Natural Leaders in Action

Birmingham Airport leadership team was an established team who had been working together for a number of years.  There was a level of trust within the team built on credibility and legitimacy but something was stopping them from being their best.

The team wanted to unlock their full potential and effectiveness as the organisation undertook changes to its operations from the effects of Covid-19 and consumer behaviours. Working in partnership, Natural Leaders created a journey specifically for the & Birmingham Airports leadership team focused on mindset and skillset:

Flex skills – communication, design thinking, coaching
Self Skills – courage, honesty, decisiveness, energy management

The work focused on the simple three step paradigm of insight, co-design and engage. Building individual profiles of each team member using the tools that have been specifically developed for culture, leadership and team performance improvement:​

Talent map – Provided an understanding of an individual’s personality using two key factors Alpha and Beta along with behaviour/ values questions to measure alignment of ethos, helping understand the person and their team and organisational fit​

Culture map – Provides an understanding of the individuals personal energy, and propensity to bring value added energy for the work.

Individual modelling – A tool utilised in a live environment to map each team members model of the thinking and action based constructs

Individual and group field work with sheep and sheep dogs – Provided experiential evidence of the teams current behaviours and motives, their subtle non verbal body language and then through the design elements of our work space to practice the new mindset, behaviours and skills, all safely explored in our unique and novel environment. ​

Individual modelling & Natural Leader in Action


David must have a goal, and a plan with which to reach that goal. He must be constantly learned and pushed, otherwise he will move on​. Key Check-In – When was your last check point?​

David committed to action immediately when he stepped in the ring.  He took good control of the dog and gave clear commands with a range of variety, showcasing the importance of using tone to communicate with the dog.  We all enjoyed watching David having fun, highlighting the importance of positive team dynamics.​

Throughout the task Jake began to lead David and ignore his commands, to which the panic was evident through David’s nervous laughter and his break in concentration. Through the shepherd direction however he regained his composure and grew in confidence.  When David relaxed, his connection with the dog grew stronger and his commands were more effective.​


Jo is a trusted advisor to those around her. Once she has her destination and plan, she is heading there with her team around her​. Key Check-In – Is your flight plan clear?​

Jo was noticeably uncomfortable in the ring and this was portrayed via her closed body language.  Jo went on to mention she did indeed feel uncomfortable when not in control of a situation.​ Jo did however achieve small moments of success when she committed to being in the moment with the dog, when she engaged her body she was able to communicate effectively.   Her relationship with the dog grew as did her confidence; an example of what she is able to achieve when she commits to the action, even without control of the situation.

Group Sheep Task

Group 1:

Without a clear objective, the team clearly struggled to organise their efforts around a common purpose. They struggled to communicate initially and were led by the animals rather than the other way around.​ 

All three noticeably grew in confidence after using the time to take stock of the environment and became more consistently engaged and appeared to learn and apply that learning as the task played out.​

A key take away would be the levels of communication; often allowing teams to think out loud is a good start to understand what each other are feeling.​

Group 2:

The natural hierarchy of the group played out in team 2’s task, with Wayne taking the helicopter view at the back of the group and taking control of the situation.  David was energetic and engaged in his approach with the sheep whilst Kristie and Jason sat slightly further back in a more reactive role, both using the crooks well as directed by the shepherd.​

Team 2 clearly took the learning from Team 1 well and communicated confidently without the need for excess chatter. Both David and Kristie utilised their body language well with the sheep and Kristie especially looked for expert advice when needed.​

The Natural Leaders team blended the application of the person centred insight data with field work in a novel environment. Consequently, the team had an immersive learning experience, not only about themselves but their team. They were able to take away what they experienced and learned from Natural Leaders and put it into practice in the workplace.

“I had high expectations for the leadership day with Natural Leaders, but I have to say that these were far exceeded and the day itself was far more valuable, insightful and impactful for our performance than I could have imagined.”

Wayne Smith, Director of IT & Information Security, Birmingham Airport

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