Develop or reinvigorate leadership skills with corporate retreats available on request
There is no shortage of methods and means to understand and improve your leadership skills and corporate retreats come in many forms. However, this four day overseas leadership retreat using the vehicle of photography is something very different. In a variety of locations, leaders will encounter tailored development activities designed to strengthen their skill set.
Photography is stimulating, enjoyable and gives a tangible result. It also provides a micro version of the many challenges that business leaders face.
By identifying core leadership traits and mapping these across to what a photographer experiences in the field draws a range of a parallels.
These mirrored experiences have been crafted into practical activities which are exciting and challenging. Here are some of the crossover points:
Step back and look at the full picture.
Use different lenses to change your perspective.
Stay attentive and curious.
Observe what is really in front of you.
Effectively mediate to realise your vision.
Ultimately the retreat programme centres on the person not only the leader, operating across several levels. The 4 day programme will stimulate and recharge, hopefully embedding new perspectives. Read on for the areas we’ve identified for development.
Day 1: Self Awareness and Empathy
Tangible advantages of emotional intelligence in leadership:
Fewer days lost to employee sickness.
Reduces team member burn out.
Boosts in productivity.
Effective leaders are attuned to who they are. They are in touch with their strengths and weaknesses, and have mastered the art of knowing when to be what and to whom. Self-awareness is fundamental to influencing, and visionary leaders are great at seeing themselves as those they lead, see them.
Most leaders are thought to be visionaries because they seem to have the uncanny ability to unite others behind their vision. What makes these individuals adept in their leadership is not charm, although some do have it, but rather, their self-awareness. A skillset that be can be developed.
Corporate retreats focus:
Improving your verbal and non-verbal communication as you observe and interact with people who don’t speak your language.
Adapting your communication style to work well with people from around the world who may not share your native language.
The camera can also be an extension of the consumer within us. We desire a great photo, but with only this mindset, we are doing ourselves a disservice. By objectifying a location or scene only for an image we are both denying the experience of the place, and insight into how our photography may make a person feel. Understanding more about what we are looking at and how our camera impacts it will lead to more rewarding photography in the long run.
Not all photographs need messages, but every element within an image carries meaning and what you don’t want as an image maker is for unintended meaning to seep into your photography. Your choice of framing, perspective, medium (black and white or colour) aspect ratio, colour palette, tilt or straight framing and sequencing of photos, all count towards communicating both your sensibilities and also what you saying about the subject or scene. These messages become especially important when you are photographing people. How will they be perceived; their status, intelligence, autonomy, sense of worth? Your messaging of these aspects will also reflect back on you, if your intended visual message doesn’t resonate with your own core values.
Day 2: Innovation
Tangible advantages of innovation for companies:
Creates sustainable employee satisfaction.
Identifies and meets customer needs.
‘Innovation cultures are hard to create and sustain. It begins with leadership’.
Most executives are generally disappointed in their ability to stimulate innovation and not confident about how to get results. What explains the gap between the leaders’ aspirations and execution?
Management structures and processes that many leaders use to encourage it are important, but not sufficient. People and corporate culture are the most important drivers and barriers of innovation.
Corporate retreats focus:
Through project planning, participants will integrate hard and soft skilled thinking.
To enable first hand experience of balancing the parameters of experimentation and delivery.
When we are inspired and find something new to us, something surprising and engaging, the realisation of its worth can mean that we hold onto the initial frame of the idea, both metaphorically and also in the camera composition you have chosen. Instead you should use it as a starting point. In photography, seeing a scene of interest can often mean framing it from the first position you saw it, but this is only the springboard to creating an interesting or great photograph. You have to strip away to discover the essence of that interest, the core of the idea and that means understanding for yourself why you like, what you see, and what you need to keep in there to show others that thought. The camera frame is your way of editing out the parts that are white noise. So your first position discovering the idea is not necessarily the best to make a photograph from, you have to move your feet and reposition yourself.
Think of framing as your intellectual take on the scene or set-up in front of you. What do your want to say, what interests you about it, what would you like others to see that you are looking at? Can you distill a busy location into visual ideas. Alternatively your composition is the camera’s frame to compose and bring those answered questions to realisation.
This is really a core component of field photography. You have the sense you’ve found something, you’ve framed your (visual)idea and have your composition, but taking time to finesse a compositional frame is first base, what would make it even better? Think about what added extra would elevate it. As you pause to look, other factors will come into play so by committing to the composition you are allowing these ideas to strengthen it. If you’ve chosen your spot well, that dynamic element you need to complete the image will eventually enter the frame.
