Leadership Live 2023 – what a conference!


Leadership Live 2023 – what a conference from the Institute of Leadership! Inspiration, insights, practical takeaways and so much more … And I’m not kidding! The conference was hosted at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, where customer service was paramount and the rooms and facilities were fantastic.

The Institute of Leadership managed to provide an environment where the networking was fun, interesting and full of serendipity. The learning was continuous and the air full of expectation.

What a vibe!

First we were treated to the opening address from CEO John Mark Williams who reminded us that as leaders are job is to foster creativity. Challenging us to see the world and our roles differently, he was an inspiring MC asking insightful and challenging questions of the panel.

The first speaker was Paul Sloane, Author, Expert Speaker and Facilitator on Lateral Thinking and Innovation. He introduced us to the concept of innovation disconnect and explained the 5 reasons why innovation doesn’t happen in our organisations. They were:

  • You are too smart! You know what will work and what will not
  • Busy. You are too busy to take the time to be creative
  • You are focused elsewhere – innovation takes time
  • We are careful of our resources – innovation can cost more!
  • You are decisive – decisions have already been made

Paul reminded us that ideas are the lifeblood of the organisation, that culture is pervasive, and the need for experimentation of failure. His final statement? ‘Only do what only you can do’.

Bronwyn Williams, Economist, Futurist, Trend Analyst and Author of ‘The Future Starts Now’ was next. She reminded us that ‘what we think about the future is what we get’. She explained that the global population decline is really a global lack of optimism. Bronwyn worried us about an increasingly effective AI phenomenon called Cognitive Ergonomics where AI is effectively monitoring the brain – determining our thoughts.

The response to organisations taking an increasingly more autocratic control of remote workers have fuelled the trend of Minimum Effort Mondays! Bronwyn explained that the ‘winner takes it all, the loser standing small’ – she implored us to realise that there are huge opportunities at the edges. Her final statement? We should consider ‘trends as a business strategy’.

Before we moved on to Ad Davies, Head of Talent & Performance at GymShark, John Mark Williams rallied us with a call to ‘reframe life’. Ad provided a lively talk about lessons learnt from leading in sport and business. During his talk he shared several stories illustrating his main points and shared his own vulnerability – instantly demonstrating his key themes.

Ad reminded us of the importance of the environment that you are creating. He admonished us to trust our people by giving up control, to set behavioural standards and to consider the impact that you have on how people think and feel. His final statement? ‘We’re all making it up, so make it up good’.

The day’s theme ‘Future Readiness’, was explored more deeply with the panel expertly hosted by John Mark Williams.

Following lunch and a spot of networking, were the workshops. Delegates were able to choose 3 workshops from the following:

  • John Sills – The Human Experience: How leaders can create a truly customer-led culture
  • Jo Keeler – Enabling Open and Effective Communications for Managers & Teams
  • Rameez Kaleem – Build a culture of trust through pay transparency, salary benchmarking, and different approaches to pay progression
  • Dr. Maria Katsarou-Makin – Do High-Performing Teams really exist?
  • Micael Johnstone & John Featherby – Exploring the purpose-led company: lessons from experience
  • Doug Strycharczyk – Mental Toughness – Is This Your Leadership Superpower?
  • Judith Germain – How to engage and retain future leaders

My definition of future leaders included new leaders and experienced leaders who were transitioning into new roles. My workshop focused on the six decisions that decisive leaders make, how enabling our leaders and future leaders to understand and demonstrate their impact will retain and engage them. This is how we reduce employee turnover and grow leaders that can make the difference that our organisations need. The workshop was interactive, practical and I’m told fascinating!

“I can definitely say that I left feeling inspired. The insight into the 6 decisions we make as leaders was a great identifier and something I have been reflecting on since”.

Jack Smith, Agilitas IT Solutions Ltd

It was also great to receive such wonderful gifts (a beautiful glass 75 Years memento and delicious Yumma Candy!) from The Institute of Leadership for delivering my workshop: How to engage and retain future leaders.

The conference finished with a final address from John Mark Williams and a reminder to pick up our free copy of Charles Hampden-Turner’s book, ‘Ideas from the Edge‘. Then a drinks reception and a fun networking dinner, meeting and enjoying the company of the other attendees.

I’m looking forward to reading his book and Dr. Maria Katsarou-Makin‘s book, ‘Group Dyna-Mix – Investigating team dynamics, from leaders to corporate gatekeepers’. 

I can’t wait for next year’s conference! See you there?