OE Cam was excited to host our first “Festival of Learning” on 8th October at the Lighterman in London’s vibrant King’s Cross.  We brought together a variety of L&D and HR professionals to learn more about “Leading with an Agile Mindset” and our approach aimed to refresh attendee’s thinking around development practices in their businesses.

For us, one of the main take-aways of the festival was the importance of creative time to expand thinking and incorporate new design approaches into internal learning activities. We discussed bringing the fun-side back into how we build learning opportunities and the importance of looking outside of our immediate environment for inspiration and ideas.

Attendees participated in an interactive carousel of activities to explore the four dimensions of an agile mindset:

  1. Ambi-Dextrous Thinking

This aspect of the carousel explored the often-opposing pressures that impact our leader’s decision-making, for example taking a long-term view while ensuring best practice in the present.  We explored the tendency for leaders to be swayed towards the direction of their natural preference and the taboo of leaders sharing their difficulties of getting the balance between the opposing pressures ‘right’.

OE Cam shared their developmental board game which is designed to be a safe and collaborative way to help leaders understand what it means to think in an ambi-dextrous way and how this is an important aspect of an agile mindset.  Ambi-Dextrous Thinking supports leaders to recognise, and then balance, different ways of responding to situations and challenges.  We utilise scenario-based learning to build an internalised framework allowing each thinking type and behaviour to be increased or decreased as necessary.

Those taking part in the activity discussed how quickly it got them sharing and talking about the challenges within their teams and businesses.  For more information, please email Toni Marshall at toni.marshall@oecam.com


2. Authenticity

The Authentic Leadership aspect of the session looked at: What is authentic leadership? Why it is beneficial for leaders and the business as a whole? and the developmental games that can be incorporated into learning activities to help leaders really understand their own leadership style and the impact this has on others.

This dimension provides leaders with the self-awareness to feel comfortable to be their true selves at work, while ensuring their behaviour creates the output they desire.  The impact of being another person (or metaphorically putting on a mask at work) is that it is tiring, uncomfortable and in some cases the leader does not like the person they are at work and this impacts on them and people around them.

We explored small, easily achievable, steps to becoming the best version of yourself at work, with the introduction of techniques to make what can seem like a difficult transition much more manageable.

For more information, please email Paolo Moscuzza at paolo.moscuzza@oecam.com


3. External Perspective

During this aspect of the carousel we explored OE Cam’s L&D activities to develop the openness and application of external ideas and perspectives.  This provides leaders with the motivation and capability to look beyond their current context to learn and apply different ideas or ways of working.  We build on our knowledge of Fredrickson’s “Broaden-and-Build” theory to help people overcome their ‘thinking archetypes’ and become more creative with a wider external perspective.

As our world expands, we become more flexible, innovative, and creative and are able to see solutions we would not normally see” (Barbara L. Fredrickson, 2004)

There was much discussion about the various ways that different organisations take an external perspective.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the attendees were on a spectrum – some did not look outside their organisation at all, some tracked only a few of their direct competitors and one organisation focused in-depth on the big innovators “we know Google & Apple as well as we know ourselves”.  However, this is not the broad perspective that Fredrickson is talking about.  We talked through an example where for one client OE Cam had facilitated a ‘virtual tour’ of diverse, totally unrelated businesses and the client subsequently went on to apply much of the learning in their own organisation.

In our view, it is the willingness to look far outside your own organisation and be open to learning from completely unrelated sectors that will bring the broaden-and-build theory to life and help to build an agile mindset for leaders.  For more information, please email Julie Brophy at julie.brophy@oecam.com


4. Continuous Learning

The agile leader is open to experiences that foster learning, even if negative. By employing the principles of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset principles, we explored the types of activities that OE Cam would use to hep leaders to firstly recognise and then evolve their thinking patterns that relate to learning.

We started by defining what it feels/look like to be ‘passive’ vs an ‘engaged’ learner.  Passive learners make their way through L&D programmes because they have been told to do so or they need to meet a minimum requirement.  Whereas agile ‘continuous learners’ proactively seek out learning through accepting challenges and create their own learning opportunities.

There was much debate around how learning, let alone continuous learning, can be seen as taxing and resource-exhausting.  We discussed how strands of continuous learning behaviour can be integrated into business-as-usual to improve learning retention and long-term changes in thinking and behaviour.

We concluded with practical application; what would participants take back to the workplace?  Greater awareness of the growth mindset within themselves meant that they could think about their own leadership style, their approach to giving feedback and create opportunities for their team to develop.  For more information, please email Mariam Mirza at mariam.mirza@oecam.com 


To learn more about OE Cam’s leadership development programmes, please contact Toni Marshall, Senior Business Psychologist and Head of OE Cam’s Leadership Development practice toni.marshall@oecam.com