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Who are the Institute of Leadership, then?

In short, one of the world’s most knowledgeable bodies when it comes to people management. Going back more than three-quarters of a century, the Institute has spent decades exploring – and shaping – what management excellence looks like. Its ongoing research keeps businesses and public bodies clued up about what it takes to motivate workers with calm and compassion. It’s a renowned, independent voice that sets standards for best practice. Not just for how high-quality people management works – but for how it is taught, too.

And, as we’ll explain in a bit, that has big impacts for our flagship learning and assessment programme, Managing People.

What sorts of benefits does the Institute bring?

With its increasingly global reach, the Institute has a thriving membership of more than 50,000 leaders, managers, coaches and mentors. Being a member grants you instant access to its expertise, insights and resources.

For example, its members-only MyMentoring scheme cuts through the endless noise of clickbait advice and opinions about people management, providing you with a thoughtful ally who can help you meet your full potential. Its webinars and in-person events plug you right into the heart of its network of people management experts.

From productivity and personal growth to thinking creatively and managing remote teams, the world-class leaders, authors and learning gurus who speak at the Institute’s events have every essential topic covered. Leaders and managers can add value to their jobs not just by practising the Institute’s insights in their own work – but by spreading the word to their teams.

In that way, the Institute helps to nurture positive, responsible workplaces, where leaders understand how to bring staff with them to tackle complex challenges – and employees are valued, heard and seen.


Can you trust an endorsement as a true measure of quality?
It’s a fair question and the answer’s not always yes in my experience.
We’ve spent over three years developing our Managing People series of online courses and assessments.
We were very proud of them, and the initial feedback from the managers building their skills, and the organisations investing in their development, was beyond our expectations.
Especially as we were showing impressive outcomes by measuring competency before and after.
So, we thought we’d look at professional endorsement, so people didn’t have to just take our, and our clients’ word, for the quality.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m sceptical about endorsements, particularly the value people see in them.
Some people told us they thought we just paid a fee, got a badge and that was it, so it’s not really proving quality and effectiveness.
Or it was all about demonstrating academic knowledge of management theory. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. But we’re all about experiential learning, where people practice skills in realistic scenarios, with personalised feedback, and have to show they can make the right decision, and demonstrate the best behaviour, in a given situation.
So, if we were going to work with anyone to review and endorse what we’d created, it had to be an organisation that had a lot of experience, respect, and knew their stuff.
On doing a bit of research, and speaking to a few people I trusted, I was introduced to the Institute of Leadership.
Their Leadership Dimensions aligned brilliantly with our 69 behaviours, which are grouped into 7 competencies, so we shared a consistent way to measure what a great manager is.
I spoke at length with the team and met the CEO. Both were impressive, and they genuinely see their purpose as defining what good is, then making sure they know what’s out there to recommend to their members.
They believe in not being the sole creator of knowledge and information, but bringing together the best partners and experts. In short, not recreating something where it already exists, and is of high quality, so not reinventing the wheel.
I asked how often they rejected a course for endorsement, and it was more frequently than I’d expected. They made it clear they really did do a thorough review, and their team had the skills to know when something is worthy of the Institute’s approval. Things that help create better managers and leaders, not just ticking a box that someone had been through a programme.
The reviewers accessed the courses and assessments via our learning platform, so we could actually see they did a really thorough job, and they passed, which isn’t easy, just as being a great manager isn’t.
I was so impressed, and pleased we got the endorsement. So much so I’ve joined as a Fellow and get involved in what they do. Going to their excellent events, as well as being a volunteer mentor for their internal members programme.
So, their seal of approval does count for a lot.

What’s all this got to do with Upskill People?

We may have mentioned that the Institute sets standards for how high-quality management is taught!

As a provider of a training programme that the Institute has endorsed, we have their direct support – verifying that our course is up to date, engaging and focused on improving people management wherever our learners are found. Our Managing People series is an immersive, video-based experience that whisks our learners through the people management hurdles of the fictional Rise & Dine Deli – using one of the world’s greatest, universal languages: soap opera.

As with any soap, learners get entwined in the lives of our characters just when they’re dealing with some big challenges, and try to work out how they’ll overcome those obstacles.

The whole managing people approach is designed to be backed up with coaching and further remote or face to face sessions to answer any queries and ensure that the wisdom our learners have picked up at Rise & Dine sticks, resulting in behaviour change. In short it fits in with whatever the organisation has in place, just like the Institute.

But more than that – on completing the course, our learners are automatically eligible for membership of the Institute, at a reduced rate.

Not only does that give you the keys to all the benefits we’ve mentioned – it means you get to put letters after your name that will add clout to your CV and credibility to your professional views. As well as having Managing People in your toolkit, you’ll be in one of the world’s biggest clubs for people management excellence.

What makes the Institute and Upskill People such great pals?

