I started working with K2 in November 2004 when I was working at AXA Insurance. I was asked to try out their (then) recently launched Athlete @ Work programme by the leadership development team at AXA. What I experienced was so valuable and powerful that I have continued to work with them at every opportunity since.
I find their ability to translate the performance approaches and mind-set of elite athletes into the world of business really engaging and simple. As a ‘non-sporty’ person I was nevertheless instantly helped to see the value of applying the same techniques to my working performances. I gained new confidence and a much higher sense of personal control over my professional life as a result.
The most important skills I learnt were to clearly understand the difference between results and performance, and how to use performance preparation techniques such as self talk and visualisation to build my confidence and enable me to be ready to perform more effectively. I also learnt to change my approach to diet and time management to help me sustain high-intensity working more effectively through the day/week, and to change my approach to leadership of others so that they can perform at their best as well.
What I learnt via Athlete @ Work completely transformed my approach to planning and delivering my work – both in terms of my own activities and as a leader of others. I began a simple programme of reviewing my diary to identify how best to prepare for upcoming events and to adjust how I allocated my time. I also began to keep a ‘performance diary’ in order to honestly reflect on my performances and identify further opportunities to improve my approach. The realisation of how this helped me improve my own performance also helped me see how I could better support others as a leader.
I found my Athlete @ Work learning so helpful and inspiring to my own performance that I was determined to ensure that my own teams should also benefit from the power of K2’s approach. At AXA Insurance I initially arranged for myself and my direct report team to have further coaching from K2 via their Elite Team programme. The impact and value of this subsequently resulted in a wider roll-out of performance coaching for all of AXA’s Claims senior leadership team and for our front line claims teams – including the training of 15 in-house performance coaches. Since leaving AXA to join NFU Mutual I have adopted a similar approach with my leadership team at NFU Mutual Insurance in Head Office Claims, and now more widely with other leadership colleagues in the customer services division.
As a result of my work with K2 on the Athlete @ Work and Elite Team programmes I have completely changed my view of my role as a leader and how I perform in that role. I spend most of my time concentrating on how I and my teams can identify and improve the key elements of our performance that will give us the greatest chance of attaining the results we want – and improving the scale of those results. I’ve changed my leadership approach to one of being responsible for creating an environment where everyone in my team can decide how best to contribute to our shared goals (results) and how to best apply their strengths to maximise the likelihood of joint success.
The K2 coaches are superb at translating their knowledge of elite performance in the sporting and business worlds to fit the need of me and my teams. They are simple, clear and appropriately challenging in their approach. They collaborate really effectively to understand what the needs of each team are and how best to focus development activities. Every coach I have worked with demonstrates the highest levels of integrity and is clearly committed to applying high performance principles to their own performance as well. They work with me in true partnership to make the most of our respective skillsets.