• Phil Keetley

Online Leadership Training (BC Guide)

With the pandemic raging last year, I rewrote my British Canoeing Guide Leadership course to be delivered online. I admit that I was somewhat sceptical. Would an online environment work? Would the participants get involved and achieve the desired outcomes without a face to face discussion?

(Interesting photo - orders being given - but who has noticed that the kayak is sinking?)


Needless to say, it actually went rather well. The eight hours of contact time are broken up in to two hour blocks (with breaks!). This actually worked rather well, the time between the sessions allowing for proper reflection, generating some fascinating questions and discussion, that the eight hour course simply does not allow for. This slightly less intense approach provides for a more relaxed course.


I run the course on MS Teams, providing a video platform for interaction, but Teams also allows me to upload course materials, background and reference material so that the participants can access it at any time. I include a number of reflective practise sessions, and Teams creates the environment that allows the participants to do the exercises at their own pace. Teams allows for messaging, so we can create a small group that can chat, discuss and consider the material throughout the course period - not just when scheduled.


The course itself is actually rather fascinating. Having now run it numerous times, both face to face and online, I find the course content a really interesting. The theory provides a background, to which we all can add our lived experience - bringing the theory in to life and making it accessible to everyone. I try very hard to ensure that we use the combination of everyones wealth of knowledge, and I always learn something, often significant from each time I run this course.


The course itself explores the British Canoeing Leadership model, which I have rather reworked to be somewhat more logical and accesible. We look at types of leadership, styles of leadership, influences upon you as the leader, the sorts of behaviours that optimise team performance, the decision that we as leaders have to make and how we make them, and how leadership can, so easily go so very wrong! I use my experience as a leader, both as a senior army officer with a wealth of operational leadership around the globe, as well as my leadership experience as a professional outdoor guide and leader to facilitate the course; the real learning though, comes from exploring the themes and topics and reflecting on how they affect you as a leader.

In summary, I really enjoy facilitating this course, and actually consider that the online version might be better than a full on day. The course is obviously perfect for anyone wishing to become a British Canoeing Guide. It is much more than that though, any British Canoeing leader should take the opportunity to further develop their knowledge of leadership (it also accrues 10 CPD points).. The content is not solely focussed on kayaking/ canoeing, and is just as relevant to anyone working in a leadership role (or wishing to become a leader) in any adventure sport. Indeed, I have had several people attend the course with a view to furthering their leadership knowledge, with no reference to paddling at all. Leadership is a universal topic; we can all be better leaders - and anyone attending the course will benefit from a deeper knowledge of both leadership theory, and themselves as a leader.


If you are interested in the course, you can find dates for future courses here - or do feel free to contact me directly to discuss.


One of our recent participants, Andy Macpherson had this to say:


"Did the BC Guide Leadership course recently having previously been on a trip to Shetland guided by Phil and others. I am not a qualified paddlesports leader but an active informal or peer paddler so for me the interest was more for thinking about how to make decisions better as part of being a safer, better paddler having more fun. Also for interest in leadership off the water in work and volunteering. The course surpassed my expectations and Phil’s delivery was excellent. I recommend this course highly to paddle leaders but also for anyone who plans most or all of their own paddle trips, and also for anyone with an interest in leadership (aka “it’s just you”) in a work, volunteering or other context. Also great when paddling opportunities are limited due to covid."