Specialist in focused outdoor management and team development, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses and teams in the public and independent sectors.

Paul Cousins
Outdoor Management and Team Development

I am a psychologist specialising in focused team and management development using outdoor activities as the medium to enhance team dynamics. My service is particularly relevant to small and medium-sized businesses and teams in the public and independent sectors. To maintain professional balance I continue my clinical practice, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. For further info on my clinical work click on Psycholegal

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My management and team development programmes are designed to meet the following objectives:

  • Effective change for team members
  • Development of team leaders or managers
  • Improvement in organisational performance
  • Team building

There is a core structure to each programme, but the programme is not overly prescriptive. I have purposefully restricted the range of outdoor activities to ensure that the focus remains on team dynamics and objectives, rather than offer a cluttered programme of events which lacks coherence. My work is in the mountains of western Lake District, including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England - perhaps symbolic for teams wishing the reach the pinnacle in success! I offer two programmes. The standard programme is based on two days group experience in the mountains, using mountainwalking as the primary medium to:
  • Analyse individual leadership skills
  • Become more self-aware
  • Build self-confidence
  • Practise leading a team
  • Understand the effect of management or leadership style on motivation
  • Identify key areas for development
  • Enhance communication skills to manage effectively

The advanced programme includes wild camping in the mountains, which typically extends the programme to four full days.

Programme detail is set only after consultation with you. Thus, the pre-programme meeting and participant objectives form an important part of the programme design. Similarly, the review process forms an inherent part of the programme, evaluation taking place either in the workplace or by questionnaire returns after an agreed interval.

Either programme can be integrated into a longer in-house training event, and Human Resource [HR] departments may wish to involve their trainers in the programme or to attend the end-programme review, depending on organisational structure and development strategy.

And the rationale for using outdoor activity? Lack of familiarity for most people with mountain terrain and the desire to achieve a team objective encourages participants to look to one another for support. The use of outdoor tasks can encourage team members to work together more effectively, promote teamwork, become more empathic towards each other, more consultative and open. Participants increase their awareness of each other's strengths and skills, and the outcomes are then reflected in team practice upon return to the workplace. It is also based on the understanding that people learn more effectively when involved in the process themselves, and that knowledge is consolidated more effectively when experienced rather than taught.

Outdoor management or team development can be a powerful development tool when matched to the needs of an organisation, and in this respect my programme is relevant for teams wishing to:

  • manage transition
  • address motivation
  • increase innovation
  • challenge or modify existing leadership styles
  • enhance team relationships
  • manage crisis, or
  • reward themselves for success
Conversely, the programme would not be relevant for teams wishing to develop specific 'concrete' skills, which typically improve with practice, for specific goal setting or short-term work planning.

Lingmell: team building & management development in the mountains
Lingmell from Scafell Pike. Photo by Walking Britain

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