Dove Nest Group

My Internship with Leadership Experts Dove Nest Group

I stepped out of my car into some beautiful Cumbrian sunshine after a long morning drive.

This was the first day of a month internship working with Dove Nest. I opened the glass door into the office… and stepped right into the 9am sales meeting surrounded by the whole team! The phrase “in at the deep end” rolled around in my head as I said hello to everyone. I wondered if it might have been a test to remember everyone’s names later.

After the meeting I was shown to my desk by Jess and Hanna, the two occupational psychologists-in-training here at Dove Nest, and then off to a meeting on marketing communications. This was my first opportunity to see how people at the company like to operate. The meeting was free-flowing with lots of discussion and good humour. Even though I was surrounded by experts in coaching and leadership, I didn’t feel overwhelmed and my contributions were welcome.

Throughout this first week I had chances to talk with the directors, each an expert of their own domain. I learned about some of Dove Nest’s largest clients and projects, and I got the impression that every client was treated with a lot of care and attention – all the programmes were bespoke, and I would say each had their own flair.

In typical intern fashion, I asked as many questions as I could – I’m a firm believer that you should ask as much as you can in the first few weeks of your time with a business, because this is the time you can be forgiven for asking any ‘silly’ questions, and you might just come at something from a new angle because you haven’t yet “gone native” as it were. Also in typical intern fashion, I got quite used to the team’s tea and coffee preferences…!

Throughout the second and third weeks I got involved hands-on with some graduate cohorts from two Dove Nest clients. I like to think each programme achieved a balance of ‘business’ and ‘fun’ in its own way, challenging the grads on creativity, leadership and emotional intelligence through a series of outdoor and indoor tasks. Most memorable was the infamous Ambiguity Exercise – ‘infamous’ because it transcends the Dove Nest venues, sending the participants all over Windermere in pursuit of their goal, and no two Ambiguity Exercises work out the same. I won’t give much away about it, on the off chance that you as the reader get involved in one of these exercises – but suffice it to say this is Dove Nest’s solution to measuring leadership in the tricky situations where both the solution and the problem are unknown – and it works elegantly.

Whilst here I also had the good fortune to join in Dove Nest’s 35th Anniversary event – a festival of activities, discussions and interviews with journalists and clients alike. I had the opportunity to speak with people working for local papers and magazines, some from local businesses, even some who were participants in past Dove Nest programmes who are now considering programmes for their own staff. The day time was busy, filled with all sorts of activities – climbing, caving, canoeing, archery, clay pigeon shooting and 4×4 driving… amongst others. And in the evening, great dinner, funny speeches, interesting discussion, and perhaps a little too much beer and brandy.

I’m now in the final week of the four as I write this, and it’s shaping up to be a bit more of a peaceful week with some time to reflect on everything I’ve learned. In & amongst the excitement I’ve been getting involved with all sorts of programme feedback, psychometric tools like Firo-B and EQ-i, and literature supporting Psyence’s new CreativityQ tool designed to assess someone’s creative style and drive whilst at work. The inspiration behind CreativityQ is that every person is creative when solving problems, in their own way – they just need to be channelled in the right way!

After this week it’s back to sunny old Birmingham (or as sunny as the British summer gets, anyway), studying for my MSc, level A/B Psychometrics, and finishing off my dissertation. I hope my little write-up has been interesting, and perhaps it’s given you a bit of insight into the day-to-day life of the great people who work in this interesting and beautiful corner of Britain.

I could have thrown a pun in there about the “hills and valleys” of business performance. But, it’s probably better if I don’t…

Ok. It’s out of my system now.

Jacob Minihan

MSc Work Psychology & Business at Aston Business School