Empowered peer learning groups – introduction

“There is no learning without action, and no (sober and deliberate) action without learning”

Reg Revans

This set of resources has been curated to support your programme of action learning. 

Drawing on leading-edge materials, it aims to:

  • Maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of your action and collaboration time, by introducing underpinning ideas ‘off-line’ to the group work.
  • Support your learning, with pragmatic solutions, tools and concepts that you can implement in your leadership practice.
  • Create a coherent framework – a foundation – from which your leadership can grow.

Ready to jump in?

£100.00 inc VAT

Programme contents

  • Empowered peer learning groups – introduction – course contents
    10 minutes
  • Executive Team Learning Groups – preparation
    15 minutes
  • Action Learning Groups – introduction
    20 minutes
  • Know self to lead others
    40 minutes
  • Understand your personal ‘drivers’
    45 minutes
  • Understand human needs to build trust
    60 minutes
  • Develop your generative presence to be at your best
    30 minutes
  • Checking in and out to build trust
    25 minutes
  • The gift of skilful listening
    90 minutes
  • The art of the question
    20 minutes
  • Challenge, support and the ‘drama triangle’
    25 minutes

This programme offers

Work through it in your own way - binge or nibble?

Some people like to 'binge learn', meaning that they allocate a whole day, and sink into a thorough immersion in a whole module.  Others prefer to take 2 hours per week, and work through a single lesson at a time.

Our courses are ideally suited to both - you are in control and you can work in the way you want, at the time you want.

Whatever your preference is, you are advised to book time in your diary, to ensure you get into a learning habit.

Different types of media to suit all needs

Each lesson will mix videos to watch, with material to read and explore.

Plus there are downloadable handouts, worksheets, templates and checklists to print and take away, and keep for future reference.

A little more about the 'lessons' included in this course ...

Want to find out more about the content in each of the packages?

Keep scrolling, you will find a summary of each element below. 

Want to talk to someone about how this might suit you?

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More detail on each of the lessons

Get ready to learn

This lesson is all about preparing for a great learning experience.  It helps you to settle into the use of the e-learning platform, and understand the nature of an 'action learning' or 'action inquiry' mindset.

Many of us have dropped out of the habit of experimental action and reflective practice - in our busy, working worlds.  We run relentlessly from one task to another, barely pausing to notice the real responses from others around us or notice our own habitual auto-pilots.  So, for some, the return to an inquiry-led journaling process, will be a new discipline to work into your day.

The video explains why doing ALL these things (as a learning cycle) is essential to any lasting change.

We include this lesson in all our courses and bite-size products - so if you have seen this before, you can skip it and move straight on.

Learning and change preferences

Different people have different preferences for learning and this also impacts on their approaches to personal change.  You might find that you LOVE the ideas and pragmatic tips for action, but find it hard to concentrate through the theory.  For someone else the theory will be exciting and stimulating, but the thought of trying things out (before they can predict perfect execution), is scary.

The video explains why doing ALL these things (as a learning cycle) is essential to any lasting change, and the package gives you the opportunity to explore your learning preferences and how to extend your range.

Executive Team Learning Groups - preparation

As you start to consider whether you want to develop an Action Learning Group, or you are starting one as part of a programme of work - you need to think about the orientation and purpose of the group.  This makes a difference - as there are many different forms of group development, and the contract between you needs to be clear.

This lesson quickly helps you to review your ambition and objectives for your group, prepare yourselves to contract well together, and for those who want it, gives you a route to some personal reflection which can help you identify what you want to work on.

Peer Action Learning and Support Groups - introduction

When we try to develop our learning, unlearn old habits and assumptions and develop new approaches, we are often put in very vulnerable positions.  As leaders especially, showing our ‘learning out loud’ is challenging.

This lesson explores the learning processes, set up demands and positive benefits and opportunities afforded by a well-functioning peer Action Learning Group - which might be part of your programme.  It is an essential introduction for anyone hoping to facilitate or participate in these peer coaching processes as well.

Know self

Why start here?  Adult, senior leadership learning is unlike the learning we do early in our lives and careers.  When we are young and inexperienced, almost all learning is ‘additive’ in the sense that we have large arenas of not-knowing that we can fill with new ideas.  However, when we have invested in ourselves for many years, we need to start ‘unlearning’ as much as acquire new things.

