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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister