Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Humanizing Leaders

Course: Proteus
When: June 19-25, 2005
Instructor: Nigel Nicholson
Class Size: Varies, around 24
Where: London Business School, England
Cost: £8,000 (about $15,000 USD)
Mission: To give execs time and space to refine leadership skills.

Get busy, and it's easy to get trapped in a bubble.

"We know more and more about less and less," says course designer Nigel Nicholson. "People become experts in their field, and they have less time to step outside and see what's happening in the world." This disconnectedness adversely affects how we deal with people and approach problems, and it's also fueling the notion of higher-ups as comical, out-of-touch buffoons.

Usually it's a matter of making time to expand your horizons. This six-day course helps by giving you time and space to confront larger issues of leadership, innovation, and creativity. Oddly enough, it does so while you sightsee in London. Consider man's place at the top of the food chain while visiting the zoo. Study visual accounts of leadership at the National Portrait Gallery. Ultimately, the goal is to teach a general sense of adaptability by immersing participants in the unfamiliar, and the journey is philosophically, intellectually, and reflectively driven. Those uncomfortable with ambiguity should stay away, advises Nicholson.

Student evaluation: Ramon Sy, president and CEO of International Exchange Bank, in Makati City, Philippines, took the course to refresh his thinking. He remembers visiting a school attended primarily by underprivileged kids. The meeting is meant to be confrontational and a lesson in diffusing criticism. Sy's experience as a self-made man who started out selling cigarettes on the street and later founded his own 75-branch bank sparked a discussion of perceptions of poverty. The lesson has stuck with Sy. "We can only be good managers if we really understand where people are coming from," he says.

Want to go?

Can't go? Read Nicholson's Executive Instinct (Crown Business, 2000) on your next vacation.

A version of this article appeared in the March 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.