WIG Interviews Julian Powe, Programme Director, WIG Step Up Step Across (SUSA) – Leading and Performing in Complex Times

WIG Interviews Julian Powe, Programme Director, WIG Step Up Step Across (SUSA) – Leading and Performing in Complex Times
Step Up, Step Across.
 
Working at the pressed middle of organisations can present a very particular set of challenges and in an increasingly complex environment these stresses are exacerbated. That’s why WIG designed the Step Up, Step Across (SUSA) programme. SUSA is equally useful for those who are ready to take the next step up in their career or looking to take on new challenges, as for those who are interested in being refreshed, with renewed energy for their current role.

Julian Powe who has been leading the programme for eight intakes, shares a little more about what the programme entails.

Hi Julian, what is the SUSA programme about?

As with all WIG programmes, the diversity of participants is a key feature for SUSA and a large part of what we do as facilitators is to create a really healthy, safe and inspiring place for people to connect. Our emphasis is on exploration, enquiry, experimentation and application. We understand the context people are operating in and the programme helps them to thrive in complexity and uncertainty, because that is what organisations feel like. We work with some different notions and metaphors for complexity, built around quantum physics, and encourage people to think differently about their context.

So, what will participants be doing on the programme?

Over the four modules we cover lots of different ways of learning. These include small or large groups working together, coaching sessions, visits to very different organisations to provide some input around a challenge they are facing, or encouraging people to try new things back at work. There will be different learning experiences that everyone can engage in. The focus though is always on helping people work on both their inner and outer leadership capabilities, with and through the diverse lens of perspectives across the cohort.

That sounds interesting, but what do you mean by ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ leadership?

For real change to happen we encourage participants to work both with the leader they are that everyone sees: the outer them, but also to pay real attention to who they are: their true self. The outer leader is about inspiring and relating to others, being authentic and with impact. The inner leader is more about what makes you who you are, your emotional self. One participant recently told me that the biggest impact the programme had for him was giving him the confidence to be who he really is at work, and that has made it easier for him to focus on what he is really good at. Paying attention to his inner self has led him to be much more effective in his work.

How does the programme help people lead and perform in complex times?

Although our participants come from a diverse set of organisations exploring the challenges of working in the middle of organisations quickly raises lots of common issues. Through the programme, sharing experiences, different perspectives and different approaches, participants will take away some new ideas and tangible habits and practice that helps them expand more at work and thrive even more.

So finally, and probably most importantly, how do you know the SUSA programme works?

I’ve been working in this field for over 30 years and am able to bring that experience to the programme. Working in middle manager roles people often have a tendency to operate mainly from a mindset that is all about knowledge and technical functions. This is no longer the case as you increase in seniority. To be successful you have to be able to thrive in complexity and bring a different focus to your leadership. Whether success for individual participants is about promotion or just thriving more in their role, I’ve seen people achieve their goals from all our previous cohorts, so I know the programme really works.