Unlearning is a little harder as it requires us to bring into conscious awareness aspects of our practices, behaviours and assumptions that have disappeared into taken-for-granted ‘auto-pilots’.  This often occurs at a time in our life when our old, ‘go-to’ routines, habits and reactions seem to no longer serve us.  Things we learned earlier in our lives to protect or defend us, make us feel more secure in the face of our own doubts, or were merely copied and acquired unconsciously from the environment we happened to be in, seem to hold us stuck, rather than move us forward as they once did.

Unlearning and relearning as a senior leader takes enormous humility and some degree of energy!  And it starts with thinking again about who we are, and what ‘makes us tick’ the way we do.  That is why we start with opening up the opportunity for some self-inquiry, and provide a mechanism for you to seek feedback from others.  This opening up, and demonstrating vulnerability and a learning attitude, is the first step to creating the conditions of trust with and for others.

Personal 'drivers'

Some of us are perfectionists – others speed-addicts!  Whatever your personal ‘drivers’ they will have their roots in your history and upbringing, and the various experiences you have had along the way.

They will serve you well – AND they carry a ‘price’ to both you and those you lead, facilitate and work alongside.  They may be overly used, especially when you are stressed or ‘triggered’, getting in the way of adaptation and learning.  Understanding them is essential to getting into a more productive and learningful relationship with stressor events.

Becoming more aware of these ‘drivers’, their benefits and impacts, and how to recognise and support development in yourself and others – gives you more choice, more freedom, and therefore more personal mastery.

Understand human needs to build trust

Trust appears either explicitly or implicitly in just about every organisational ‘value statement’ document.  We use the word as if it were something simple that could just be demanded at will – of ourselves or each other.  When we combine this with an overly mechanistic view of the human being at work (for example 20th Century ideas such as “leave you emotions at the door” etc), we have lost touch with the fact that TRUST is profoundly human, based on the degree to which we are able to be vulnerable to ourselves and each other, and feel confidence that our deepest needs will be met with integrity.

This lesson uses the latest neuroscience, psychology and sociology to explore our deep human needs.  Take this lesson slowly, think it through and ‘feel’ it through as you go, allowing it to touch you and tell you something about what is important to you.

It deepens our understanding of our personal ‘triggers’ – those stress moments or periods which catch us and plunge us into a non-resourceful state, potentially defensive and reliant on old fixed habits - blocking adaptation and change.  Making a link between these and our deepest human needs, gives us the capacity for self-compassion and a deeper understanding of others - from which we might go on to enhance our capacity to adapt, renew and learn.

Be fully present at your best

​We cannot hope to lead anything or anyone, if we are not fully aware of what is going on.  Whether we are interested in developing ourselves, leading people through change, creating new strategic options, or working at distance with complex dynamics - we have to fully turn up, with all our senses alive to the moment, to find the opportunities to be helpful.

This lesson contains an introduction video, and later in the lesson there is a 'deep dive' longer video by Daniel Goleman (of Emotional Intelligence fame) which those of you with a deeper interest may want to watch.

There is a handout with some additional tips, pragmatic tools, and some spaces to make notes.  You might find it useful to print this before sitting down to watch the video - to capture your thoughts and questions as you go along.

Checking in and out to build trust

One of the simplest, yet most profound practices that enable good work while IN a team or group workshop, learning process or meeting, is to properly handle the entry and exit processes.  We don't normally realise how important the rituals and gestures are that secure a level of intimacy which can then enable more challenging work to be done - but they are essential.

This simple and pragmatic lesson offers some techniques which can enable the leader, coach or facilitator to properly open and close such meetings, giving a better chance of real vulnerability and learning capacity.

The gift of skilful listening

We live in a constantly changing web of interactions and connections with others, and with both human and non-human factors and experiences that force us into adaptations, innovations and work-arounds.  Some of these are welcome and exciting, others challenging.

When troubled - especially when we feel highly anxious or "under attack" - the choice to "lean" TOWARDS the source of irritation is a tough one - and yet, at the heart of sustainable and safe leadership, is the skill of listening with deep attention to what IS, rather than what we would "like" it to be.

This comprehensive lesson takes you on a journey from the most taken-for-granted levels of listening, through to the sophisticated capacity to adapt based on our engagement with others and the wider world, and with the joys and stressors of our lives.  With exercises you can carry out yourself, or invite others to join you with, it will help you develop your craft of deep listening.