The Institute and ourselves are like two people who’ve bumped into each other and found we’ve got a lot in common. We know what makes each other tick. We both understand that leadership is formed of many parts that require equal oiling for the whole engine to run smoothly.

In the Institute’s work, leadership contains 49 components, which are grouped into five Dimensions: Authenticity, Vision, Achievement, Ownership and Collaboration. Under those banners, the Institute encourages its members to think about all the different ingredients that blend to form a rounded, confident, fully fledged leader. For example: self-awareness, ethics, leading change, creativity, resilience, mentoring, taking initiative, learning from mistakes, managing upwards, team working, building networks, leading projects and appreciating diversity.

Some of those ingredients ask managers to be mindful of the effects they’re having on their teams. With that awareness in hand, leaders will take care to relate to their staff in ways that will drive productivity, in settings where everyone’s pulling together. Others aim to help managers see themselves not as dominant, heroic individuals, but people who are there to boost the best qualities of the people around them – and bring those traits together to meet strategic goals.

In other words, they’re focused on management behaviours.

On a very similar note, we’ve identified 69 different competencies and behaviours that make managers shine – all of which we’ve mapped on to our course content, along with baked-in measurement. We’ve put them together in seven groups: Communication, Team Working, Adapting to Change, Relationships, Planning and Organising, Ability to Analyse and Delivering Results.

Already, you can hear how our approach chimes with the Institute’s Dimensions and components. Our learners’ journey through that content unfolds over seven course episodes: Preparation, Wellbeing, Recruitment, Induction, Coaching & Performance Management, Appraisals and Managing Talent.

We are honoured to be counted among the Institute’s network of like-minds in the mission to pave the way for best-practice people management.

What the CEO believes

The Institute wants nothing more than for managers to be their best selves. As we share its goals, that’s certainly a message we take to heart in our own work, too. Play the video below now to hear some thoughts from the CEO of the Institute of Leadership, John Mark Williams.


Pete: Hello, John. A pleasure to be talking to you. I’d like to start by asking what makes the Institute special for you?

John: Thank you very much indeed Pete. And it’s a great delight to be here, actually. And I think what makes the Institute special for me is, it’s special for our membership. And we see this quite often when we’re engaging with the community and things, the quality and the level and nature of responses that we get from the membership, that make it very, very plain that our members feel an affinity with the Institute and what we do. And I’m really gratified by that because it in a way, it reflects what we try to achieve as the Institute, which is bringing the best of leadership practice to our members. But we see them, we see leadership as a community of practice around the world, and as you know, a community of practice is essentially a group of people who want to get better at what they do. And that’s why it’s so gratifying actually, for me that our members respond to what we do so positively because it feels like we’re making a positive difference.

Pete: Now, as you’ve been there a few years now, could you explain your strategy of how you bring the best of everything for the members?

John: Yeah, and in fact, yes, it’s just over three and a half years now I’ve been running the Institute. It’s a great privilege for me to do that. And I think the strategy is really straightforward. We in the same way as I guess any professional body, any community hub would want to bring value to its community. We do three things. First of all, we, I nearly said we produce, we source content for the members of our community, which means, of course we produce some things ourselves research, white papers, publications, but actually we curate the best of content that we can find to distribute that to our members.
Secondly, we deliver connections between the members of our community because, of course, the wisdom in leadership practice doesn’t reside just in the Institute or in the things that we find. It resides actually in that community of leadership practice.
And then last of all, we collaborate with other communities because there’s lots of cross functionality and cross-fertilisation of ideas from other communities, not solely those who are in leadership. So the strategy is essentially to provide content, connections and collaboration that benefits our membership community.

Pete: Finally as an Institute mentor myself and someone who was lucky enough to be at the awards. Can I ask, what are the initiatives you’re most proud of?
John: Good question, actually, because of course I’m proud of everything that we do. However, I think those things which make a practical difference in almost in real time and certainly relatively quickly for the members who engage with us. And one of those would be the mentoring scheme that we run ‘MyMentoring’ and I’ve been a beneficiary of mentoring several times in my career, so I know how much value that adds. Something around our publications because we are we are keen to produce publications that actually contain applicable and actionable ideas that people can implement straightaway in their organisations to make a positive difference. And I guess also the relatively new initiative, which is our awards scheme, which we set up last year. Of course there are lots and lots of award schemes out there. What we like to think is that because we essentially we apply our awards, I think for the benefit of the individuals, not solely to promote the Institute, and also because even the awards ceremony itself is not something that’s long and drawn out. It’s a party, it’s a celebration. And that’s what our awards are, a celebration of our members and our community and the leadership good practice that they are actually deploying around the world.

Pete: That’s great, John. I’ll look forward to working with you and the team at the Institute for hopefully many years to come. Thanks very much for your time.
John: Pete, thank you very much indeed. It’s great to have the opportunity, obviously, to say some good things about the Institute, but also to engage with good partners of the Institute like yourself. Thank you very much.

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