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This year’s Northern Leadership Conference offered a glimpse into the future

Alexis Thompson

Alexis Thompson rounds up the highlights of this year’s Northern Leadership Conference on future trends in leadership and management

Former RAF pilot and Gulf War POW, John Peters was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s ILM Northern Leadership Conference, held at Manchester College on June 24. 

Peters gave a thought-provoking speech during which he recalled his experience of being held hostage by Saddam Hussein’s ruthless regime during the 1990s. He was tortured, interrogated and tested to the absolute limit, also being brought close to death. It was during this time Peters began contemplating what leadership actually meant and particularly leadership in uncertainty. He is now an author and experienced speaker of international repute to corporates, public sector and charities.  

The second keynote speaker at the conference was psychologist, executive coach and successful businesswoman, Ros Taylor. She shared with the audience the results of her research with 80 top CEOs from the FTSE 200 to discover what made them successful, as well as revealing their 10 commandments for success, which included trusting the team, problem solving and learning to relax. During her speech she got people to take part in a personality profile using shapes (apparently those who preferred square shapes were more organised, and people who like squiggles are thought to be more creative). She also talked about the importance of stepping back and learning to keep calm – something that is often hard for people to do when they’re under pressure in a demanding managerial role. Taylor emphasised how crucial it was to set some time aside for relaxation and keeping a calm demeanour during stressful periods, as ultimately she argued, this will make you a better and more confident leader. 

ILM’s Chairman John Jenkins and Tom May who currently runs the research programme at ILM, also gave presentations. May identified the six future trends in management during his speech, out lining why they matter and what managers should do about them.

After the presentations, the panel of speakers took part in an engaging Q&A which raised some interesting questions and feedback from the audience. The afternoon involved a number of workshops, including a workshop hosted by John Peters on ‘taking the LEAP’. During this workshop he discussed the concept behind LEAP! his coherent model designed to develop the abilities required to reach the executives levels in organisations, to be a more agile leader and to improve performance during change and uncertainty. Peters argued that ‘to change an organisation, you need to change the conversations’ and for people to do things outside of their usual habits. He also discussed leading in uncertainty and how a leader should become ‘a prophet of certainty’.  

Other workshops were themed around ‘achieving successful change – the 5 forces of change’, which was delivered by Dr Anthony Greenfield; clean language, delivered by Linguistics graduate Caitlin Walker and Sue Gee author of Who’s Driving the Bus? hosted a workshop examining whether the principles of leadership will remain valid for the 21st century. 

The conference gave us an interesting insight into the future of management and leadership, and got us all thinking about how leadership will evolve to meet the future demands of our workforce and economy, and how our leaders of today can remain just as successful tomorrow. 


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