Celebrating Shared Spaces

01 Jul 2022

Social Connection, Cohesion and Face To Face To Face Executive Learning Sets are Back!

Here at HG we are celebrating the move back to face-to-face Executive Learning Sets (Sets) and reflecting on the importance and value of being present in person. 

We are all aware of the sudden shift that was required because of social isolation due to COVID-19. This created a social disconnect, making access to valued colleagues and support less accessible. Whilst strategies were identified to support collaborative learning the practice of connecting in trusted immersive environments was reduced.

Sets, for our members, provide boundary spanning opportunities sharing knowledge about leadership across Australia and New Zealand which creates value by improving the effectiveness of the internal and external networks. Much is emerging in the literature about the importance of this as a leadership practice based around communication within trusted networks which results in increased productivity and increased leadership influence.

The factors that influence information-sharing behaviours are impacted by the effect of individuals’ self-connection and trusted relationships.  Self-efficacy and the effect of social connection either promote or detracts information sharing through empathy generated by the shared environment of members. Our evaluation data tells us that our members benefit, personally and professionally, from presence in Sets. Our feedback from you is filled with celebrations about the improved quality of open dialogue and high-quality social relationships now we are back in a room together.

There is significant importance of psychological safety in Sets and as we now share space together. We are focused on creating the right environment to foster and facilitate innovation, problem-solving, performance and growth. Sets are the space to express appreciation, demonstrate trust, and form bonds on an emotional level.  The nuances of the shared space are the conversations that happen outside of the formal Set and span the professional/person space. Our new members who joined during the isolation phase of COVID tell us that building high-quality relationships is something they are now exploring with relative ease because we are sharing spaces.

An important feature of our  Sets is the operationalisation of boundary spanning at the activity level. Our methodology involves commitment to colleagues for actions that are implemented by members, providing a granular understanding of the importance and effectiveness of boundary spanning in practice. This practice in a shared space is evidenced in the literature as generating productive outcomes and acceleration of leadership performance.

Many recent conversations in Sets have involved strategies to support staff. This involves leaders also modelling ‘whole person’ development; this is increasingly accepted as vital for executives. The links between what you do, how you do it, how you practice self-care and critically how take time out are empirically shown to generate an impact on how you think and perform as a leader. 

Daniel Kim in the “Core Theory of Success”? highlights relationships as a cornerstone if not the cornerstone of success in the workplace and the unique factor for high executive performance.  The ‘pause and resume’ approach of  Sets provides rich rewards on return to the workplace in productivity and successful organisational leadership.

The importance of recovery is part of a peak performance regime. Top athletes spend more time in recovery, letting their body restore after performing than they do in peak performance – why should executives be any different with their minds? 

About the Author

Dr Melanie Boursnell is an experienced Executive and Non-Executive Director who has contributed to improved health and social outcomes in a multitude of health areas. She specialises in scaling leadership, innovation, engagement, capability development and change.