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Challenging Convention at Newcastle Business School

8th April 2015

At Newcastle Business School we challenge the conventional wisdom of our clients. We disrupt fixed mindsets and entrenched ways of working; both of which can severely limit individual, team and organisational progress. We inspire new ways of thinking, behaving and working for our clients through the facilitation of contagious and disruptive learning approaches that challenge accepted norms and create the enthusiasm, energy and courage required to learn and change. This is created and enabled by a passionate team with real experience – blending relevant business research with real business issues.

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing

Newcastle Business School has been developing coaches for over ten years through our coach development programmes.  Often HR or L&D managers come along stating they want to learn more about coaching skills in order to create a coaching culture across their organisation. My first challenge is always; “Why do you want to do that?”  Its not that I don’t think coaching is a great idea, quite the contrary, but when organisations can not answer this simple question, I know their efforts at implementing a coaching approach are likely to fail.  Developing coaching skills alone will not make the difference.  You need to understand the value proposition and the strategic fit (Hunt and Weintraub, 2007) So, if you are interested in developing coaching as a developmental approach within your organisation you may want to start by getting alignment across the senior leadership team on the following simple questions.   • What does this organisation need to achieve in the next two to five years? • What kinds of attributes and behaviours do we need from our staff? • Would coaching support the development of the desired behaviours?  How?

Following these strategic questions I would encourage you to think how a coaching initiative dovetails with other HR initiatives.  The most effective organisations can explain not only why they think coaching is a good idea per se but why it’s a good idea for their organisation right now.  They describe in tangible terms who will receive the coaching and what they aim to achieve in terms of critical behaviours and business outcomes and the fit with the overall HR and OD strategy.

In the next edition of this newsletter we will consider some of the practical questions for developing a coaching initiative.  In the meantime, for an informal discussion of how to develop strategic clarity for coaching in in your organisation contact Joanne James at

Hunt,J.M. & Weintraub,J.R. (2007) The coaching Organisation: A strategy for developing leaders. SAGE

Responsibility is the fundamental management issue of the 21st Century

‘Globalisation’ and ‘internationalisation’ are words rarely absent from today’s business leaders’ dialogue but what do they actually mean for the people working in organisations? There are approximately 200 countries in the world. Siemen’s 41000 employees are drawn from 140 of those countries, Maersk’s 121000 employees from 130 and the NHS’s 1.3 million employees span the entire 200!

Bringing people together from different countries and nationalities provides a richness of knowledge and experience but also poses a challenge for organisational leaders to avoid cultural misunderstandings and conflicts. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 90% of leading executives from 68 countries said finding effective cross-cultural personnel is a top management challenge

So what is required to make cross-cultural encounters effective? Researchers have identified that certain intelligences improve individuals’ performance in organisations. For example Emotional Intelligence enables the detection and regulation of the emotions of oneself and others. Such intelligences improve performance when working in one’s own culture but to be effective across cultures requires something different – Cultural Intelligence, or CQ.

CQ has been defined as ‘the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organisational cultures (Ang & Van Dyne) and there is now a tool available to measure an individual’s CQ which also identifies specific development areas to improve cross-cultural competence.  Staff at Newcastle Business School are certified to use the CQ tool and provide practical intercultural education.

Subsequent issues of this newsletter will go more deeply into CQ but, in the meantime, for more information please contact Michael Green at Finally, to test a little of your CQ, imagine you are in a restaurant abroad and you are served a bowl of soup with a live fish swimming in it. How would feel? Which of the following responses is closest to yours: a) ‘I can’t eat that’ b) ‘This is different’ c) ‘This is new to me; how interesting (We will talk about your results in the next issue.)

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Responsibility has been described as the fundamental management issue of the 21st century According to a recent McKinsey survey (The Business of Sustainability: McKinsey Global Survey results 2011) there has been a significant increase in businesses integrating sustainability principles into their organisation across a range of operations, a key driver for which was retaining and motivating employees.  But is it for everyone?

Traditionally accountability for Corporate Responsibility (CR)  issues and initiatives has sat firmly with the CR or Sustainability team but we are slowly seeing organisations integrate these issues into core products and services and other internal functions.  Marks and Spencer’s Plan A for example could not have been implemented without, product design, marketing and supply chain. 

For sustainability principles to be embedded into corporate practice they must in turn be embedded into an organisations leadership and management development processes (Courtice 2012).    As the integration of sustainability within organisations increases as does the need for the knowledge of sustainability and a more responsible approach to leadership to be included in individual roles and their associated development. 

And so in answer to the question: Corporate Responsibility – Is it for everyone?  I would argue yes!  For organisations to be truly responsible ALL employees must be engaged in the agenda, not only understanding the wider impacts of the organisation but also the implication of their actions as an individual.

Newcastle Business School has responded to these changes by developing a range of programmes which focus on the development of Responsible Leaders across an organisation.  Our programmes   bring together a unique combination of the exploration of global sustainability challenges facing organisations today alongside the development of greater individual self awareness.

In future newsletters we will explore what it means to be a more responsible leader and how this is reflected in our programmes here at Newcastle Business School.   Meanwhile, for an informal discussion about our Responsible Leadership Programmes contact Dr Jenny Davidson:

Culture is what makes you a stranger when you are away from home

Courtice, P (2013) The Critical Link: Strategy and sustainability in leadership development. Retrieved May 14th 2013:

McKinsey, 2011. The Business of Sustainability. Retrieved 23rd May 2013:

Windsor, D. (2012) Educating for Responsible Management, The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility. OUP, Oxford

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