanna-ish. What we can do is look to see what new patterns are emerging and make the most of the new opportunities that are presenting themselves to businesses, relationships and the way we want to live. Someone has pointed out that 30 years of mayhem, pillage and murder in Italy gave rise to the Renaissance, 500 years of stability in Switzerland produced insurance and the cuckoo clock (sorry Switzerland!). What do we want to see in our world? How can we make it happen?

Blog

What to think? What to feel?

We’re living in momentous times. I noticed that the invasion of Ukraine evoked feelings very similar to the announcement of the first lockdown or the results of the Brexit referendum. It feels like something fundamental has changed. My first reaction was that of shock, that something like war in Ukraine could actually happen and on our doorstep. I then felt very confused about what else I felt and whether there was something I should feel.

Scrolling through Twitter showed a variety of reactions from predictions of World War 3 breaking out and others pleading with them to dial down the temperature for the sake of their anxiety. I could identify with that. I was talking to a Ukrainian and felt so helpless when all I could offer is emotional support.

For me, it has highlighted the difficulty of accessing and acknowledging our feelings. Personally, on the one hand, it’s been a great week with a business opportunity that could make a huge difference to our business, but on the other hand, I have almost felt guilty about how happy that has made me feel with everything else going on.

Acknowledging and articulating our feelings is an important way of looking after ourselves simply because it makes us listen to ourselves and if we wait long enough, to hear our deepest anxieties and longings. The psychologist Susan David has some excellent advice about dealing with our feelings and I highly recommend her TED talk https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage

She makes the point that being emotionally agile as opposed to emotionally rigid, as well as aware and accurate with our feelings enables us to take the right action, action which is supported by our values. For many of us, core values act as the anchor in our lives, and we need to remind ourselves what really matters to us.

I’ve been introduced to a mindfulness exercise that I find helpful in grounding myself and getting in touch with my feelings. It involves going outside, looking around and asking the following questions:

What do I see? (look for four things)

What do I hear? (listen for three things)

What do I feel? (Find two feelings)

What do I see? (look for three things)

What do I hear? (listen for two things)

What do I feel? (Find one feeling)

What are your feelings leading you to do?

Please get in touch if this has sparked something or you’d like to find out more about Next Chapter Retreats.

Blog

What is Wellness?

Wellness is a word that’s on everyone’s lips and everyone’s mind these days, but what is it really? Why do we seem so obsessed with it? Why is it that tech companies seem able to sell us any number of apps and gadgets to measure every aspect of our physiological function? Is it the sense we have when everything is going well, as well as when we’re physically healthy? Can we have a sense of wellness when times are tough?

At its most basic and as defined by the WHO it is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The Global Wellness Institute adds three more dimensions, emotional, spiritual, including purpose, and environmental and those make sense too.

Most of us have heard of the psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. For anyone who needs a reminder, it’s a triangle with our basic physiological needs at the bottom, then safety needs, love and belonging next, and then self-esteem. The last two are the Californian sounding ‘self-actualisation’ which is to do with our growth needs, wanting to achieve our full potential as human beings, doing the best that we’re capable of doing. Later Maslow added transcendence, what brings the individual “peak experiences” in which they transcend their own personal concerns and see from a higher perspective. These experiences often bring strong positive emotions like joy, peace, and a well-developed sense of awareness 

I suspect this is where our interest in wellness comes in. Most of us have our basic needs met, though it’s not a case that they don’t bother us anymore.

Interestingly, much of the advice on wellness seems to focus on those basic needs, healthy food, exercise, sleep and they challenge us too. But there’s something more that keeps us looking, keeps us searching for that something that is going to unlock our best selves.

Bearing in mind that a lot of the time, life is tough one way or another, especially at the moment, how do we cultivate that sense of wellness or wellbeing? How do we concentrate on the upper levels of wellbeing? This requires us to embrace being proactive in pursuing wellness, preventative action, maintenance, taking individual responsibility and ultimately, thriving. For me, when I’ve got the basics in place, peace of mind is a large part, knowing that I can meet the challenges that come my way.

How do you pursue wellness and is it working? What are you missing? If what you need is some preventative action, a reset on your wellness, or starting to focus on your needs for growth, one of our retreats might be exactly what you need.

Blog

Here we go again?

‘Oh no, here we go again,’ I’ve caught myself thinking this last week in response to the news about another variant. But are we in the same place? No, we’ve got vaccines and we’ve got learning about how we’ve already handled the virus, but it still injects another wave of uncertainty into our lives. What about Christmas? We’ve made the decision not to travel after mid-December to give the Christmas we didn’t have last year the best chance.

So we’re making some concessions to Omicron and being sensible, but I can’t deny a degree of anxiety about all the retreats we’ve got planned next year. That’s got me thinking, what do I bring to this stage of the pandemic adventure to get me through? I wrote last week about the need to look back, to recognise our achievements and successes and that’s certainly a good place to start.

Then there are all those old-fashioned virtues that are not always prominent on Instagram – determination, perseverance, patience, perspective, not giving up. I sometimes torture myself by asking myself if we shouldn’t be building our business faster. Maybe it’s just not possible in the current climate.

But maybe as you start to look inside yourself to find what you bring and what you have to offer to all the people who depend on you – staff, clients, suppliers, family, friends, you find you’re running on empty and the possibility of getting away for a break is rapidly fading. We know that one of our retreats would be ideal to help you recharge the batteries and find the resources to keep going.

