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August 27, 2019

What Leaders Really Want: The Road to Inspiration

In a perfect world, leaders lift, accelerate, inspire and motivate teams on a daily basis, ever guiding people and the world to higher levels of brilliance… effortlessly.

Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. Not because we don’t deeply desire to lead true transformational change, but because it just isn’t as simple as we’d hoped. We all aspire to giving clear, empathetic and purposeful leadership, but sustaining this can be hard work. We all want inspirational leaders capacitated for an ever-evolving world, who appreciate humanity and nurture a better, sustainable future. Our question became, what could make this mission easier?

Leadership in any organisation can be a challenge. We need to constantly refuel inspiration through ongoing waves of demand in a sea of immediate need. Our mission is to help leaders achieve this. Empanda facilitates motivational journeys that challenge conventional, and in many cases, ineffective team-building exercises, with a collection of experiences designed to give leaders a fun and light tool-set that help engage, enable and evolve teams. Every journey has a set of unique outcomes, but all build a shared sense of purpose, and inspire us to reach for our full potential.

Our inspiration for this offering was a need to combat a history of painful change:

A history of change pain, with little gain

In January 2018, we began developing our OASIS Leadership Journey in earnest. We were inspired by the challenges we faced when delivering change management and learning services for big corporate clients. Massive, digital transformation programmes were constantly struggling with the people transformation aspects of change. The same problems were repeating themselves. We realised the existing paradigm needed to shift, breaking this cycle. Our journeys were our solution and response, offering a fresh way of approaching change management for people. They are agile and high impact experiences for leaders who want to take teams on a journey, and sustain or reignite energy.

So what are the challenges we refer to?

We all know and talk about the importance of committed leadership, sponsorship and business ownership being critical to the success of big transformation agendas that we mobilise. Yet, many of these programmes start out with shining banners that turn into tatters over time. The going gets tough, engagement dwindles, tasks become unnecessarily detailed, and complexity rises. Over time, we ebb further and further away from the tangible outcomes we envisioned from the outset. Urgent operational demands recall champions, and the excitement of upfront strategic planning and ideation on tomorrow becomes a distant memory eroded by fatigue. Familiar?

Across different countries, clients, service providers and industries, there is a common pattern: by the time the project lifecycle reaches its testing phase, we are swimming in detailed design decisions that regurgitate, causing frustration and sometimes anger. We moan about corroded design, thinking and poor listening. Scope creeps insidiously outward as we discover armies of devils hiding in detail.

People change is the perpetual victim of budget reprioritisation. The strategies and plans we visioned for communication, training and engagement, whither in the face of expanding demand for further system functionality. Business leaders in the wider organisation rage against the incoming machine, resisting time out from critical, daily operations. Our early certainty that people were at the heart of evolution is quashed. Our change communication and learning professionals do the ‘routine wave of shrouding despair’, to no avail. We receive our orders to make do with less, and to be professional about it.

So we bravely do, archiving the risk of non adoption, as requested. Many a good change or learning consultant burns out doing their best. In the lessons learned sessions, we learn the lessons again… and again.

So there is the problem. Consistently, vampires come and drain the life from the vision we all dreamt of, and the skeletal remains deliver only a fraction of the benefit we calculated at the outset. There had to be a way to overcome this; to mitigate negative impact on good, hard working people caught in the maelstrom of change.

Creating a Journey for Leaders

We did some soul-searching and considered the honest (and generally accepted) truths: You can’t outsource the leadership of change, yet this is what corporate clients consistently seek to do. Fixed price contracts are defined to externalise risk. These deals bring in consultants with external reporting lines, and consistently give away control of design. They also inhibit the natural and organic evolution of future capabilities, as knowledge is nurtured within external, unsustainable resources. Leadership is still ‘accountable’ for prioritising the pathway to tomorrow, however, immediate survival today tends to take the biscuit.

