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News > School > OB Ian Huntley Leadership Training

OB Ian Huntley Leadership Training

Old Birkonian, Ian Huntley, visited Birkenhead School at the beginning of the academic year to deliver Leadership Training to the Prefect Team as part of their preparation for the year ahead.
28 Sep 2022
Ian Huntley and the 2022 Sixth Form Prefect Team
Ian Huntley and the 2022 Sixth Form Prefect Team

The glorious sunshine that treated us on the Friday before the start of term was the enticement that the new Upper Sixth Senior Prefect Team needed to get them rallied for their Leadership Training day. Now a regular fixture in the Birkenhead School calendar, the session was delivered by Old Birkonian, Ian Huntley, a former Royal Marine who now works as an independent leadership, defence and security consultant, and an executive coach.

Ian started the day by encouraging the group to think about awareness. Awareness of oneself, of other people, and of broader societal issues. He then moved on to attention, and explained how this can vary from a wide perspective towards more focus as we begin to pay attention to what we deem to be important. Ian introduced the students to psychologists, such as Kurt Lewin, and his theories of change management, and also Joseph Luft and Harrington Inham’s ‘Johari Window’, a technique designed to help people better understand their relationships with themselves and others. The group tried the ‘Johari Window’, and were surprised by the results, generally noting that their peers thought very highly of each other and were particularly complimentary of their empathy towards those in their lives.

Upper Sixth student, Hadiza Adebowale, who attended the training, said, “I thought the Johari Window exercise was interesting and I hadn't considered the possibility of the "blind" window and the way we're not always aware of the way others perceive us. The most important thing that I learnt was that leadership isn't always about results; it's also about making sure that you're appealing to people's emotions too. Moving forward I want to try to immerse myself in more activities that rely on me to interact with a wider range of people so I can develop my emotional connections in order to better understand them. Having that understanding will help guide me when it comes to leading groups of people.”.
Ian then moved on to discussing the merits of different types of personalities. He asked the group to form a line from the most introvert to the most extrovert. Those who perceived themselves as introvert lined up calmly and with deference to each other, while the extrovert end contended over who was the most outgoing.

The group was then split in two, with challenging tasks posed to the students where they were encouraged to work together, listen to each other and complete timed missions. While the challenges were, in large part, unachievable due to their complexity, this allowed for very interesting feedback on how they worked together, and, crucially, what they could do better next time.

Asia Grundy, who was also in attendance, said, “Ian's take on leadership came from a refreshing perspective; great leaders go beyond recognising and utilising their own qualities and are able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. We learnt, through a series of fun physical challenges, that the need for delegation of roles, open body language and listening needs to be demonstrated to be successful. Understanding individuals' unique characteristics, not only makes team members feel valued and seen, but allows a leader to create the most effective team structure.”

We would like to thank Ian for his continued support of our student’s development and of Birkenhead School.

Background information on Ian Huntley:

Ian Huntley was commissioned into the Royal Marines on a university cadetship. His operational experience, mainly with 3 Commando Brigade, included tours in Northern Ireland, Northern Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was the Deputy Task Force Commander. He has held a number of command and staff appointments dealing with Counter Terrorism, Nuclear Security, and Targeting. He has also worked on policy and strategy in the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. For the last four years of his service, Ian was head of the MOD’s leadership centre, which was set up to improve the capacity of senior military officers and civil servants for strategic leadership.

Ian left the Royal Marines in 2016 and now works as an independent leadership, defence and security consultant, and an executive coach. He primarily helps to develop the leadership skills of individuals and organisations, and is currently working with the NHS, police, MOD and industry. He is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

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