Dynamic Training Creates the Best Team to Work with.

British School of Amsterdam and the Breakthrough Leadership Programme

Developing a new team for a dynamic and sustainable direction

Ruth Sanderson joined the British School of Amsterdam as the Principal in 2022. She had been introduced to Team Working International in her previous job at Doha College in Qatar when the team had all taken a Harrison Assessment and then had follow-up coaching sessions. She found these sessions so helpful that she continued with Tom as her professional coach on a one-to-one basis.

At one of these sessions, after she had moved to her new role in Holland, they got talking about team dynamics, which culminated in Tom providing the Breakthrough Leadership Training course to the Operational Leadership Team at the British School of Amsterdam in the autumn of 2023.

The challenge Ruth faced was that when she arrived in her post there were a number of changes going on within this senior leadership team. There had been some people leaving, so new people were joining the team whereas others had been at the school for 27 years. This spread of experience meant that relationship building was needed. Having experienced how powerful the Harrison Assessment was on her own leadership skills, Ruth wanted this new team to have that experience too.

Breakthrough Leadership Programme

TWI's Role

To integrate the team members give them dynamic and sustainable direction.


TWI's Role

To integrate the team members give them dynamic and sustainable direction.

TWI put together a bespoke training programme that included both in-person and online training sessions over a 12 week period.

The aim was to achieve Ruth’s vision of:

  • A high performing team with high trust, where they all have each other’s backs
  • Each team member doing their job to the best of their ability
  • team members knowing their areas of strength and weakness and how they can work on these together
  • a team with strong relationships
  • creating the best team she has ever worked with.

The Harrison Assessment

The programme started with all members of the team taking the Harrison Assessment and everyone found this a really useful tool. It doesn’t ever make anyone feel like the weak link – it highlights that everyone within a team has different strengths. This becomes the starter point for looking at how these individual attributes within a team complement one another.

For one of the newest team members, Head of Junior School Mel Fidge, the Harrison Assessment was part of her recruitment process. She didn’t realise it at the time, but it had huge value as she started her new job. “…it helped practically, giving me the tools to lead and to navigate my way in establishing my team.”

Building Self-Awareness

Ruth admitted that when the team saw the schedule for the programme – one afternoon for twelve weeks – they wondered how they could fit it in. But everyone did make that commitment and the time investment “has paid off in spades.” There was also a certain amount of excitement about the programme as it was a good opportunity for the new team to come together. Head of Admissions and Marketing, Lindsay Bellis, joined the team in June 2023 and said “Getting people working together and thinking and knowing their skillsets so quickly is unbelievable.”

Individuals were challenged to think in ways they’ve not thought of before. The team could see the struggles that each other faced and this helped bring the team together. It was quite a challenge to build self-awareness, it required a certain level of vulnerability, which people initially found quite difficult.

The Neuroscience Approach

All the participants welcomed the neuroscience approach – it made all the sessions evidence based. It also made it less threatening: by saying that it is Okay to think a certain way because that’s how we are hard-wired – it made it more scientific and less personal. It allowed people to be more open and engaged with the topic because discussing weaknesses were not seen as a personal attack.

For school bursar Bas van Haver, the neuroscience approach created the authority and credibility for the programme. Mel appreciated the theory and liked the fact that the sessions were grounded in evidence.

“The success of the training has given us a platform and
we can share this as a case study for future business growth.”

Sustainable Change

Unlike many leadership programmes, this one is seeing continuous and sustainable change. The buddy sessions were part of the original 12 week programme, but the team is carrying these on.

Team meetings are now an event to look forward to, where each voice has a place. Individuals can share ideas, safe in the knowledge that no-one is going to judge them. The meetings are more positive and there is laughter mixed in with the serious business of running the school.

As an educator Ruth realized that if you don’t keep thinking about the learning and learning about the learning, you forget it. So she has continued with the buddy sessions which were started during the 12 weeks of the training. There is also going to be a 6 month follow-up with Tom.

In the buddy sessions, two team members meet up, a different pairing each time. These are not to talk about work issues, but to talk about your progress as a leader and what do you need to improve by 1%.

This way of leading has now been cascaded down through the organisation. Mel says “it helped practically, giving me the tools to lead and to navigate my way in establishing the team.

Lindsay says that the techniques learned don’t just help at school, it also helps in your personal life with difficult conversations. “Can’t praise it enough, it has been fabulous for me personally.”

One of the longer-standing team members says that her whole life has been changed on the back of this course.

In summing the programme up Ruth says, “It’s the best team dynamic training I have ever done. (Tom) didn’t just pull something out of the bag. He got to know us all as the trainer and he included us all as individuals in the training. I think that’s a skill that not all trainers have….”

``The team are closer and I feel that
they are now more empathetic to each others’ drivers``

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