Léa Cléret

Day in the life – Léa Cléret

Léa Cléret, CEO, shares a day in the life of working at Leadership Trust

I normally wake up with first light, so depending on where I am in the world, the time can vary. I love how peaceful early mornings are, everything is still and quiet. I start my day with either meditation, yoga, a run, or a walk with the dogs. I usually have my lightbulb moments during those morning sessions, as if my brain were an oven and slow-cooked ideas during my sleep. I am very careful not to read the news or social media in the morning. My brain is my fortune, and I must nurture it carefully. Social media removes the control on the quality and quantity of what I feed it. This impacts my capacity to think and more importantly decide, which is the essence of my job.

When I am at home in France, I really enjoy having breakfast with my father. He is a very wise man and has reached a point in life where only things that really matter are discussed. The topics can sometimes be a bit deep and complex before a cup of tea, but it reminds me that the things I get hung up about are not really that important. It does not mean I stop caring and I go about them with less commitment, it just means I remove the self-induced pressure which impedes the quality of what I do.

The first thing I do when I log into work is catch-up with my colleague Ann. We have a chat to discuss the status of projects or situations. Ann is pretty much my exact opposite: if I am a big blue-sky optimistic thinker, Ann is a rational realist and I love what the balance of our personas produces.

Today, I’m writing the heads of terms for an Intellectual Property Licensing agreement for content which is going to go on to the Learning platform Leadership Trust is developing. I am so excited about the design of this platform: it is based on transformative pedagogy, the adult principles of learning, competency-based learning, and on the fact that leadership development is a complex, lifelong adventure for which we wish to support everyone. It has been quite a few years in the making. This is because we have been reflecting long and hard as to how technology could support and not replace experiential learning to help humans learn to harness their “human-ness”. Finally, it lightbulbed, and now we are moving at great paces to share it with the world. The exciting thing about this is that it allows to completely customise the content for the learner, saving everyone time, and saving the employer money. It also supports HR and L&D professionals in doing their jobs – we know how busy they can be, and anything we can do to remove some workload should be done!

At lunch time I eat. I am French for lunch (English for Breakfast though!) so I like to have a proper meal. It is the time to stop and appreciate food. I don’t always get it right (sometimes it is mismatched leftovers or a weird combination of edibles) but I know (and probably all my colleagues know!) that I am not happy on a dissatisfied or grumbling belly… beware. I also proudly nap if required. I have mastered the art of the 15-minute-deep sleep in any conditions… Tip: it is all about timing. Sleeping during the day can be associated with weakness or laziness, but I am so much more productive after having recharged my batteries.

I love that at Leadership Trust we are the best of both worlds by being a business with a social mission. We have the accountability and agility of a business and the purpose of a charity. Our aim is to raise the overall quality of leadership everywhere. We believe that most of the issues the world is currently encountering can be linked to lack of self-awareness and poor leadership skills. We therefore believe that if we advocate for as many people as we can to grow their abilities to lead, then we will leave the world in a better place than we found it. This has many ramifications: it means we have to be active in the right to access continual professional development, it means we have to advocate effective leadership development as well as drive reflections around leadership, business and life in the future.

In the afternoon, I like to chat with people I know or meet new people. I spend a lot of time ensuring my team is well. The care I have for my colleagues is something I have questioned when people who run their businesses very differently have criticised me for it: “you are too soft!”, “you care too much!”, “it’s business!”. I stand firm because firstly that is just who I am, but also because I believe that this care has hugely contributed to the company being able to weather the COVID storm. I am not saying that we plain sailed through the global sanitary crisis. However I believe that the quality of the relationships we have is what enabled us, without the team falling apart, to deal with the intense emotions which inevitably arise from fear. We know how to disagree and sometimes clumsily express how we feel when we are under pressure without it having any irreparable consequences. I have huge respect and gratitude for everyone I work with. Businesses are a combination of people, processes and products, and just don’t work without one of these elements.

My favourite part of my role is solving a complex puzzle with infinite potential and finite solutions. There are so many things to take into consideration and no real formula. I am the only one who can pilot this ship in this precise moment. There is information I have to find, there are assumptions I have to make, there are things I have to guess, there are things I know, there are things I get completely wrong and I have to compute all of that to keep the fine balance of the living organism the business is. And then just as I think that I have it all sorted, some giant bowling ball comes along and sends everything flying which creates a whole new realm of possibilities and I can start computing again.

My day normally ends with me making a conscious effort to stop. I just get so absorbed I don’t see the clock ticking. This is particularly true at the moment because of the design of the platform.

After work I have two happy places to go to: either the airfield or the stables.

I am finishing up my pilot license, so if the weather is good I head over to the air field. I got into flying because I wanted to be of use in conservation surveying or animal rescue. What I discovered is that flying rewired my brain to think in 3D – fascinating! I also love aviation because mechanical engineering is very relaxing compared to dealing with humans: the plane won’t start because the battery is down, not because it is in a bad mood that day… I don’t need to motivate it to start, I just have to plug it in! It gives my brain and my EQ a rest.

I also have a keen interest in horses. I have set up an organisation to support veterans transition into civilian life with the help of horses. We started with rescue horses and now the quality of our work has attracted the support of some of the biggest breeders who love how we approach performance. (We obviously still work with rescues though!). Our way of working is to fully respect the horse’s mental and physical health – this certainly goes against financial interests. I designed the organisation based on the work I did in my previous life as a behaviour change specialist, and the results are amazing: if you want people to change behaviours, you have to change the system within which they evolve. Our aim is to qualify our main rider to the Olympics with the support of the rest of the team. Hopefully we will qualify for Paris 2024, but if it has to be Los Angeles 4 years later, that is fine: the most important is to not rush Nature.

If I were in an alternate universe and I couldn’t be the Chief Executive for Leadership Trust, I think I’d like to be a ranger or a vet. But it is just as well I am not: I can be very distracted, and I would be too afraid to forget a pair of scissors inside someone after a surgical operation or leave the lions’ gates open!


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