The art of the question

​This lesson explores the range and nature of great questions - which promote learning with accountability, and support productive team or individual adaptation.

It will help you understand the different types of questions, their purposes and impacts.

It offers you a compendium of useful coaching, leadership and facilitation questions to help you develop your "art".

Challenge and support and 'drama triangle'

One of the ways that groups demonstrate trust to each other, is the degree to which they enable and allow each other to offer and receive support and challenge.

  • Support lifts us up - our confidence and capabilities are built and acknowledged and our contribution is enhanced.
  • Challenge exposes our development opportunities - it catches us BEFORE we fall, by others spotting and generously sharing gaps in our thinking, it holds the mirror up to how we are blocking our own progress, or feeding our own pains.

But without trust, it can become distorted and dysfunctional - and this is where the 'drama triangle' of rescuing (instead of supporting) and persecuting (instead of challenging) takes over, reducing others (and ourselves) into a victim-like state which is turned either on ourselves ("I am hopeless and can't do anything about this") or on others ("this is nothing to do with me, it is his/her fault and they must change").  No learning or change comes from this dysfunction, whatever the intention behind it.

Rooting-around, trying to find the FAULT and CAUSE of this dynamic is pointless and helps no-one, no matter how tempting it might be.  This is because the very act of trying to allocate blame lifts us out of a deeper inquiry into how we are contributing to MAINTAINING the dynamic, even at a cost to ourselves.  It is only through asking ourselves about our own contribution that we can step into adult responsibility for making new and different 'gestures' into the dynamic.

This lesson explores the best and worst practices of these dynamics, giving you a language to understand what might be happening.  ALL groups fall into this dysfunction some of the time (families, clubs, communities, teams and organisations) - but you don't have to stay there.  If there is sufficient will and courage to experiment, new habits can be formed.

Ready to jump in?

£100.00 inc VAT

Frequently asked questions

How long can I access a programme or course?

Your programme, course or module will be accessible to you for 1 year from the time you start it.

However in each lesson there are also PDFs, tools, products and exercises, that we think you will want to keep – you can download them, or print them.

What if I fall behind and out of step with the programme timing?

All significant learning commitments require some dedication.  This means making conscious choices, and carving out the time to acquire, experiment with, and reflect on what you are exploring.  Sometimes, this is going to clash with other priorities and occasionally it might feel a little overwhelming – even for the most dedicated learner.  If you know that a busy period is coming up, plan for catch-up time in the weeks that follow.

Some of our longer programmes involve following a specific timetable with a group – with new modules ‘starting’ at a given time.  This may tie in with Peer Support Group meetings, and/or with workshops or webinars.  If this is the case for your programme, an important aspect is that you are not alone – but in a community of learners.  The timings of ‘live’ experiences or group meetings are rarely changed once the programme starts, as this would impact negatively on your colleagues and co-learners.  Keeping up with others, so that you share your learning and benefit from their experience, is important.

Get into the learning habit, and if you have concerns about whether you will be able to do this, and if you fall behind at any time, just reach out to us and we will try to help.

Can I bundle one course or programme with another and save money?

Some of our courses are already bundled, in particular the shorter courses shown in our ‘bitesize’ section.  If the course you are interested in IS available in a value-for-money bundle, proceed with your purchase, and before closing the ‘sale’, you will be notified of this choices at your ‘Cart’.

If the other courses you are interested in are not bundled right now, just contact us, as we can put a custom bundle together for you.

Can I commission custom courses for my organisation?

Many of our programmes and short (bite-size) courses have been originally developed especially for a client – and, where appropriate, then adapted for a broader audience and turned into an ‘open’ programme.  It is our clients around the world that ‘pull’ new content and commission what we go on to build, to meet their needs at any given time.

If you would like to either curate a custom programme from our existing stock, or you have an area of new content that you would like us to look at, just contact us and we can help.

What if I'm not satisfied with my purchase?

Our courses and materials are getting great feedback from users – but of course it might not suit exactly what you are looking for.

We are always happy to refund you if you start a course and find it isn’t what you wanted.  Please contact us straight after completing the first lesson in the course if you would like us to refund your payment or switch you to a more suitable product. 

Please note that we are unable to refund a course that has been more than 50% completed.