Speaker teaching at the ceo school conference

The CEO School

The CEO school is a developmental experience for directors and senior executives who aspire to be CEOs. It may also be suitable for those owners of their own businesses who really want to develop themselves to become better leaders and to become more capable of managing the complexity that comes with growth.

The experience starts with what might best be described as a ‘deep dive’ into emotion. The difference between what we do at The CEO school and every other provider on the planet starts right here. We go deep into the unconscious mind to reset a lot of previous experiences, decision-making, beliefs and values to create a solid platform upon which our clients can thrive as leaders in both life and business.

That isn’t to say other training organisations are no good because that is simply not true. There are a few good ones that will enable you to become a better leader. You will be able to participate in leaderless and led group exercises both indoors and out. You can complete various ‘instruments’ and receive feedback from psychologists on what it all means and what you should do about it. Done well, those experiences will enable you to improve some of your leadership skills. There are also some surprisingly well-known schools with supposedly great reputations, but whose processes and outcomes are next to useless and that comes from my personal experience of them.

If you think about the Johari window model of personal awareness, and the awareness that others have of you, then you can say that a lot of leadership training works on the ‘blind’ zone – known to others but unknown to you. Where they don’t go is the unknown zone – unknown to you and unknown to others. This is where we go.

The problem then is that while some of the good programmes can produce improvements in behaviour, they don’t change the fundamental instincts, values, emotions, and beliefs of the individual person. This means they may have learned to tame the tendencies but the tendencies they have are still there whether driven consciously or unconsciously. That in turn means they still have to expend energy to deal consciously with their issues.

At CEO school our clients release all the unresolved emotions that cause their issues. This saves them a huge amount of energy. It also helps them gain a different perspective on life and enables them to consider more factors in their decision-making than just their own needs.

One of the other unique features of CEO school is that clients have to qualify to get past the first retreat. Although we haven’t had to do it yet, the possible sanction remains that if someone doesn’t meet the required standard then there is simply no point in continuing with the rest of the program. If such a case ever arises, we would work with this person and their employing organisation to figure out the appropriate next steps for them, to see what we can do to help so that progress is made.

Because they go through such a life-changing experience, the bonds clients form between themselves and the others on the program will tend to last the rest of their lives. The depth of the transformation at CEO school is a particularly powerful experience for teams. When senior teams of directors or executives go through the transformation experience together, you’ll find that they’ll learn to perform at a level that neither they nor you have seen before. They will retain that ability throughout their careers. You might be forgiven for thinking these claims are a little bold, but the reality is, having experienced both armed forces leadership training and corporate leadership training of various shapes and sizes over the past 35 years I can, with some authority, tell you that nothing comes close to CEO school.

One of the key goals of CEO school is to bring the whole picture of the individual into his or her conscious awareness. We help them to release that which is unwanted and to reprogram what is desired. Having built the foundation we then move on to those skills that allow each person to maximise their effective emotional intelligence so that they are able to deliver results through others. If a CEO has to do everything himself or herself then they end up driving what we call the one-man company. Everybody does what they’re told according to the whim of the CEO. This might work in static market conditions but even in static market conditions talented people, who appreciate autonomy in their work, will soon leave and you’ll be left with an organisation of followers at best. Then, when market conditions change people will be unable to react to those changing circumstances because what they are used to doing, is doing what they’re told. They will do that whilst at the same time doing their best to avoid any accountability.

Despite us being comfortably into the 21st-century it still amazes me that so many of our large companies run on this outdated model. It is no wonder that they cannot sustain the performance required by investors. If these companies are to survive in the medium term, they literally need to rebuild from the top down, to remove the layers of management known as ‘the responsibility avoidance matrix’ so that they achieve a fearless flow at the top, before extending change into the lower reaches of the organisation.

The CEO school experience is a mixture of 5 different kinds of experience: retreat, workshop, mastermind, coaching and experiential on-the-job learning, to make sure that whatever has been learned sticks and is applied in practice to create better outcomes. Because if we are unable to create better outcomes what is the point? We don’t want to produce people who leave a training program with a lovely certificate and a cheery photo and that’s it. We want our graduates to go out and change the world.

Fortunately, we can objectively measure emotional intelligence. At CEO school we use Dr Martin Newman’s ECR 360 so that we can benchmark each group both before and after the programme. We can therefore demonstrate the improvement in their emotional intelligence over a relatively short period of time. We then embed that change with coaching support in between the retreats and workshops to ensure that this improved emotional intelligence is applied in practice to deliver better results for the organisation.

CEO School works by getting to the root causes of that which holds you back, limits your perspective and constrains your ambition. If you would like to find out more: