A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Impact's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Impact is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Director David Williams
The early days: experiential
learning in the outdoors
David Williams started Impact in 1980 with the intention of
using adventure as a catalyst for individual development.
Since then, they have helped young offenders to turn
themselves around, trained deputies at the National Coal Board
and, in 1984, were approached by the Post Office to equip civil
servants with the leadership skills required to privatise British
Telecom. Their work began to capture the attention of the media
and, after a couple of TV appearances, Impact were commissioned
by Apple, Marks and Spencer and many other well-known
British and international companies. David tells the
simply doing what he loved day to day became a business and
how he seeks to inspire leadership in those he works with.
We live in a world consumed by a toxic fantasy of leadership, where special people
with special powers believe they have a right to tell others what to do. It’s this
approach that has got us into trouble in a number of ways over the years, and it’s
not going to get us out. We need a world in which leadership is not just about
special people, but about the vital forms of action that come from everyone and
everywhere in organisations where problems are solved collectively – a leader’s job
should be to liberate individual brilliance.
The inspiration for Impact came when I was 16 as a student on a four-week
Outward Bound course in Wales. It was the first time I’d been away from my
family and friends, and it changed my life. In that month, I achieved things I
never thought I was capable of – physically, socially and emotionally. I grew in
confidence, and I learnt how to engage with others and influence them positively.
»Director: David Williams
»Founded in 1980
»Based near Windermere,
»Services: Experiential learning
and leadership development
»No. of employees: 250globally
Highlighting best practice
Travelling home, I felt a mixture of
elation because of the experience
and a growing sense of desperation
because it was over. I got off the train
in tears, but at that moment, I made
a promise to myself: whatever had
happened to me, I wanted others to
experience the same thing. I’ve felt
driven to help people achieve their
potential ever since.
Experiential learning with
Forty years on, we have 17 global
offices, with bases across Asia-
Pacific, the Americas and Europe, and
our headquarters are located near
Windermere in the Lake District. We
employ 250 people and have a further
200 associates. Our roots in adventure
and experiential learning have
been developed into sophisticated
methodologies for leadership skills,
empowering change and creating
sustainable enterprise.
We put people in situations where they
feel what it’s like to lead and be led. It
isn’t always comfortable, and feedback
is immediate and powerful. Those
who participate in our programmes
learn to behave differently, solve
problems, make important decisions
and bring out the best in others.
They reflect on their experiences
with colleagues to discover humility,
courage, vulnerability, respect and real
human connection. Our leadership
development programmes are
delivered to 300 client organisations
across 40 countries everyyear.
Solving the challenge
Much credence is given to those in
authority who have a great wealth of
knowledge; in volatile and complex
times, however, leaders no longer have
all the answers and struggle to know
what the future holds. In an uncertain
world, a command and control style
does not help us to discover the best
way forward. We are working with
generations who have greater access
to knowledge than ever before, and
who are pushing for involvement far
earlier in their careers. We also have
complex and unprecedented problems
to solve, with technology and market
disruption moving ahead apace.
Our global expansion has been led by
entrepreneurial individuals who have
been set free to pursue their collective
vision for growth. I never say no to
anyone who comes to me with an idea
if it’s in service of our fundamental
goal: to build organisations worth
working for. To achieve our potential,
we have to take risks and learn from
our mistakes.
I believe that leadership is about
moving towards a consensus-driven
approach where people are willing to
travel in the same direction. It’s about
listening and understanding, giving
people time to realise where they
have come from, to recognise where
they are now and to build a picture of
where they are going next – all in the
context of a call to action. My job as
the leader at Impact is to help other
leaders to emerge, to galvanise their
passions and to develop colleagues
worth working with.
Therefore, as a leader, it’s not what
you know that matters – it’s what you
People learn to feel what
it’s like to lead
I never say no
to anyone
who comes to
me with an
idea if it’s in
service of our
goal: to build
worth working
do with what you know. People hold
themselves back for all manner of
reasons: a lack of confidence to speak
out, a reluctance to openly challenge
what’s going on or a perception that
it’s somebody else’s responsibility.
Culturally, that is a huge issue for
us in the UK; we feel safe watching
somebody else make mistakes and
then criticising them for it rather than
taking action.
Change is needed
Something needs to change if we are
to tackle the complex and potentially
dangerous issues of our time. I started
Impact because I was passionate about
helping other people to become the
best versions of themselves. I spend
a lot of time talking to people about
where their inspiration comes from
and what they’re passionate about.
When you harness your passion to
exercise leadership, you become able
to tackle and solve challenges across all
sectors of society.
I know that there are thousands of
people out there trying to bring about
a more sustainable future. The same
can be said of individuals looking
to influence politics and business.
These people, those who have an
idea and are motivated to pursue it,
need support if they are to make it
happen. Unfortunately, these are often
people who are seen as challenging
or demanding – troublemakers – and
this is a real issue. We need to change
perceptions so that the leaders of
tomorrow become recognised, not
The good news is that leadership can
be learned, honed and developed. At
Impact, we’ve built a business around
helping people to become more
personally aware, curious, open to
feedback, reflective and appropriately
equipped to make informed decisions
about what to do next.
Leadership can and should flourish
at every level in an organisation,
and we are committed to fostering
that elsewhere. We want to develop
leaders who have the mindfulness to
notice when leadership is needed,
the intelligence to decide what to do
and the courage to act. Only then
can we dissolve the toxic fantasy
that has developed by unlocking the
leadership behaviours that can lead to
My job as the
leader at Impact
is to help other
leaders to
emerge, to
galvanise their
passions and to
worth working
Leadership can be learned,
honed and developed
We need to support those looking
at a more sustainable future

This article was sponsored by Impact. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy