Phil Geldart of Eagle’s Flight speaks to us about training and development.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Phil Geldart: Our family has been incredibly busy during the Covid-19 times. Both of my children are active leaders in the business, and we have all been very focused for the last year on leading through very difficult times. We also welcome a new family member, Ranger, who is a pure breed Husky that we got as a puppy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Eagle’s Flight.
Phil Geldart: I started my career in the Nestlé organization in the training department. My early career was in a fairly intense and pragmatic environment that taught me the importance of linking training to results that matter to the business. As the challenges I encountered grew, it led me to two insights that were the genesis of Eagle’s Flight which is, firstly, to impact results, you need to change behavior versus provide knowledge. Secondly, changing behavior is very difficult because human beings act on their convictions, not on what they know.
Out of these insights, I realized this type of learning required a different training methodology and different training tools that helped people see their behavior and discover for themselves that their “in play” convictions drove a set of behaviors that are not as effective as they could be. Out of this was born the experiential learning approach that is now what Eagle’s Flight is renowned for. We also created a new set of tools through our experiences and debriefs. These were the founding elements of Eagle’s Flight.
I continued at Nestlé, and in addition to founding Eagle’s Flight, I was promoted to increasingly senior HR roles, eventually leading the function as the Head of HR. In that journey, three additional insights drove the development of Eagle’s Flight into what it is today. Firstly, the tremendous potential in every human being. Secondly, the critical importance of training and equipping leaders to release that potential. Thirdly, the importance of building a culture that allows the organization to thrive. These three elements are the foundation of the various business segments of Eagle’s Flight today.
Tell us about the Entrepreneurial spirit of Eagle’s Flight?
Phil Geldart: The best way to tell you about this is to show you in the following answer.
How does Eagle’s Flight innovate? And how did you have to innovate during COVID-19?
Phil Geldart: Over the last 12 months, the team at Eagle’s Flight has worked nothing short of a miracle based on their belief in our contribution to the business world at large, commitment to each other, and belief in our guiding principles and values. At the end of February 2020, approximately 95% of the products and services we brought to our clients were through face-to-face interactions. In less than 90 days, our team managed to build virtual experiential learning solutions for our key clients who had strategic programs with us that couldn’t be paused or failed and replicated the majority of our products and services for the virtual world.
To pull this off required tenacity, creativity, focus, and hope from our team. We innovated using the same formula that we have used to grow the business over 30 years. Focus on the most difficult mission-critical people problems of our clients, build your solutions based on codifying and replicating the most productive behaviors, be creative and experiential in engaging people to uncover why those new behaviors are better, find great partners who can inform how to bring that to life brilliantly.
What’s your best advice for leaders as they look towards the future?
Phil Geldart: Never underestimate what your people can accomplish if you provide them with a clear and compelling vision, strong and engaged leaders, and a healthy and supportive environment.
What’s one thing you will take with you about leading through a crisis?
Phil Geldart: You must hold two things that don’t naturally go together in your mind at every turn to lead – a hopeful vision of what is possible and a ruthlessly pragmatic assessment of your current reality. These things are difficult but important to do when you are not in crisis. They are essential when you are.
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