MatchFit CLIMB: The Leadership Model for High Performance and Measurable Results

What is MatchFit CLIMB?

For organisations to compete effectively in today’s highly dynamic environments, they need eloquence across three core competences: leadership, communication and culture. The MatchFit model series has been designed to address these key areas at the heart of high performance.

According to the development goals to be addressed, a bespoke programme can be designed from the three MatchFit elements: HUMAN (culture), TEAM (communication) and CLIMB (leadership), using these models as lenses to explore and explain what is happening in terms of dynamics.

The CLIMB model came about as a response to MatchFit’s belief that many leadership training and development programmes suffer from the ‘training cliff’, where people participate in a course and the learning then ‘falls off a cliff’ when they walk out the door. Nothing changes, no one does anything differently and organisations spend large budgets without ever really knowing the outcome.

The conversations around how difficult it is to measure development, and how nebulous it is, have been rolling on for years. It is difficult: variables need to be isolated, to start with. If someone attends a training course and then becomes a better manager, is that due to the training, or is it because they simultaneously got a bonus, or experienced something positive in their personal life, and so feel happier, more motivated and engaged in their job? What has made that change happen needs to be specifically recognised.

However, it’s not impossible to agree success criteria before commencing a development programme. In many instances this gets over-complicated, when actually the simple questions are ‘What does success look like to my customer?’ ‘What needs to happen or change in order for us to feel that this had an impact?’

MatchFit Managing Director, Bradley Honnor, explains “The current methodology of learning often doesn’t work, and I can say this from my experience, having been in the industry for a long time. I’ve been a participant, developed solutions and delivered training for many organisations, from blue chip companies through to public sector and SMEs. The philosophy has always been similar: look online for some management training for middle managers, find a ‘From Manager to Leader’ course and then put a number of people through that course. We know the 70/20/10 model which says the way that we learn is 70% on-the-job experience; 20% being coached and only 10% is actually learning in a classroom-type environment. So why should so much money and time be invested in that ten percent?”

“I felt that there had to be something better” 

He continues: “I started to think about ‘what does high performance look like? When we talk about high performing teams and organisations, obviously it can be different in every business or team, but is there a way of breaking down the key principles?’

“CLIMB was built around this concept. Rather than delivering a training ‘day’, CLIMB has always been a programme, aimed at the very top of an organisation, all the way through the whole business, to include people from lower grades and junior roles; ideally with everybody participating to a greater or lesser extent. This ensures it becomes integrated into the culture and everybody is aware of why the ‘climb’ is taking place and what part they play in supporting it.”

For every client, a written CLIMB programme is specifically tailored each time. It is not about a standard training presentation. 

The journey is unique for every team that engages in it, and for every individual within each team. The agenda and interventions are set by taking the key stakeholders through a detailed initial stage to uncover the root of what needs to be addressed, but the programme evolves and adapts as it rolls out. The team identifies success criteria as they move through, and each individual can pick out elements unique to themselves as well.

This is a consultative process of experiential learning, so MatchFit’s role is to facilitate, rather than just ‘train’. This requires a lot of skill and experience from the MatchFit team to deliver. The client becomes a partner in the development agenda, and participants are asked to identify what’s not working from their own perspective and invited to consider what they might do to resolve the issues, with support and guidance. This approach achieves higher engagement, and suffers far less resistance.

MatchFit carried out extensive research to design the model and found some key components common to all high-performing teams, regardless of the industry or environment. Principally, there was always a sense of commitment; people had the appetite to be better developed, to grow and challenge themselves, their thinking and each other. There was a culture of ‘good isn’t good enough, we can be better’, a pursuit of excellence.

Leadership behaviour went hand-in-hand with commitment in creating the CLIMB programme. This was not just about a job title – it was about the people consistently seen being champions, and leading by their actions. They were overcoming problems, challenges, obstacles, politics, dynamics and resistance because of the commitment and leadership qualities they showed.

Similarly, the research identified intensity, motivation and belief. Fundamentally, it’s not enough to be really committed for a week and then lose motivation. That is an easy trap for organisations to fall into: to embark on a project that everyone is excited by, and then months later, people stop going, because there isn’t enough intensity. If you think about anyone who is highly successful in their field and then look at their level of intensity, sometimes it is even so high as to be detrimental to their relationships and the people around them. They are completely obsessive. It’s a very powerful component in success, but it does need to be balanced.

Motivation is an obvious component, but it is not always so simple to identify and harness. And then finally, there is belief.

Bradley expands: “We all know that high performing teams, individuals or organisations have a belief that they are world class, or their product is top of their field. If we don’t believe we can be better, do more, win that deal, negotiate that price or turn this customer relationship around, then we’ve already lost.”

The CLIMB concept, therefore, is about the pursuit of excellence as a journey, understanding that we can always be better, whether we are striving for the top of the mountain, or happy supporting the team at base camp. The programme is about better management or leadership, but also about consolidating, reflecting and taking time for self, if that’s more appropriate.

Ultimately, it’s about creating an environment where a person can thrive, according to their own value system, and develop their role and self, to maximise how they experience their working environment, and their success within it.