Senior leaders to experience the impact that the natural environment has on learning

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Written on 23 April 2015 in News
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Many leaders state that in order for them to learn and develop they need time and space away from the office for reflection – something that often seems unattainable. The most effective place for learning is in an environment that is unusual and exciting - creating long-lasting memories and ensuring that learning sticks

Senior leaders from global businesses are travelling to Morocco this week for an expedition with the aim of demonstrating how inspirational and challenging environments can have a significant impact on the effectiveness and depth of learning.

Delegates are trekking for six hours a day, far from the regular tourist trail, amongst ranges with stark peaks, deep gorges and remote Berber villages. But it is not all about pushing themselves physically. They will each receive in-depth, robust one-to-one coaching that will enable them to reflect on their own leadership style as well as their challenges and aspirations.

Ruth Moody, managing director of Farscape Development, said: “A journey like this is challenging – physically and emotionally. This will enable the delegates to learn about their personal impact and responses when under pressure. But it also provides isolation and space away from the demands of the office, where they can reflect on the important questions and issues within their business. This, combined with time spent discussing challenges and ideas with other business leaders, creates a powerful learning experience that will deliver long-lasting and meaningful change.

“The expedition will show the importance of leaders having space for reflection, away from the normal workplace where their thinking will be challenged. It should also enable our delegates to see how vulnerability and self-compassion is a route into creativity, innovation and change for businesses.”

Many leaders state that in order for them to learn and develop they need time and space away from the office for reflection – something that often seems unattainable. The most effective place for learning is in an environment that is unusual and exciting - creating long-lasting memories and ensuring that learning sticks. All too often classroom training is not memorable; often the most memorable learning happens in the outdoors.

Farscape Development knows that learning in the outdoors is hugely beneficial; knowledge that is underpinned by years of research in this field. Kaplan’s (1995) Attention Restoration Theory explains that nature has the capacity to renew attention after a period of prolonged concentration. The suggestion is that people are more able to focus on other things when in nature, compared to being in the city. It stands to reason then, that if leaders need time and space to reflect, they should be doing this in the outdoors. And this is the reason why senior leaders from companies such as EDF Energy and Sony have chosen to participate in the expedition to Morocco.

Explaining why she chose to take part in the expedition, Nicola Dunne, ex-assistant CEO & chief procurement officer at UK Shared Business Services Ltd (UK SBS), said: “Following the most challenging 18 months, both personally and in my career, this expedition will provide me with an excellent opportunity to build on the 'recovery' work I have started with my coach. In addressing my own resilience, I am aiming to further build my capacity as a leader with the following quote in my head 'know you are repairing yourself whilst helping others,' (Stokes, 2013). 

“The best sessions for deep reflection in my experience have been when I am outside and closer to nature and fresh air. As reflection has been a recent personal development theme, attempting to redress the balance between action and mindfulness, I have high expectations that being in a very different outside environment will prove extremely helpful to me.”

The expedition is taking place on 18-25 April. There will follow a webinar on Monday 11th May at 4pm, where Farscape will explore the results of the expedition. 

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