It’s our intention to keep running in-person retreats as far as possible, so please keep in touch and watch this space for what’s coming up. Our ‘From Burnout to Flourishing’ retreat in February could be just what you need.

Blog

Looking back

I find it very easy to be constantly looking to the future and either being excited about the possibilities or anxious about how much still needs to be done. What I don’t do nearly enough is look back and reflect on all that’s gone well and been successful. We all need to do that after the last two years that have been tough on us all one way or another.

We’ve seen so many certainties swept away, whether of being able to plan holidays, seeing people who’re important to us, pressures on our families, our businesses either tanking or flying and now not knowing what on earth to do about our staff who seem to have developed minds of their own during lockdown!

When I look back, I’m amused at the confidence and optimism with which we started a business running retreats a few months before a pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, I blithely proclaimed on LinkedIn that I wanted to live boldly and courageously and to have adventures, big and small. Be careful what you wish for, you’re probably thinking.

Perhaps I was more prescient than I knew. It was an adventure all right, a big one. I remember being inspired by something I saw on social media encouraging us to come out of lockdown better than we went in. Well, that was the first lockdown – if only we knew there would be a second and a third or more, depending what part of the country you live in. The enthusiasm for Joe Wicks wore off and we probably just got fatter!

I certainly needed courage. Like so many other businesses we tried to pivot (that much-overused word of 2020!) online, but how do you replicate a fabulous hotel, time, space, relaxation, switching off on a webinar with the kids running in and out in the background and the cat walking over the keyboard? We realised it was a non-starter.

However, there was plenty we could do. Build our brand, community, marketing assets and team, which all paid off once we could start in-person retreats. Now we’re beginning to see the fruits of our labours – people are coming to us wanting to partner with us, interview us on their podcasts and even an approach from someone in the US wanting us to run a retreat for them – before Christmas! Yes, I think I can and should feel proud.

But before you get into all the busyness and froth of Christmas and gearing up for 2022, what about you? How are you feeling about it all and where has it left you? What are you grateful for? What have been the successes? How about a little celebration, or at the least, a modest patting yourself on the back?

Blog

Checking in with your Teams

What’s the state of your senior management team? Burnt out? Languishing or flourishing? If they’re not flourishing, you’re not getting the best from them. Have you got people you’re worried about losing? Is your senior team motivating the staff effectively? Why not think about investing in your team with a retreat? We can tailor these to your needs but what we have found works well is two days and two nights in a good hotel with a combination of structured activities, discussion and goal setting.

We’ve been running team retreats for some years now. What is a team retreat you may be asking yourself? Isn’t that just a new way of describing a strategy away day? Which teams are retreats aimed at?

Firstly, to answer the strategy away day question. In our experience, strategy away days are very hard work, crammed morning to dusk with PowerPoint presentations, trying to move everyone in the right direction, discussions and action plans (which are rarely actioned!). Our retreats are designed to give people the opportunity to step back, slow down, have time to reflect and think, find out what the real questions are, address the things that really matter both for the individuals and the business…

On the question of which teams, we’d say that where much value lies is in working with senior teams, those that report to the CEO/MD. At the moment, we’re finding that many people in these positions have been adversely affected by lockdowns and working from home. They have taken to working long hours and working in unproductive ways which have diminished their energy and contribution. What’s worse is that it’s happened slowly and unnoticeably to the point where burnout and languishing are ‘normal’ ways of being.

Not only that, but they have been cut off from each other. Of course, there have been the endless Zoom meetings, which at the time were certainly better than nothing, but now that we’re meeting face-to-face it makes us realise how much we’ve missed. Senior management teams have become quite dislocated and disconnected from each other, operating at a transactional level rather than in an engaged committed way which would be required of them.

At a recent team retreat we ran, we gave people the opportunity to say how they were really, rather than the conventional ‘fine’ as the retreats offer a combination of reflection and discussion both at a personal and at a business level. They valued being able to be honest which paved the way for further openness about issues that needed to be addressed. Retreats are a great opportunity for the team to spot the gaps, see what’s not working and start to sort it out there and then, an opportunity to go below the surface and work out what the real issues are.

What has also emerged is the extent to which company cultures have been damaged by lockdowns and working from home. Teams have been able to point to aspects of the culture which have enabled them to perform at their best and then followed up with the observation that these conditions existed before the pandemic. Many people are realising that cultures are having to be rebuilt. Retreats offer the opportunity for senior management teams to reconnect in order to do this.

What teams find difficult but also very valuable is being able to slow down and reflect. Our retreats offer time and space in an environment which promotes relaxation, being able to  connect with others in the outdoors for example. We heavily discourage any looking at emails or business phone calls and while it’s hard to switch off initially, gradually people are grateful for being able to go off-grid for a few hours. One of our recent retreat participants had this to say https://youtu.be/NBYTP9XWnVY

We have one team that we have worked with for four years and we have seen members of the team come and go and those that have stayed gain in experience and insight. They know exactly what is on offer at each retreat and look forward to it and value it immensely. Their MD invests in it as he has seen the effect on the business: retention and development of valued staff, increased understanding of what the business is trying to achieve and how they can contribute. Over and over again, We have seen the motivational effect of this investment. 

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google
Spotify
Consent to display content from Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from Sound
Cart Overview