Uspire Group, the silver winners in the category Employee Engagement Innovation and Transformation at the UK EX Awards 2021, shared their journey with the CXM team. We are delighted for the opportunity to learn from such an inspiring leadership story.

As a kid, I never really embraced the academic side of being at school. I approached education as a necessity rather than a source of inspiration.

That all changed on the day I first learned about the Maasai, an African nomadic warrior group. Not only were they the tallest people on earth but to the impressionable 16-year-old me, they were also self-evidently the coolest. Who would say my knowledge about these glorious African people would help me strengthen my business? My curiosity all those years ago was to serve me well when the Pandemic hit. 

If you are a leader who is passionate about building a trusting and sustainable business, this article is aimed at you. I will share how the Uspire Group used a unique technique called Territory Mapping to re-orientate ourselves smartly so we could get back to serving our customers when they needed us most.

Uspire specialises in challenging, energising and upskilling leaders in multiple sectors and markets. Our work with customers was solely face-to-face before the pandemic. Consequently, our diaries were emptied of all projects and appointments after March last year. That’s when, with time on our hands and a no small amount of trepidation about our business prospects, I got in touch with my friend Anthony Willoughby from the Nomadic School of Business. He has 30 years of experience translating nomadic tribal wisdom both to Companies like Ferrari and The Gates Foundation and leading Academic institutions across the World.

Anthony introduced us to Emmanuel, an elder and leader of the Maasai people. Together they shared wisdom about how to transition from an old set of beliefs to a dynamic, new territory map. Here is the collective map we created as step 1 in the Territory Mapping journey.

Mapping helped our leadership team grow more stable by establishing a new shared language, a sharpened focus and new collective intent. We discussed which people we valued most around our company’s campfire. The agreement was also built around which Mammoths we needed to hunt and what beasts we should be wary of. Two key concerns, for example, were cost management and team anxiety regarding revenue numbers.

We made some brave decisions and put all our energy and investment into two initial projects; upskilling ourselves and our global training partners and fundraising for the NHS.

Helping the customer experience

We put every trainer we have through a Master Trainer certification from the Institute of Leadership and Management. This helped each of us to gain selling confidence and train customers using the wholly new screen-based environment.

  • The first step we took in supporting the NHS was calling one of our biggest customers, Edwards Lifesciences. Colin Hart is EMEA Director of Effectiveness at Edwards, so when he picked up my call, I knew he would have some great ideas.    
  • Edwards kindly agreed to sponsor Uspire in creating create a series of morale-boosting podcasts. Every online view lasting at least 3 minutes would generate a £1 donation to the NHS.
  • We approached special guests for the twice-weekly Boostcast, which included Anthony and Emmanuel talking about trust in leadership.
  • We invited our customer base to attend the Boostcast so we could provide learning and inspiration whilst they were working at home.
  • The 22,320 views raised enough money to create Wellness Hubs in both Walsall Manor Hospital and St George’s in South West London.

Key outcomes

Much like Maasai people moving territories when circumstance dictates, Uspire has pivoted into offering both remote and in-person learning experiences for existing and new customers. Meaningful virtual sales helped us. As the brand awareness rose through the fundraising Boostcast and webinars, we started noticing bigger gains and empowerment with such a worthy cause. 

What did we learn?

Creating 25 Boostcasts in 3 months was a real stretch for our small team, but my goodness did we learn a lot about ourselves and our customers. We also got to acknowledge how best to connect with people who are working from home.

We now know the secrets to improving online impact:

  • Simplicity
  • Empathy
  • Brevity
  • Visuals
  • Eye level communication
  • Good lighting

As Anthony Willoughby taught us, ‘True leadership is not about status or wealth, it’s about what you contribute’.

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