Leaders need time and space to become great

One of the many values of the MD2MD model is that membership enables and encourages business leaders to take time out of their busy schedules regularly to put the day-to-day in context and look up at the bigger picture. Indeed, one member once said that membership would be worthwhile if we did nothing other than drag him out of his business for a day regularly. Whilst the speakers and business discussions were valuable, the majority of the value was simply in being away from the day to day hassle.

So, in some senses our whole model is about creating space and time. However, we also have an activity designed specifically to do so.  We call it our “retreat to advance.” Retreat in that the event has similarities to a religious retreat as it is about creating time and space for the business leader members of MD2MD to step back and contemplate their longer term plans – a complement to the continuous small step by small step improvement model we use in our normal meetings. We also call it an advance because it is about looking forward more than looking back. We do ask members to look at where they are now and how they got there, but only as context for the important questions of where they want to get to and how they plan to get there. Plus, we do so away from the day-to-day pressures in a conducive environment; one that provides space to reflect and develop thinking.

This, like everything in MD2MD, is a part of our process that has emerged from business experience and real world intuition as a useful and pragmatic approach to developing great leadership behaviours. As such, I was interested to read an article in the Harvard Business Review that seems to provide a neuroscientific basis for why this approach works.

In summary, the article suggests that, whilst positive social interactions and collaboration are a critical to a healthy workplace, it is often through reflection that ideas are crystallized and insights formed. We have our most innovative ideas when we’re letting the mind wander into our deep storehouse of memories, ideas, and emotions. The article suggests that we need to make a practice of turning away from the distractions of daily life to give our minds space to reflect, make new connections, and find meaning. The article goes on to suggest that, it is by creating space, time to remember the past, think about the future and see other perspectives, that we truly understand ourselves and create meaning from our experiences. Finally, it suggests we should run our businesses in similar ways to liberate the innovative potential of our staff too.

As always, the above is my personal, summarised interpretation.

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Chris Hobbs

Managing Director - Satellite Applications Catapult

"The challenge sessions with my peers always provide insight and actionable approaches to problems that vex me and other C-levels. MD2MD challenges you to be the best leader you can be and never disappoints. "
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Bob Bradley

Bob is a specialist in running high value added service businesses, having run five such businesses as General Manager, Managing Director or Chief Executive. His last employed role was as Chief Executive of a £16M, 200 person family owned business having previously been Chief Executive of an AIM listed company for which he raised £5M funding and which he grew from £4M to £12M in three years through two acquisitions and organic growth, and a corporate PLC subsidiary where he was Managing Director responsible for delivering £10M profit on £45M turnover through 450 staff.

Bob is now following a portfolio career providing entrepreneurial business leaders with mentoring and coaching around business leadership, business growth, merger integration and exit planning.

Core to his portfolio is MD2MD. Having experienced for himself the value of having a strong sounding board of fellow Managing Directors he founded MD2MD in 2004 to provide groups of business leaders with a confidential environment within which they can support and challenge each other to raise their game as leaders and by doing so improve the success of their organisation.

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