Turbocharging Performance masterclass lifts off

As a global community, we all have a laser-like focus on how to achieve business success through our people. People are at the heart of a business and this requires us to find, keep, upskill, and deploy people globally in the most effective ways possible.


This article is taken from the Summer 2024 issue of

Think Global People magazine

Click on the cover to access the digital edition.
View your copy of the Summer 2024 issue of Think Global People magazine.
In keeping with these objectives, the Turbocharging Performance masterclass, held in April at Henley Business School and trailed in the ‘Think Global People’ special global leadership supplement, aimed to be a groundbreaking, immersive experience for everyone attending.Turbocharging Performance was hosted by Amira Kohler, from People Stuff, alongside Dr Phil Renshaw and Dr Jenny Robinson, from Coaching On The Go. They brought together some of the brightest and most curious business minds to explore how organisations could turbocharge business performance and optimise their talent through new thinking and progressive leadership.  We caught up with Amira, Jenny and Phil to hear about the Masterclass and some of its key takeaways. 

Key themes from the Turbocharging Performance masterclass  

One test of success for any event is whether those who didn’t manage to attend felt they missed out. Many global people managers have asked us, “How did it go?” and “What did I miss?” Here we bring you some highlights and key outcomes. 

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AI and ethics

Open any news or social media platform and you’ll be aware that AI is here to stay and destined to change the world irrevocably. Most of us know that much, but Stuart Hearn, HR tech entrepreneur, board adviser and start-up mentor, in 25 short minutes blew the doors off the possible impact of future technology and AI. He demonstrated a number of earth-shattering technologies that are set to rock the business and HR world, revealing how they will impact our workplaces forever.  Stuart opened our eyes to the wider philosophical and practical aspects of AI and its impact on the future of work. He recommended people need to be continuously asking themselves and their organisations the ‘why’ behind the expanding use of AI; asking ‘why’ they wanted to use AI and what value it would bring to their organisations, their people and our wider society.Stuart made it clear that as an HR tech entrepreneur and investor, he sees huge potential for future technology to improve the world of work. But he also believes HR professionals and leaders must be demanding of both software providers and themselves to make responsible, ethical and people-driven decisions about the deployment of AI. It was the perfect event-opening speech, setting the scene for two days of energised discussion across a range of fascinating leadership topics.   

Performance management and new diagnostic approaches

Continuing with the theme of ‘why’, Amira used her deep expertise in performance management to help participants examine their prevailing assumptions of performance and the differing approaches. She briefly recounted the origins of performance management in Ford’s Model T factory when processes were built for a time when organisations were slower-paced, predictable and hierarchical. Amira also demonstrated how this legacy still forms the basis of too many performance management approaches today, which explains why it is often cited as the single-most disliked and dysfunctional HR process. Participants then used the Turbocharging Performance Diagnostic Tool to examine the appropriateness of their approach in light of their unique organisational culture and circumstances. The discussion ensured that ideas were practical and applicable. Several participants noted the deeply held assumptions currently constraining innovative decisions in their HR practices and workplaces. 

Wellbeing and leadership

Another highlight was a talk by LaBarron Burwell, wellness expert and mental hygiene advocate with Hol Fruit Consulting and the University of Virginia. LaBarron lit up the room with an impactful and inspiring talk about the connections between wellbeing, performance and leadership. LaBarron led us through a brilliant and immersive mental health hygiene exercise where we learned critical techniques to enhance our mental hygiene and create positive self-directed practices. Participants gained some practical tools and practice to stay mentally fit and healthy. Issues of culture and wellness naturally led to the discussion of leadership and how people up and down the organisation set the relational tone for work. Phil and Jenny helped participants to understand that not everyone who bears a top title exhibits leadership and, conversely, it is not important to hold a top title to be a leader. In disentangling ideas of leaders and leadership they were able to demonstrate that everyone can be a leader. Then, against this idea of everyone contributing to leadership, they explored the skills of being a leader-who-coaches. 

Judging the success of the Turbocharging Performance masterclass  

It was interesting for us to reflect on what we had achieved with the masterclass and critique our successes against our original aims. We knew we wanted to gather an incredible roster of global experts to speak and contribute to the masterclass on a range of pressing subjects affecting performance, talent and leadership. And we succeeded. We were delighted to attract amazing speakers who opened our eyes and widened our perspectives, including: 
  • Josephina Smith, reward director, British Airways 
  • Dr Duncan Brown, independent adviser, author and professor  
  • Emma Loisel, owner and CEO of Volcano Coffee, board adviser and investor  
  • Deborah Frost, entrepreneur, turnaround CEO, non-executive and board adviser. 
We wanted to appeal to participants from diverse industries and organisations representing HR and business leadership. “Wow” is all we can say on this. The spark and energy in the room were palpable. Our attendees included the COO of World Rugby, the deputy director of NATO and the head of global HR for MUFG bank. It all made for a heady cocktail of expertise, energy and intellectual curiosity.We wanted to meet in an amazing venue designed as a hotbed for learning, collaboration and creativity. Henley Business School fitted the bill brilliantly, providing a beautiful and functional space for our masterclass, winning plaudits from all our participants. We wanted to discuss the fact that, to thrive, today’s organisations and leaders need to cope with an increasingly complex, intertwined, messy, global, dispersed, tech-enabled world of work. Recognising that this was an ambitious and somewhat abstract objective, we believe we succeeded. During the masterclass we explored a range of opportunities for participants whose companies are stuck with outdated HR processes and notions of leadership due to an over-reliance and belief in the ‘neat and tidy’ world of ‘evidence-based management’.Throughout the masterclass we challenged ourselves to consider whether applying the lens of complex adaptive systems to our organisations, processes and people would reveal new insights and opportunities for HR and the wider organisation. We wanted to test our very own Turbocharging Performance Model and Diagnostic during the masterclass, designed to enable participants to critique their organisation and explore what they might want to evolve or change. We were pleased to kick around our Model and Diagnostic and road test it with participants from a wide range of organisations, including Birmingham University, a medical charity, an HR consultancy and a tech start-up. We’ll improve the model and tool ready for when we use it with the wide range of organisations we coach and consult with. Finally, we hoped to partner with some progressive sponsors who would really get the relevance of our masterclass and enable us to spread the message and learning wider. We built a great partnership with ‘Think Global People’ and Reed Learning and cannot thank our sponsors enough for giving us a platform to publish our thoughts.   Of course, it’s our participants who need to have the final word on the event’s success: “This is the best training and masterclass I have ever been to and, believe me, I have been to many!”  “Jenny, Phil and Amira assembled some incredibly insightful speakers and put together a truly outstanding masterclass. It really did do what it said on the tin, 'Turbocharging Performance: People-powered leadership to maximise talent'“ 

View the Turbocharging Performance supplement in the Spring 2024 issue of

Think Global People magazine

Click on the cover to access the digital edition.

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