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Simon Davies reports on the ABP Surrey & Borders Event: Dr Amanda Potter and Frankie Close on Inspirational Leadership

The ABP Surrey & Borders Group was begun from humble beginnings in the summer of 2013, by Deborah Barleggs and Dr Amanda Potter. For the first two years, it remained a relatively quiet affair, characterised by good wine, good ale, plenty of food, and enthusiastic discussions and debates. As a collective of no more than 10 ABP Psychologists, we met once a quarter in a local pub in Surrey to discuss the challenges, changes, and new ideas from our experience. Many of the regular attendees are either independent consultants or psychologists from established consulting organisations, specialising in a range of practices including Feedforward Coaching, training & development, and academic research.

While the predominant focus for these early gatherings focused on networking with like-minded professionals, conversing and sharing the latest information within the field of Business Psychology, more recent ABP Surrey & Borders events have become a little more structured and formal. From the familiar pub theme, meetings have been moved to a local Consulting Office, with a clear agenda set in place, alongside guest speakers, and scheduled presenters. Of course, this new found formalisation in no way reduces the availability of wine, ale or good food, which we believe will always remain a cornerstone of every successful ABP meeting.

Fake it to make it?

Our most recent event, held at the Zircon Management Consulting Ltd. offices in Coulsdon, Surrey, was hosted by Zircon CEO, Dr Amanda Potter, and Senior Business Psychologist, Frankie Close. The central topic of conversation examined the concepts of Executive Presence and Inspirational Leadership, and whether or not leaders need to “Fake it to make it”. Over 20 Psychology and HR professionals, researchers, and students from the local area attended, discussing the multifaceted nature of effective leadership, its associated behaviours and tacit qualities. We were lucky to have a number of new faces also in attendance, joining for their very first ABP event.

Our hosts presented research findings, conducted by the Zircon Management Consulting Ltd. team, addressing the critical components of Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence – as well as the relationship between concepts – by asking those in attendance; “What makes an Inspirational Leader?”, “What does it mean to have Executive Presence?”, and “Do you need to have Executive Presence to be Inspirational?”

Executive Presence vs. Inspirational Leadership

Central talking points were opened up to discussion and debate, particularly surrounding the perceived conceptual differences between Executive Presence and Inspirational Leadership. After a constructive and insightful general discussion concerning research methodology and aims, key findings were summarised and presented. Our white-paper research highlighted that the majority of senior business leaders were able to identify both Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence within their respective areas of business. They appear unable, however, to converge on a real consensus in describing either concept accurately. Once again, this talking point was opened up to group discussion, with attendees generating their own definitions of each concept. Definitions converged to some extent, and were largely similar with those summarised in our research paper:

  • Inspirational Leadership – A visionary and future focused role model who is passionate, engaged, and committed to success. Their personal belief, integrity and drive inspires and empowers colleagues to achieve and deliver high standards of excellence.
  • Executive Presence – A leader with a distinctive combination of personal attributes and features that allows them to express ideas with gravitas and conviction, to influence and engage a workforce with ease.

The discussion continued and delved deeper by assessing each concept in isolation. Attendees were in general agreement with the distinctions made within the research, which split Inspirational Leadership into two distinct groups:

  • Intrapersonal (Emotional) Qualities of Integrity, Charisma, Driven, and Visionary
  • Interpersonal (Social) Qualities of Inspiring, Engaging, and Passionate.

Executive Presence was grouped into four key areas of Credibility, Gravitas, Power, and Confidence.

The evening concluded by considering what the future looks like for both Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence, discussing some of the methods to help train each element including mentoring, coaching, feedback, and role modelling, as it was agreed almost unanimously that each concept extended beyond an inherent quality. Attendees convened into small groups to discuss their current practices and how they may be impacted in lieu of the research discussed.

The next ABP event, “Coaching the Uncoachable”, hosted by Alan Beggs on the 30th June from 6:30pm to 8:30pm in Coulsdon, Surrey, will look to address the nature of Executive Management Coaching within the workplace.

About the author

simondaviesSimon Davies has designed 360 degree feedback items, Emotional Intelligence competency indicators for bespoke assessment tools, Emotional Intelligence interview rating guides, Training & Development presentation materials, Holistic & Validation interview rating guides, Interviewer & Assessor Skills Training facilitation, and co-ordination, Assessment Centre report writing, Psychometric mapping, and Qualitative & Quantitative data analysis using SPSS.  Before joining Zircon, Simon worked extensively in the financial administrative sector for the international logistics and shipping company Federal Express Europe. Simon has also worked as an Assistant Psychologist within academia.

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