Teams and groups are made up of individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, fears, hopes and quirks. Added to these individual eddies are currents of energy and resistance that flow through the collective being. Groups in their turn form part of a wider system with shifting patterns of power and influence. So in any group get-together, the dynamics are complex – and the path to change is rarely straightforward.
‘I don’t hold the answers’, says Hilary. ‘The answers are all in the room already. But some probing may be needed to reveal them.’
Open groups are typically made up of people from different organisations and backgrounds. A team, on the other hand, comes into the room with the participants already having a working relationship with each other. In her work with both kinds of collective entity, Hilary’s approach has been described by participants in the following terms:
bringing people to cohere round purpose in a very skilled way
tangible outcomes are seen as important and achieved
ensuring that everyone is heard and listened to – and that time is allowed for this to happen
very good at getting people to reflect on failures as well as successes, and to learn from this
clear-thinking, especially about relationships
holding a clear sense of where she wants to get to, and having the discipline to facilitate this in a structured way; she allows people to go off at a tangent, and then come back.
Hilary’s work with groups focuses on whatever aspect of leadership is of most concern. Some groups, for example, are looking to develop their political savvy so as to engage more effectively in an increasingly politicised environment. Others are conscious that while they may have strategies on paper, these have little to do with what happens on the front line.
There are three core elements to the work with groups:
designing a learning experience embedded in real life and focused on outcomes
providing stimulating and accessible frameworks or models
enabling people to have direct experience of different ways of working.
...but win-win for individual and group
Hilary has worked successfully with a wide variety of groups – ranging from board members to younger women interested in apprenticeships. A participant in a group of experienced professionals and managers commented:
‘Confronted with a room of senior people, Hilary can bring out the best in individuals and also promote identity as a group. She encourages sharing and is mercifully un-patronising. She is very giving, and has the expectation that others will be the same.’