Day 3: Inclusive leadership and Diversity
The best and most influential leaders are fully aware of the multiple cultures within which they are embedded, can sense when change is required, and can deftly influence the process. They set new cultures in motion and imprint values and assumptions that persist for decades. They can also leverage the unique attributes of each person in the workplace with the goal of enhancing overall performance.
Tangible advantages for companies:
Higher team retention rate and cost savings.
Better services to clients, customers and service users.
Better teamwork and motivation to go the extra mile.
The traits of an inclusive leader:
Collaborates effectively with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Nurtures and embraces differing perspectives to make better decisions.
Is curious about how our different backgrounds affect us at work, rather than pretending they don’t affect us.
Recognises we all have biases, and works to grow past them.
Has a curiosity about others.
Shows a visible commitment to diversity.
Values non sector skills and alternative thought processing.
Corporate retreats focus:
To develop understanding of individual perspectives and to foster change on the pathway to inclusive leadership.
To meet this competency leaders should ask themselves: Do I have a diverse team to help me to see things from a range of perspectives? Do I consider the wider strategic goals of the organisation when making decisions? To get to that stage you have to be aware of your own limitations, be curious about others and be able to shift perspective when required.
What you don’t want to be is Alfred Krupp sitting down for a portrait with Arnold Newman with no self awareness and thinking you are on the same page. (Krupp was central to the Nazi war machine and Newman photographed him to look evil, unbeknown to Krupp).
For example, choosing to produce a series of photographs which relate to global goals on education and gender equality, you are both setting out your own value system but also through the composition of the photographs declaring how you interpret those issues and your connection to them. Is it an objective or subjective response that you are offering the viewer. Do your photographs reflect your real engagement with the subject.
When you arrive at a location do you respond to subjects that personally connect with you, or do you instead take an objective view that the scene could be valuable for viewers. Your visual perspective is your value system, reflecting your pre-occupations. Do you see the elderly couple embracing on the street or are you more interested in the pile of rubbish left on the corner. Both have value to communicate a sense of place but one offers a stronger message and more powerful photograph. If you want your audience to truly value your photography you need to work out what your perspective is. If you are concerned only with noticing rubbish then ask yourself why that is. Are there more universal stories to be told, are you missing the really interesting things in front of you?
Day 4: Culture
The best and most influential leaders are fully aware of the multiple cultures within which they are embedded, can sense when change is required, and can deftly influence the process. They set new cultures in motion and imprint values and assumptions that persist for decades.
Tangible advantages for companies:
Improved teamwork, engagement, communication, trust, and sense of belonging.
Improved execution, external focus – achievement driven & goal focused.
Improved operational efficiency, reduced conflict, and greater civic mindedness.
Corporate retreats focus:
To facilitate thinking about what culture is.
To give participants through a photo exercise, the tools to bring in to light.
To request a detailed programme brochure including accommodation details, please get in touch:
‘Empathy is good, but it must be combined with constructive action to have real impact.’
‘Mindfulness, selflessness and compassion are the three key traits’
“Leadership has many voices. You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else.”
‘Over the past 100 years, management innovation, more than any other kind of innovation, has allowed companies to cross new performance thresholds’
‘Innovation in management principles and processes can create long-lasting advantages and produce dramatic shifts in competitive position’.
Retreat Learning Outcomes:
Deepen your understanding of your strengths.
Reconnect with your core values and your perspective.
Improve your verbal and non-verbal communication as you observe and interact with people who don’t speak your language.
‘Inclusivity comes before diversity’.
‘You have to be inclusive to be able to recruit for diversity’.
You will also:
Refill your energy tank as you experience and connect with nature.
Learn from others on how they perceive and creatively react to situations and environments.
Slow down to absorb the now rather than urge to move on to the next thing.
Switch off from your digital dependency for the day, improve focus, and limit the internal chatter in the head.
Unlock your own brain-body connection to become a more efficient decision-maker.
Achieve photographic proficiency.
Questions the retreat poses:
What surprises will I encounter?
How will I capture them creatively?
How will I face my fears more productively?
‘Leading with culture may be among the few sources of sustainable competitive advantage left to companies today. Successful leaders will stop regarding culture with frustration and instead use it as a fundamental management tool’.
‘Culture appears to most directly affect employee engagement and motivation.’
‘Engagement and customer orientation are stronger when employees are in close agreement about the culture’s characteristics’.