Clare Johnson

Clare Johnson, Independent Usborne Organiser


A look back at June's Leadership Academy event

12th July 2019

On Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th June, 43 Leaders joined the Usborne Books at Home team for an invigorating two days of celebration and business development at the De Vere Staverton Estate in Northamptonshire.

This season's event saw us shake things up a little. With a focus on 'realising and strengthening our core qualities to ensure we are the best way to buy and sell Usborne Books', on Tuesday we were joined exclusively by this season's Gold Leaders.

Following a fun-filled icebreaker, our attendees were split into Established Gold Leaders and New Gold Leaders. While our Established Leaders created a 'Dragon's Den' style pitch for an innovative business idea (to be revealed in due course...), our New Leaders took part in a coaching session.

Why do we ask questions? How do we use questions to 'open up the conversation'? Led by our Managing Director, Mark Franklin, Leadership and Business Development Manager, Sue Pittman, and Leadership Development Coordinator, Karen Chamberlain, our New Gold Leaders were given the opportunity to put their skills to the test. Perhaps most importantly, we were reminded that "sometimes the best thing we can do for another human being is to listen without interruption".

So, how can this be implemented across your Usborne business? First on the bill for our afternoon session was our 'Summer Focus', in which our Leaders broke down their goals for this season into weekly actions.

It's natural to feel intimated by big challenges that stretch the limits of our comfort zones, and it's often reassuring to hear that you're not alone in sometimes feeling daunted. Four of our fantastic Leaders kindly joined us for a Q&A to discuss just that.

Talking about the ins and outs of their businesses, from what they love to what they find most challenging, our Leaders reinforced a powerful feeling of solidarity amongst their admiring audience. A big thank you to Emma Devine, Steph Gibson, Francesca Laidlaw and Helen McIntyre for sharing their experiences with us all.

With that, it was time for our evening celebrations! Kicking off with some bubbles at a well-deserved champagne drinks reception, the night continued with a delicious three course meal accompanied with plenty of good conversation.

Day two started with the arrival of our Silver and Bronze Leaders, who joined the Gold Leaders for a second day of skills building and business development.

Our vision is to provide everyone with the opportunity to write a better story for their family; but what does this mean to our Leaders as individuals? A crucial part of understanding your 'Usborne Why' is exploring your drivers, and the room's intimate atmosphere provided the perfect, 'safe' environment for our Leaders to dig deep as they contemplated their motivations.

Feeling both moved and empowered as our Leaders shared their personal stories, we were struck by the palpable sense of community in the room. With their drivers discerned, our Leaders were challenged to consider what they will stop doing, start doing and continue doing more of to bring the The Eight Qualities of Your Usborne You to life across their business.

All that was left was for our Gold Leaders to deliver their ingenious (and not to mention hilarious) Dragon's Den pitches. A particular stand-out was 'The Usborne Bus': a touring double-decker, featuring a member of the Head Office Team dressed up as a Little Yellow Duck...

In amongst all the laughter, the creativity and ingenuity really shone through. With ideas like these, we can't wait to see how your businesses develop throughout 2019!

After a couple of hours of free time to enjoy the fabulous grounds and facilities, our Leaders regrouped for our second evening of celebrations. Following a drinks reception in the Club House, we enjoyed another delicious three-course meal, accompanied by wine and fantastic company.

We hope that each of our Leaders came away feeling refreshed, revitalised and inspired... and ready for the next day's Dream Bigger Day of Inspiration!

Here's what some of our attendees thought:

"LA always leaves me feeling refreshed, inspired and bursting with ideas for what I want to do next in my business" Christina Taylor

"Leadership Academy is great - I always leave feeling sparkling and energised from seeing so many other inspiring leaders." Sarah Singleton

"Can I come next time?"

Every Organiser could attend for FREE if they achieve Gold level membership of the Business Development Programme. We would love to welcome you to our next Leadership Academy event in October. To find out how you book your place, read our Business Development Programme blog or speak to your Mentor.

Tags:meetings and events