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#QVisit: Relational Leadership in Sheffield

On 21 November Q community members had the opportunity to explore relational leadership across Sheffield.

Hosted by five GenerationQ fellows (Helen Crimlisk, Jennifer Hill, Steve Harrison, Ruby Smith and Fiona Kew) who each work in different parts of the system within Sheffield, including acute care, housing and mental health, this visit focused on how relational leadership across the area can be used to bring about improvement and tackle some of Sheffield’s difficult challenges.

How interesting I made a mistake!

We all make mistakes, learning can be painful but brings personal and team bonding.

Humans are fallible and so mistakes are inevitable – how do we use them to make things better? The first session of the day invited attendees to consider how they (and the organisations that they work in) view mistakes. Leading by example Jennifer Hill and Fiona Kew shared personal stories and anecdotes of how vulnerability in leadership can be powerful, particularly in creating a culture that is open about mistakes and creates opportunities to make improvements as a result.

Here’s something I learned along the way

After a coffee break, attendees were invited to participate in a world cafe-style break-out session focused on specific techniques that each of the five GenerationQ facilitators have found useful in their work contexts. Each technique was framed as a way to nudge culture, with actionable changes that attendees can use or think about in their own contexts, rather than jumping in at the deep end.

Changing meetings

Deconstructing the good, the bad and the downright ugly of meetings, Fiona got participants talking about ways to make meetings a productive use of everyone’s time.

Using stories

Having shared personal stories of failure earlier in the day, Jennifer read aloud from Geoff Mead’s Telling the story: The heart and soul of successful leadership and encouraged participants to explore how they might use storytelling in their day to day work.

Icebreakers and check-ins

From a how are you feeling check-in to eXtreme rock, paper scissors, Steve Harrison shared his top hints and tips for breaking the ice at the beginning of a meeting or workshop to energise, set the right tone and get the best out of participants.

Appreciative Inquiry

Shifting from a problem-focused approach to Appreciative Inquiry can pay dividends and is applicable to a host of situations. In her session, Helen guided participants through how they might apply Appreciative Inquiry principles in practice.

Thinking Environments

Space to think and being present in the moment were key themes throughout the day, but particularly in Ruby Smith’s breakout session, inspired by principles from Nancy Kline’s Time to Think.

Something to sustain me

Over lunch participants were given the option to get involved in different activities that sustain more than just our bodies. These included a short Pilates session, a trip to a nearby gallery and a poetry reading.

You know, that’s not such a bad idea …

The penultimate exercise of the day saw participants split into 4 groups, each allocated two random words (think enormous and goat). Each team had to pitch a product to the group named after their two unrelated words, using the yes, and principle to build on suggestions while brainstorming.


In the final session of the day, attendees shared what they had learned throughout the day with the group and what they would take back to implement in their organisation.

For more information on this and other visits, see the visits homepage or contact the Q team.

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