The Annual Windsor Leadership Dialogue

The Windsor Leadership Dialogue (WLD)

An independent forum facilitated by honorary custodians


For senior leaders from a range of different organisations to exchange views on the type of leadership needed to sustain a successful future, and to recognise that they all have an important contribution to make and something to learn from others."

To listen respectfully to others, to cultivate and speak your own voice, to suspend your opinions about others – these bring out the intelligence that lives at the very centre of ourselves – the intelligence that exists when we are alert to possibilities around us and thinking freshly.

Dialogue is a journey, a journey that is open to each of us. And it has the potential to create change that can impact on all of us."

The Annual Event

The 2019 annual Windsor Leadership Dialogue will take place on 14-15 January 2019 at St George's House, Windsor Castle.

Previous events have led to significant conversations and positive feedback. The 2017 annual Windsor Leadership Dialogue, with 28 participants, was considered a great success by all. See video below for details.

The Custodian Group1 endeavours to ensure a balance of participants more towards active leadership roles in organisational contexts, than those more focused on developing individuals and organisations as consultants.

Attendance to the Dialogue is by invitation only but, if you are a Senior Leader and feel you or a colleague could be part of it, do talk to us about our next offer; it is a unique opportunity to develop one's self, applied practice, and the wider work context. You can contact one of the custodians as below or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

The Custodians

Nick Ellerby

Eirian Lewis

Hazel Mackenzie

Duncan Enright

See their bios at the bottom of this webpage.

A Changing World Changes Leadership

Since the first WLD twelve years ago, we have all experienced a fast-changing world that holds implications for leadership. For example, hierarchical reporting is being affected by the easy and rapid availability of information via the internet and mobile devices. This accelerates change in and of society, generating new expectations about democracy and social order. Future generations are unlikely to tolerate traditional models of leadership and will seek different paradigms and less management-dominated work relationships.

The new sciences of complexity and chaos theory (the ‘butterfly effect’) have clarified and challenged our understanding of the increasingly complex situations that leaders encounter and need to surmount. And the latest neuro-science research helps explain many default behaviours including the phenomenon of hubris to which some leaders succumb.

These and multiple other changes in leaders’ environment require a reframing of what we mean by today’s and tomorrow’s leadership, such as:

  • Ways of making things happen that draw on each person's contribution and influence.
  • An approach that steps away from traditional hierarchy where the few determine the direction of the many.
  • A perspective that values the whole person, beyond mere skill, behaviour and job description.
  • Seeing the whole system, not reducing it to its parts, and understanding systemic risks, failure and performance.
  • Holding a moral purpose and negotiating difficult ethical dilemmas.
  • Elevating leadership’s purpose to being of value and doing the best for the world, rather than simply being the best in the world.

Reflect for a moment on those who reach the top of organisations. Many are not good leaders. Organisations tend to confuse career success with work effectiveness. They choose people who are good at managing themselves, their career progress and their image, those who may be better at getting to the top rather than good when at the top. Such leaders may focus insufficiently on delivering benefit to their employer’s stakeholders. Their egos may be driven by power, prestige, recognition or reward which guide their decision-making, even though they are remunerated by the organisation to act in its best interests! Yet many organisations still think of, identify and develop leadership talent in the same old narrow, individual-centric way. Training and education for managers (e.g. MBA programmes) are slow to adapt.

We recognise that all leader and leadership-related practices need to come under a fresh spotlight. The Windsor Leadership Dialogue aims to release some of the energy and potential for change and development.

Overview of the 2019 Annual Event - 14/15 January

We are building on from last year's successful dialogue, the main theme for 2019 will be:

Shaping organisational cultures that are meaningful, ethical, realistic, AND performance-enhancing.

Whilst the questions we work with will emerge from the participants who are present, we have considered the questions that emerged from the 2017 Dialogue to act as a stimulus for what could be developed.

At the start of the Dialogue those participating will choose one, two or three sub- themes to focus upon. The choices will reflect the participants' context and interest. Themes not chosen in 2019 can be considered again in future years together with new topics that emerge. The following offers a segment of the list of sub-themes which the dialogue may consider:

  • To what extent is our organisational culture fit for the future, and what is my essential contribution?
  • How to shift from an adversarial to collaborative leadership and culture, and manage the resultant frictions?
  • How do we lead the interface between artificial and emotional intelligence?
  • What is the impact on leadership and culture of the ever increasing changes in the world from globalisation questions to emergent political leader styles?
  • How do I thrive as a leader amidst the increasing demands that I'm facing and the complexity of relationships?
  • How to effectively develop shared leadership that values diversity and creatively utilises resources?
  • Given the millions invested, and the results, to what extent is a different approach to leader development called for?
  • How do you lead with authenticity and integrity in a challenging and changing environment?
  • What is the influence of truth in a context where traditional sources are under challenge

Our tested and adaptive, yet ambitious, approach to the Windsor Leadership Dialogue (WLD) enables you to consider what is really important, step back and deepen your thinking. You will be able to determine the key themes for yourself, hear different perspectives, and take the opportunity to discover and unfold what might really make a modest or even significant difference. Not everyone gains what they hope for and expect, but that unpredictability and uncertainty can hold surprisingly rich learning.

