In April 2020, while reflecting on how dramatically the learning and development industry had been impacted by the pandemic, RPfT’s Managing Partner, Katerina Kerr, and Helen Buckwell, from Hidden Strengths Learning, felt what was needed in this moment of isolation and confusion, was community and collaboration.
They came up with an initiative – to regularly bring together their clients, all of whom are L&D professionals, in one virtual space. The purpose – to create a collective, a collaborative forum engineered to help capture the positive lessons we were learning, in the interest of shaping our organisations for the future.
We called them Collaborative Virtual Breakfasts and they have grown in strength and popularity, with each session offering a chance to connect and reflect on a specific theme.
It’s been a joy to partner with Helen Buckwell on the Virtual Breakfasts. Helen is a leadership development specialist and professional coach. She has a wealth of experience in professional services organisations and large corporates.
Hidden Strengths Learning helps teams and working groups to operate at their very best, in an ever changing and complex world. They work with their clients to increase collaboration across their organisations for commercial success. This approach really compliments the work we do here at RPfT and the breakfasts have been a wonderful opportunity to put this into practice across our learning community.
Before each event, participants are invited to connect with each other on Linked In and are given a short reading list of relevant articles, as food for thought around our theme. The sessions themselves are friendly, energetic and thought provoking; providing everyone with the opportunity not just to develop their thinking through our introduction and advance reading, but to also consider things from the differing perspectives of their peers in group discussion.
Afterwards, we follow up with materials highlighting the areas that were focused on, and the conclusions or development of thinking that was noted. Participants leave feeling energised and with ideas about new approaches to the issues their individual organisations face. They also gain new allies within their network, to offer support and receive advice from, while moving forward.
Leadership Development: Empowering leaders and talent to take accountability for their own learning – October 2022
This Virtual Breakfast looked at how we can encourage the ownership of learning within our organisations. VB participants explored ways that leaders and talent could be empowered to take ownership of their own learning and identified issues that could be blocking them from doing so. Possibilities that were identified included; the perception of learning (what it is and how it is valued within organisations), differing learning styles and generational attitudes. Adapting language strategies and group coaching were recognised as methods to resolve some of these matters and to bring value to learning development and ownership.
Collaborative Leadership: Harnessing the power & creativity of the collective – June 2022
What role can Leadership Development play in enhancing collaboration within organisations in order to navigate challenges? In this Virtual Breakfast we explored this question and worked together to brainstorm a variety of ideas and solutions, suitable for adapting across different settings. We also discussed how to promote collaborative leadership by making specific space for intentional collaboration, how to foster a collaborative culture that recognises this approach and how to develop the skill set required to implement this.
Leadership Development’s role in attracting & retaining talent- January 2022
Our first Collaborative Virtual Breakfast of 2022 invited participants to discuss the growing issue of retaining and attracting talent within their organisations. We explored the reasons behind ‘the great resignation’, such as the seismic change to worker’s priorities during the pandemic and the discovery that hybrid working was actually possible. We explored how best to provide for these shifting priorities and expectations both. We agreed that senior leadership has a powerful role in creating a culture of belonging and growth, inclusion and authenticity and discussed L&D’s role in equipping leaders to fulfil that role positively and effectively.
Re-igniting the spark & finding joy in our teams – October 2021
This Virtual Breakfast took place 18 months into the Covid-19 trials and tribulations that had left the workforce and LD professionals exhausted, and tired of experimenting. Our cohort brainstormed solutions to the questions they were asking – including, how to reignite the spark to combat brain fog, burnout and survive the ‘‘war for talent’.
Empowering our leaders & teams in a hybrid world – April 2021
This Virtual Breakfast addressed the issues facing leaders of dealing with the ambiguity of hybrid working. Uncertainties existed around how their team members are working, when, and how well? Together we considered how leaders can maintain their presence from wherever they are working from. We also explored turbulent times as a unique opportunity for learning how to do things better in the future.
Building connection to avoid isolation – October 2020
By October 2020, we knew prolonged remote working was inevitable. Organisations faced the task of retaining employee engagement, a vital ingredient to maintaining effective collaboration and cohesion. At the same time, health and wellbeing was at the forefront of our minds, leaving LD professionals asking how they could be ambassadors for retaining that change within their organisations?
Getting creative in the new normal – April & June 2020
In our very first Virtual Breakfast, just weeks after the first Covid-19 lockdown began, we addressed the questions on everyone’s minds. How to identify the different skillsets needed to work virtually, while still making an impact? What response was demanded from leaders to support teams during this time? And how could we approach this creatively?