Rip Up the Rule Book on Leadership Training

10 Apr 19 | Steve Smith

In this blog, our Director and Co-Founder, Steve Smith, discusses how important it is to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to leadership and management training.

Since we started Raise the Bar in 2004, I’ve heard endless horror stories about HR Directors, training heads or MDs paying thousands of pounds for their future superstars to walk into yet another vast magnolia-painted hotel room to hear someone waffle on at them for six hours. So why are leadership programmes still so beige? It’s time to rip up the rule book on leadership training.

‘Wacky’ introduction exercises, wads of boring paperwork (that simply gather dust afterwards), cold coffee and limp cheese sandwiches are staple components of the traditional leadership programme…and have been for decades.

And you can guarantee the results from these types of sessions are nowhere near where they need to be.

I’ve seen too much beige to count over my career. It came to a head for me recently when someone told me they’d paid £1,200 for a one-day PowerPoint workshop held in exactly this type of environment. It’s not leadership training I know, but is this providing enough value?

I honestly don’t know why people accept it. But, saying that…every cloud!

Ripping up the rule book

I know that great leadership training can truly revolutionise people professionally and organisations permanently, but you need a catalyst to think different and take action, the inspiration to make a change.

When we set up Raise the Bar we wanted to look at development in a more inspirational way. We’ve achieved much in the years since then but it was during a trip to Dubai in 2017, we used the flight to draft up a plan for a new game-changing approach to leadership training.

Those notes led to the creation of our flagship leadership programme, ‘Change Catalyst’.

Even then, we knew it would be bigger, better and bolder than anything else in the market. It would do as it said: Be a true change catalyst for industry leaders.

Change Catalyst – Leading a training revolution 

So, what is the difference to every other leadership programme? Well we looked at how we could create a stand out programme in a series of new ways.

Finding the right location: We turned our backs on beige and set out to find the country’s most innovative and creative space to host our training. We landed on Here East, former home of the Olympic Press and Broadcast. It’s Europe’s most connected building and is now home for some of the UK’s boldest and brightest innovators. It’s not your average backdrop, and why would you want it to be?

Bringing great minds together:We went through our speakers and sourced leaders across the world that could help create a six-part programme that would connect delegates with genuine industry game changers. So, our Change Catalyst sessions are led by, and connect people directly with, global thought leaders including:

Change Catalyst: Rip Up the Rule Book on Leadership Training

These are speakers you’d expect to pay somewhere between £10,000 and £20,000 to book for a major conference. But, through Change Catalyst, future leaders get direct and personal access to these great minds, as well as 75 or so other like-minded leaders from all corners of the country who are taking part on the course. And all for under £3,000. Add into this the expert facilitation skills of Kirsty Mac, who links all the sessions together, and it’s a brilliant programme.

I genuinely think that Change Catalyst is unique because it gives every individual taking part face-to-face access to so many brilliant minds, helping them to grow personally and professionally and to instil dynamic and lasting change within the organisations in which they work.

Content and innovation: Through our thought leaders, we align the content of the programme to many relevant issues being faced by modern business. So, whether it’s disruption in a digitised world, smart workplaces and flexible working, people engagement, team leadership or emotional intelligence, we have THE leading thinkers in a single space with our delegates.

We align innovation everywhere we can. Not only the location of the training itself, but in terms of the mobile app we have for delegates to connect, ask questions and source content. Gone are ring binders gathering dust. Change Catalyst is a genuine game changer, without doubt. Someone said to me recently, it’s like leadership and management training on steroids. I’d agree.

I believe that if it helps one person to believe in their ability, to change their outlook, to drive personal change or organisational improvement, to stretch their thinking or to alter their world outlook, just like us back in the early 2000s, then it’s an investment worth exploring.


Who knows? Change Catalyst could be the thing that truly revolutionises your people professionally, or your organisation permanently. All it takes is to get in touch with the team and your future stars could be on the next programme! Contact us at to find out more.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith


Steve Smith is one of the most sought-after speakers with extensive experience of working with leading corporate organisations ...