High Performance Leadership (HPL) Alumni gathered for the first time in Finland recently to set the basis of the HPL community in the country. The event took place in Helsinki’s Biomedicum, a prestigious venue that has previously received the King of Norway. 

HPL Alumni from 2011, 2016 and 2017 participated in the meet-up to discuss what they had learned and what changes they had made, following their experience of the IMD program, which has been going for 75 editions. 

Moderated by HPL coach Olle Bovin, the meeting enabled attendees to re-acquaint themselves with the concepts they learned during the course. It was also an opportunity to have concepts better explained or commented on. 

When reflecting on the knowledge they had acquired during the program, all agreed that it had positively influenced their lives. When formulating their plans at HPL, many had set both family-oriented, and business goals. “I learned I can achieve more by being nice, being softer and act like a parent at work,” said one HPL alum. “I also became a better husband and a better father,” he added. 

Another said the program had helped with better communication: “Since HPL, I now show that I listen by using shorter sentences, being concise and allowing people to ask questions.” 

Each participant, who had attended various HPL sessions, brought to the table new ideas, interpretations and reflections, and these enriched the collective experience. 

One former participant said: “During the course you get the tools that help you to be the best version of yourself. You do not need to be tough with people to achieve results at work – it is better to show your emotions and be yourself.” 

Other topics discussed included lessons learned about bonding. The group agreed that this is vital in business, and needs to be carried out with calm and confidence.  The consensus among attendees was also that showing empathy towards colleagues is paramount to maintaining such a bond – even when you are dealing with difficult people. This, in turn, decreases the likelihood of conflict. 

People also often like change but do not like to be changed, learned the alumni. When we change, we do so following a decision we have taken. It is therefore important to make people understand that the role they play is an important one when it comes to change. 

Also analyzed during the sessions was the role of grief – or loss of joy of life – in organizations, a challenge addressed during HPL. The group recognized that such grief exists in business and can be either expressed or bottled up. Unlocking this in others will improve their performance in the workplace. 

Attendees discussed what key concepts and methods they continued to use after finishing HPL. These included playing to win i.e. going for it and not being afraid, as well as ensuring you feel secure with yourself, as this can boost the confidence others have in you. It was also agreed that we should try replicating how we operate at home and at work. 

Finally, the concept of having secure bases was named as an important take-away from HPL. Secure bases are people, goals, places, events, experiences, symbols, memories (to mention a few) that provide a sense of protection, give a sense of comfort and offer a source of energy and inspiration to explore, take risks and seek change. 

One participant said: "My secure base is where I go for a cup of coffee – it has been like that for 25 years. Although I have not visited it recently, if I go there it is still my secure base.” 

During the event, the group helped one of the alumni with a challenge. They also agreed to continue to help one another in the long term by continuing to share ideas, provide input, raise new questions, as well as adopt different perspectives and angles or consequences of certain actions. 

“This is what community is all about – helping each other during good, but also difficult times and knowing that you are surrounded by executives and people you trust,” said Ioana Canescu, who attended the event and is President of IMD Alumni Club in Finland. 

Alumni left the event feeling energized and were already looking forward to the next session in Helsinki, set to take place in the fall.