Strengthen 'The Core'

Based on our extensive experience delivering leading edge development into New Zealand organisations, we believe that Blacksmith makes the biggest difference to an organisation by working with the leaders who form what we call The Core of the organisation. This means the Executive and the one or two linked connections (tiers in a traditional organisational chart) of the human system directly around them.

Strengthen the Core

[Fig.1: Strengthen The Core, Kate Billing, Founder & Creative Director, Blacksmith]

Leaders with this level of experience and responsibility have generally had plenty of management ‘skill-and-drill’ development. We choose to focus instead on the holistic development of these leaders both as individuals (the human at the centre of leadership) and as a human-to-human ensemble, each playing their part in harmony with the others for a united performance across the enterprise.

This means not just looking at capability development through skills, tools, and frameworks but also exploring the nature of human experience, the way we’re wired as people (individually and collectively) and how that supports or sidelines our intentions and efforts to work together for the good of the wider organisation and its ambitions, not just meet our individual needs for performance and recognition.

Ensemble Leadership Development Model

[Fig.2: Ensemble Leadership™ Development Model, Kate Billing, Founder & Creative Director, Blacksmith]

Along with capability development, our approach to Ensemble Leadership™ development of senior leaders and executive teams includes raising awareness of context across many levels (human, personal, interpersonal. organisational, and wider systems), deliberately growing capacity (personal and interpersonal), and cultivating community in order to create connection, access diverse perspectives, and unlock the potential of the group.

Become Better Together

In our experience, the usual way of developing leaders in The Core of an organisation is through individual interventions such as 1-on-1 coaching and solo or small group participation in development programmes outside the organisation.

While this kind of development absolutely has its place, what these ‘system-of-one’ interventions leave on the table is the power of a collective development experience for your leaders as a community; one that is grounded in your context, your culture, your challenges.

The Ensemble Leadership™ development experiences that we design and facilitate break down silos, grow understanding, trust and respect, myth-bust stories that create drama, drag and ‘noise’, increase collaboration and cooperation, and deepen a sense of shared purpose.

And our approach to development doesn’t just have a positive impact on the leaders directly involved. Because of our holistic approach to developing the humans at the centre of leadership, your people become better leaders in all areas of their lives: at work, at home, and in community, sending ripples wide across New Zealand.

Create Space: Go Deeper - Be Better

In a world where everything is speeding up, going faster and faster in less and less time, we believe there is a huge need for and benefit in creating the space to go deeper, slowing down in order to focus, clarify and connect, and then accelerate effort in new and different ways.

Create Space

[Fig.3: Create Space Go Deeper Be Better Model, Kate Billing, Founder & Creative Director, Blacksmith]

Our programmes are designed to create the space to go deeper into our own experience, deeper into our ways of being and doing, deeper into questions, problems, and the context that’s emerging with all its challenges and possibilities, deeper into our understanding of what it is to be human and how we can be better through our common humanity rather than be at its mercy.

Our approach combines vertical development (exploring our ways of thinking, feeling and making sense of the world) with horizontal development (acquisition of new knowledge and skills) so that leaders evolve personally and collectively to create new value gains.

Establish a Leadership Community of Practice

Our Ensemble Leadership™ development experiences are designed to establish a Leadership Community of Practice based on the common domain of human-centred leadership. Communities of practice are as old as human society itself and are formed by a group of people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor.

In our approach, we create a system within the current system of your organisation. This new system design supports your leaders to learn, grow and make a positive impact together by using the three required aspects of a community of practice:

  • Common Domain – being better together as an ensemble through human-centred leadership
  • Community – relationship-based learning through joint activities, discussions, shared experiences, and cultivating connection, care and respect for each other; and
  • Practice – a shared repertoire of tools, mental models, frameworks, and practices which leaders are encouraged, supported, and held accountable for putting into practice.

Our Leadership Community of Practice programme design:

  • creates a safe space (both in the world and within each of your leaders)
  • enables relationships which support your leaders to build their practice
  • increases awareness of self, others, and contexts of various kinds
  • challenges operating beliefs and cultural stories
  • provides opportunities to experiment with new ways of being and doing, and
  • fosters the development of new muscles and mindsets in order to lead better together.

This is important because the pull of your existing system (relationships, mindsets, behaviours, and more) is strong. The power of your culture to sideline development and its application is generally underestimated if not completely ignored in the design of traditional development programmes.

As your leaders are waking up to themselves and working to reshape who they are and how they lead (individually and collectively), our embedded design supports immediate ‘real world’ application and insight through practice. It deepens their understanding and supports a rewiring of patterns of thought and behaviour.

Community of Practice Components

[Fig.4: Blacksmith Leadership Community of Practice Design Components, Kate Billing, Founder & Creative Director, Blacksmith]

Seated in your organisational context, this Community of Practice design scaffolds your leaders’ learning pathway (learning, applying, forgetting, remembering, and reapplying, etc) and supports the productive struggle required for real growth. This structure is essential if your organisation is going to access the value of your development investment and enable your people to access the potential of their collective leadership.