Team building the reservist way


22 / 3 / 2016 9am

In this blog Joanne Harrison, deputy director of workforce and organisational development at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, shares how taking part in an 'Executive Stretch' event helped team members to better support reservists, build on leadership skills and make effective decisions in challenging situations.

In June 2015, employees from the trust embarked on a challenging and exciting weekend with the local Army base in Catterick, near York. The team from the workforce development department were put through our paces being mentally and physically tested when sampling the training of an Army reservist.

Most people had little idea of what reservist colleagues did during training and annual camp. Through sharing some of the experiences our reservist colleagues regularly undertake it allowed us to better support reservists, and the event provided an opportunity to develop the necessary leadership skills to tackle challenging tasks.

On arrival, we were immediately separated and handed a kit bag, a tarpaulin and ration packs. Building shelters (or ‘bashas’), cooking rations and sleeping in the woods became the order of the evening. Following a night under the bashas, we were woken at dawn for a full day of training tasks, executed with military precision and timing. At the end of each session there was an opportunity to review what went well and what could be improved. The team noted how the weekend enhanced our ability to make effective decisions quickly, lead with confidence and reflect on our work.

Pushed out of our comfort zone, we found the Executive Stretch weekend intense but empowering. Together, we now feel confident to plan and drive projects back at the office forward with the military-style strategy practiced over the weekend. Many of us were able to go beyond our perceived limits both under the command of others and when practicing leadership themselves. The new found confidence developed during the Executive Stretch was noticeable on our return to the trust.

Through the links with our local base, we were was able to give an invaluable training experience to members of staff that both developed leadership within the trust and has enhanced support for our reservist employees.

If you would like to learn more about the Executive Stretch exercise then get in touch at

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