Inspirational Development Group (IDG), the global leadership and management consultancy, is set to reinforce its presence in Jordan by opening a full-service office.
By Jane Hosking
Inspirational Development Group isn’t new to Jordan. For the last six years, the international management and leadership consultancy has been involved in training programs for senior civil servants, and has run summer courses for private and state school students through its Youth Leadership Development Program.
But now the UK-based consultancy has its sights set on expanding its services in the Kingdom, with a plan to open a full-service office within a year.
Here, HRH Princess Noor bint Asem, who is working with IDG as a consultant, and IDG Executive Chairman Stephen Bennett explain how they plan to build on their current programs as well as making their services available to companies across the Kingdom.
Can you explain a little about what IDG does and what your interest is in Jordan?
Bennett: IDG was established 15 years ago with the intention of creating sustainable change in organizations through their people. Our core business is developing leadership and teamwork in organizations and making change happen through modifying the behaviors of the individuals to meet the strategic objectives of the business. Jordan is a natural place for IDG to invest in. We have worked here for six years in the public and private sector, and our partnering agreement with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where many of your top people have attended, gives us a special closeness to Jordan and the Jordanian people.
What are your expansion plans for Jordan?
Bennett: We have an office in Oman, representation in Dubai—which will increase to a full-service office—and currently in Jordan we have representation through HRH Princess Noor. This will increase to a full service office with an Arabic and English speaking faculty within 12 months.
Princess Noor: We have a lot of plans and we will definitely be continuing the youth leadership programs in Jordan. I think there is so much need especially with the political situations going on. Nurturing the younger generation is key for a more positive future. As for the civil servants program, this will be something that will continue, and right now we’re exploring different avenues.
How did you get involved and what’s your role in IDG?
Princess Noor: My background is very much in human capital and personal development. I love people and I love to know why some people excel and others don’t. That’s where my heart is really. I mentored in the youth leadership program, which is when I came across IDG for the very first time and it was a beautiful experience seeing how the students literally transformed in three weeks. I’m currently doing my masters in positive leadership and strategy, and have participated a lot in different leadership programs, so it was a nice match for me.
What are you teaching participants here in Jordan?
Bennett: IDG’s logo consists of three circles and they stand for our philosophy on high performing teams. The first circle is leadership—we try to get people to answer the basic question: “Why would anybody want to follow you?” The second circle is followership, which is about creating effective followers and answering the question: “Why would anyone want you in their team?” Effective leaders have to have effective followers. The third circle is about collaboration. In the modern world you cannot just be an island, you have to collaborate with other organizations in order to get the best for your own. Breaking down a silo mentality is part of what we do.
What kind of leadership approaches do you draw on from the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst?
Bennett: Our experience at Sandhurst is very important and many of our faculty are former army officers. That informs our approach and our course design. There is much in military leadership doctrine that is appropriate for civilian life. There’s over 200 years’ worth of leadership knowledge at Sandhurst and we make some relevant parts of that intellectual property accessible to public and private organizations.
How do you plan to tailor your programs to Jordan?
Bennett: We don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that everything we do in the West is right for Jordan, which is why we need our own faculty in Jordan to ensure we are culturally aligned with the country’s needs. Our program design will reflect that.
Why are the services that IDG provides so important?
Bennett: You’ve only got to look at the mess that the West has created by poor leadership to know how important it is that Jordan doesn’t suffer the same fate. Jordan has been very successful in avoiding some of these western problems, particularly in the financial services sector, and we want to use our expertise to help keep it that way. One has to ask how were leaders of some very large businesses allowed to perform as they did and let their stakeholders down badly? Where were the effective followers saying: “Hang on, I don’t think this is right, let’s re-think and critically appraise what we are doing.” Effective followership is about saying no as well as yes.
What does IDG do that is different from other similar professional development services?
Bennett: We try to help people to see their work world differently. We could teach general skills, like time management and presentation skills, but there’s no point of difference. Equally the business schools look at things from a more theoretical angle, which is often difficult to apply. We take a practical, experiential approach to the way people can be helped to modify their behavior. We don’t want people to go away from a program saying: “Well that was all very interesting, but how do I use it?” We want them to leave with a usable tool kit. If we can get people to think about their work and get them to operate slightly differently and by doing so, meeting the objectives of the organization, then we will have achieved something special.
Princess Noor: There is a big difference when people are taught using practical applications and simulations as opposed to just purely theoretical. So the impact of it isn’t just: “Okay, I’m going to do this two day course,” and you’ll feel amazing in those two days but when you go back to work it kind of fizzles out. What we are looking for is more of long-term, sustainable growth for individuals, which will result in a ripple effect within their organizations and society as well.
What other aims does IDG have in teaching its participants?
Princess Noor: I think for IDG it’s also about teaching conscious business.
Bennett: I agree, it’s about conscious capitalism. I think capitalism right now has a bad name—and rightly so. But conscious capitalism is about doing things right and also about doing the right things. There has to be a higher purpose to business than simply making money. Making money has to be a result of doing good business and I believe that good, ethical, value based business can be a good, profitable business. Is that such a hard principle for chief executives to adopt?