The WLD offers an opportunity to step back from the pressures and tyranny of the urgent to explore the dilemmas, paradoxes, differences, synergies and possibilities that provide the catalyst for learning, the development of new options and the nurturing of individual resilience.

Key benefits for the 28 diverse participants will relate to the nature and potential of the self as change agent, the leadership role, the leaderful organisation and/or systemic approaches to improving the environment we operate within. The world has changed fundamentally over the last 20 years and the speed and challenge of change has by the internet and the growth of mobile communication. These in turn have impacted the speed of technology development, social change, globalisation and the emergence of the developing world.

From time to time many of us feel 'in over our heads'. Having time to slow down, take a breath and learn with and through others, can help renew and stimulate new possibilities and opportunities.

Whilst this is a unique dialogue event, we recognise that you may also decide to build it into your annual reflection and development process as an ongoing leadership-based learning community.

This year we ask participants bring a book that is 'influencing me as a leader'.

How the Dialogue is Conducted

We believe that the role of the WLD is to provide opportunities to engender a paradigm shift.

Ingredients of a successful dialogue include:

  • Sustaining an environment of learning and insights.
  • Continuing the annual rhythm.
  • Striking a balance between the internal and informational.
  • Embracing both individual development and systemic improvement.
  • Maintaining St George’s House and Windsor Castle as an ideal location to:
    • give space for reflection
    • provide a safe and confidential environment
    • offer opportunities to challenge one’s thinking and practice
    • bring challenge and stimulation from a range of colleagues and experiences.
  • Enabling emergent possibilities and new initiatives that may be expanded beyond the WLD forum.
  • Balancing diverse attendance in terms of gender, experience, public and private sector, practitioners and advisers, employed and self-employed.
  • Limiting participant numbers to enable deeper dialogue.
  • Encouraging leadership networks and new collegiate relationships.

We will use various approaches including mindfulness, contracting, small working groups, plenary sessions, reflection and review, and mini 'expert' inputs from attendees themselves.

Sessions will be professionally moderated, primarily by members of the new custodian group. Nick Ellerby will be guardian of the overall direction of the process, while Duncan Enright, Hazel Mackenzie and Eirian Lewis will all act as moderators and facilitators. The administration of The Windsor Dialogue will be managed by Eirian Lewis.

We will attract a diverse mix of people. A majority will be directly leading in their organisational world; they will include board members or senior post holders of organisations. The balance of attendees will comprise experienced leadership advisers, coaches, educators and development practitioners, some of them freelance. Others will be thought leaders and writers, pushing boundaries and aiming to influence emerging practice by fostering new forms of leadership in particular fields and specialisms.

Those who attend the Dialogue will be presented with, and asked to contribute provocative questions, exploring and reflecting on these with others who share a sense of inquiry, willingness to learn, and are open to fresh ideas about leadership.

Ground Rules

  • Attendees must be available for the whole period of the Dialogue.
  • Chatham House rule of confidentiality.
  • Absolutely no sales pitches.
  • Open to listening and learning – bring questions rather than answers – though we want attendees to have opinions of course!

There will be a broad theme each year, without being prescriptive about the detailed content of the Dialogue, allowing its focus to emerge with input from those attending.

Historical Context – Developing the New Chapter

The following provides brief background information for anyone interested in the recent history of the WLD, which was first established in 2001 as an annual residential event held in St George’s House and historic meeting rooms within Windsor Castle.

The event was developed as a partnership between the Church of England, The Industrial Society, the Centre for Tomorrow’s Company and the Windsor Leadership Trust. Chris Talbot, a senior civil servant and HR consultant, was its long-term convener.

Since its inception WLD has encouraged like-minded, and sometimes unlike-minded individuals, who may meet on the programme and share common interests or areas of inquiry to develop these and shape new clusters of activity and development opportunities. Many previous participants have formed ongoing dialogue processes with those they meet at Windsor Castle.

The Dialogue has benefited from a diverse representation of sectors, organisations and perspectives in the individuals who participate. Sectors have spanned national retail businesses, government departments, international leadership development communities, business schools, institutes, regulators, social enterprise organisations, third sector, armed forces, health and social care, art and media, religion, law and criminal justice, and many more.

