We saw how successful these interactions were at our retreats. However, given the restrictions of COVID regulations we weren’t able to run these retreats at a time when design leaders needed peer support more than ever.

We decided to pilot a remote Leading Design: Group Executive Coaching programme. We were delighted that Julia Whitney came on board to run the programme. She was Executive Creative Director and General Manager of UX & Design at the BBC, and is now an executive coach who helped to lead our retreats.

We designed the Group Executive Coaching programme to draw on some of the key benefits of the retreats: space to think, input from peers, and strategic provocations. Group Executive Coaching gives time and space to step away from the day to day and reflect in a safe, neutral space. As coach, Julia asks powerful questions to provoke fresh thinking. She listens deeply to the answers, and she "holds up a mirror" for participants, so they can see themselves and their context more clearly.

Our pilot Group Executive Coaching programme ran fortnightly over 12 weeks from the start of January until our Leading Design Festival in March. Although our retreats have always been hugely popular, this was the first time we've run a remote programme of this kind. We didn't know what the appetite from our community would be. But the tickets sold out so quickly that we decided to add an extra cohort.

We had a balanced mix of attendees, with people joining us from around the globe from large organisations to small agencies.

We received excellent feedback from the attendees:

“As a new leader, the group coaching programme provided a safe space, every few weeks, to talk & reflect on shared challenges with design leaders from a range of organizations. Breakout sessions were a good opportunity to practice techniques learned in the group; silent coaching - listening and getting comfortable with not saying anything has been useful in all aspects of work & life.”

Teak Miu-Tse, Executive Creative Director of Design Systems & Operations | Sky Design

“I could not more highly recommend Clearleft and Julia Whitney's coaching program. This opportunity definitely provided me with opportunity to practice coaching skills that will be invaluable to my leadership and my team.”

Kristina Lawyer, Design Lead at Goalbook

In fact, the programme was so successful that we have decided to run it again. The next cohort will be starting in September 2021. To keep group sizes small there are only a limited number of tickets available and tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If you have any questions about the programme you can get in touch with me or you can find out more and buy tickets here.