Duncan Bennet, Director of Customer Service and Support, describes his experience of becoming a qualified Living Leader trainer at Tunstall Healthcare UK.

The Leadership Development Programme forms part of Tunstall Healthcare’s culture transformation programme, which aims to give high performance through behaviours, skills and attitudes and ensure consistency through systems, structure and processes. Here in the UK, the course is delivered by our own staff – as this allows us to relate the training to our own roles and departments in the most effective way.

I can honestly say that becoming an accredited Living Leader facilitator is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But also one of the best.

I was given the Inspirational Leader award at the Tunstall Unify conference in March, and it was shortly after that that Carolyn told me I’d been nominated for the Living Leader course. From what I understood at that stage I thought it sounded interesting and absolutely the right thing for the company to do. That was before I’d seen the stack of books that arrived! I’m not a reader, and it’s been a long time since I studied anything except the racing results. So the amount of homework required was a challenge in itself.

Before the course began in April we were given the training manual and asked to prepare lesson plans. I did my best but with a day job to do I confess there was limited time. The course is residential, and the first part of it lasted 7 days – 2 days before and 5 days after a weekend. I knew it would be intense but I didn’t know quite how exhausting it would be! In addition to the long hours, the course is mentally demanding, not least because it takes you completely out of your comfort zone of normal day-to-day work.

Doing the course with me were Ian Price (UK), Carolyn Reed (UK), Seth Muraskin (USA), Martin Rengbo (Sweden) and Femin Minguez (Spain).

We soon fell into a routine of getting up about 5.30am to prepare for the day ahead, doing the course during the day, catching up on work emails for an hour before dinner and then meeting for a bite to eat before returning to our rooms to attend to any urgent Tunstall matters and continue preparing for the next day. It was a rare thing to get to bed before midnight but as the week went on we got used to it and knew what to expect.

At the end of May it was time for me to ‘fly solo’ and deliver my version of the course to other Tunstall staff. Trainer Natashe Bridgen kept a careful eye on me at first but was pleased enough with my progress to leave me to it after a while, and we are all now qualified trainers.

I don’t want to give away too much of the content of the course, because you need to experience it for yourselves, but I know it’s definitely changed me and the way I work. It’s made me much more aware of my own and other people’s behaviour at work, and I’ve mellowed and become a bit less impulsive.

Ultimately the Living Leader course is all about understanding other people, helping to empower and motivate them as a manager and work better together. As more of us have been on the course there’s a real buzz around the business from people excited about the change, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to be involved from the start.