Our first response was to create our OASIS Leadership Journey. It was forged to give leaders simple tools to lift motivation levels. It promotes a focus on people, rather than tasks. The journey is novel because it steps away from the ‘training’ paradigm, where we essentially upskill a leader who, in turn, would be capacitated to deliver their agenda. Instead, leaders deliver as they go, supported live and in the moment. It is an active experience model that delivers benefit directly into the organisation. Leaders walk together through the process with peer, coaching and creative support. It’s a progressive model that blends creative storytelling, executive coaching, consulting with the expertise of learning professionals to bring an integrated suite of skills to bear. Running parallel to digital transformation, business leadership is continually supported, sustained, and reinforced. Business leads its own change.

Our first journeys were successful, but revealed a further need. While our leaders were excited by the approach, finding the flexibility in the framework highly effective, the early stages of the journey focus on going deep with listening. When we listened to our teams it was massively empowering, but also overwhelming. The inundation of positive opportunity and existing challenge was often intimidating. Some of our leaders fell into self-criticism and judgement, feeling simultaneously challenged and stimulated by the universe of problems and possibilities that opened up. We needed a solution for this. Thinking hats went on.

Leadership is generally really hard work, and most business leaders don’t have resources on standby to take action. Most fulfil the leadership aspects of their role alone, or with very lean machines that are already fully dedicated and stretched. The people in leadership roles we meet are generally already working at maximum capacity, often more. Yet most leadership articles, courses and programmes tell leaders who we should be, what we should be doing, or the outcome we should deliver. Very few directly help leaders with delivery on the actual journey.

What Leaders wanted was a helping hand

We realised our Leaders wanted purposeful fun, meaningful engagement that stimulates motivation, ideas, actions and ownership. They wanted experiences that don’t consume vast amounts of productive time, that rather provide light, directional touches as needed. Think of a spaceship maneuvering through space, aiming for that docking station, or working to slingshot around a planet. Direction comes from perfectly placed jets that propel the ship into alignment, or accelerate us, redirect us, energise us, or more.

We realised that our leaders needed a suite of opportunities to accompany the OASIS Leadership Journey, team experiences that support outcomes. A set of ‘leadership domains’ kept on coming up. Empanda is named after the roman goddess of hospitality, a goddess who reached with hands outstretched to share, to welcome and to open.

We started to focus on how Empanda could be a helping hand. Like our name.

A fresh and vibrant approach

Our leadership avatar is a dragonfly. It starts life as a basic creature under pressure, under water. The dragonfly metamorphosizes into a beautiful, agile being, able to be almost anywhere at once, glittering iridescent in the sunlight. Its movement seems effortless. Amazing and multifaceted eyes take in a wide world view, and the dragonfly is able to move immediately to where it needs to be. When we are leaders, like the dragonfly, we need wings to help us fly.

We have leveraged our decades of engagement, change and coaching experience to design a series of day long journeys that give a helping hand to leaders. These journeys are now available as a part of our OASIS Leadership Journey, where the need arises for a leader. They are also available as standalone opportunities for leaders to use to give themselves ‘wings’.

The first wing is innovation  where our courageous hearts build leadership within our teams, where we accelerate new ideas, where we inspire an appetite for excellence, and where we mobilise bold new adventures. The second wing is collaboration across the constellation of our stars, bringing people into alignment, creating bonds and connections, celebrating and recognizing our successes, unifying ourselves into teams with focus and purpose. The third wing is nurture, our role as the perpetual gardener: soothing fatigue, inspiring self-discovery and evolution, finding balance within ourselves and with our world, helping our people find dreams and walk toward their full potential. The fourth wing is sustainability , the stakeholder relationships that power us, our personal integrity and how it reflects, the constant ray of sunshine that gives energy, and direction toward a world that is better for all our stakeholders and for our planet.

We would love to welcome you, and support you in your mission. Our aim is to share our natural space, to hold a moment in time that is fresh, open and authentic, engendering a feeling of vitality. We want to make leadership an effortless, intentional and fluid experience, to enable practical and strategic insight. To create and sustain the warm glow that comes from seeing our people open up to the beautiful, infinite possibilities. To share and internalise dreams that motivate for a better future for all.

Join us for a journey…

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