Neilson Active Holidays

How to exploit the power of difference?

No-one does summer adventure holidays better than Neilson Active Holidays. They design and deliver every single dimension of the customer experience. A Neilson Active Holidays summer holiday is a premium experience for adventurous, premium families. Neilson Active Holidays also has a profitable winter holiday business.

Neilson Active Holidays had promoted key individual managers to a widened board of directors. All were expert in their individual fields, such as operations and customer service, but none had been on a board before. The business needed to help the new Executive board to develop its strategic leadership skills at pace to guarantee the success of the newly-formed team, which was strikingly like-minded.

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Thinking alike, thinking differently

We identified two key issues. First, there was a strong bias towards Myers-Briggs personality type ESTP (‘The Do-er’), which meant most of the board was optimistic, fun-loving, high energy, impulsive, and pragmatic. Second (and closely related to the first) there was an unhealthy imbalance between Task (achievement) and Maintenance (cultural feeling) in favour of the latter – which meant performance was not where it should be.

Crackle: the sweet spot

We coached the board in defining and living new ‘Stretch Values’. Accountability (team and individual responsibility) and Integrity (courage and openness) were combined with the existing values of Passion (for customer care) and The Individual (personal values) in order to drive what we named cultural ‘Crackle’ – the sweet spot when both Task and Maintenance are maximised. Importantly, living the two new values meant that personality types very different from ‘The Do-er’ were respected and motivated, within the board and beyond.

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The Neilson board has closed the ‘Crackle gap’ and works as a high-performing team of individual talents that understands and exploits its differences.

Balanced leadership is better leadership

Leadership teams often under-perform because they over-conform. As a result, they miss out on the strength of thinking differently.

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