In 2011 the organising role was combined with that of Chairperson and passed to Robin Field-Smith, who brought many years of commitment to leadership thinking and practice with a background in public service. Stephen Adamson continued his invaluable role in holding the facilitation lead.

In July 2013 Robin managed an effective transition to a new group who are passionate to sustain the WLD, build on the original aim (see above) and evolve a new chapter relevant for the 21st century’s second decade and beyond. A new custodian group was formed of Audrey Birt, Nick Ellerby, John Knights, Eirian Lewis and Bill Tate, each as volunteer contributors who had all been participants over a number of years. They shaped and facilitated the 2014 WLD which prototyped a different approach which was very well received by those participating.

Bill, Audrey and John have now stepped down as custodians and we thank them for their contribution over the last few years. We have two new custodians for 2019 - Duncan Enright and Hazel Mackenzie.

For 2019 the custodian group is Duncan, Eirian, Hazel and Nick.

The Aim of the Windsor Leadership Dialogue

For senior leaders from a range of different organisations to exchange views on the type of leadership needed to sustain a successful future, and to recognise that they all have an important contribution to make and something to learn from others.

To listen respectfully to others, to cultivate and speak your own voice, to suspend your opinions about others - these bring out the intelligence that lives at the very centre of ourselves - the intelligence that exists when we are alert to possibilities around us and thinking freshly. David Bohm

The Custodian Group

The following paragraphs aim to offer a flavour of their background and interests. We also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of their respective organisations to the organisation and development of the WLD, particular the invaluable support of Pauline Wood at TEAL Consulting.

Nick Ellerby is a pioneer of whole person learning, and implementing inquiry and human relations approaches to leader development and deep culture change. Nick is co-director of The Oasis School of Human Relations, a UK based learning and leadership organisation with a global reach; Senior Advisor to the UNGC/EFMD Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative; Member of the IFB Advisory Council; and co-facilitator and designer of the International Innovation Collaboratory for international business schools and global companies. He is author of Developing Effective Relationships and Peer Learning in Organisations, co-author of A Guide to Authentic Collaboration, and contributor to A Call to Engagement: Globally Responsible Leadership, The Collaboratory and Learning for Tomorrow.; M: 07767 254 303

Duncan Enright has been a senior director with over 30 years' experience in the publishing industry, as well as a decade as a Vice Chair and Non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust. Duncan is an experienced director, influencer and communicator who has been both elected and appointed to senior roles in NHS, policy and local government.

Duncan embarked on a career in scientific, professional and medical publishing, spending 20 years with Reed Elsevier companies including Pergamon Press, Butterworths and Elsevier. Occupying roles in new product commissioning, marketing, and senior management, he led international teams of editors and marketers and grew his divisions organically. Duncan is a graduate of the senior management programme run for Reed Elsevier by Templeton College, Oxford.

In 2008 Duncan became head of the British National Formulary (BNF), a joint venture between professional bodies including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association. After five successful years, he left to run a specialist publishing firm, Evidence-based Networks, producing medical references and providing support and consultancy for other information providers. He is also a director of leadership development company LeaderShape.; M: 07721 419546

Eirian Lewis is the Managing Director of TEAL Consulting, and is an experienced consultant and facilitator specialising in systems thinking, leadership, process improvement and change. His focus is the delivery of improved business performance to achieve competitive advantage through people and processes. He has considerable experience in leading and co-creating change to raise business performance. He is particularly interested in transformational leadership, collaborative working and its implications for leadership, and in a time of constant change what can systems thinking offer leaders. He is the current Chairman of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.; M: 07803 294 204

Hazel Mackenzie is an experienced coach, facilitator and developer with 38 years of experience working across health and public services. A nurse by background, she has held several clinical, academic, managerial and policy posts both in the UK and abroad. For the last 17 years Hazel's career has focused on building leadership capability and capacity across systems. In April 2017, she left her post as Head of the National Leadership Unit (NLU) for the NHS to establish her own consultancy.

Building on her experience, Hazel's work focusses on individual, team and organisational development. She has a Masters in Coaching and Mentoring Practice from Oxford Brookes University; a Certificate in Advanced Coaching Practice and accreditation as a Team Coach. Qualified in a wide range of psychometric tools, she is registered as a Level A psychological tester with the British Psychological Society and as an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation.

Hazel has a broad range of facilitation experience with teams from frontline to government level. This has included work on strategy development; board effectiveness; developing new teams; cross sector teams; conflict management; mediation; development workshops and longer-term team coaching.

Hazel is passionate about development and has an ability to quickly build trust and work with what matters to the person.; M: 07867 382 348