I will never forget my first meeting with Ian. Manchester, early evening, I was already tired; too tired to realise that this meeting would influence the rest of my life.
It was 1995, I was embarking upon the two year MSc in Management Development, for which Ian was the Programme Director. My fellow students were a mix of Senior figures in the Private and Public Sectors, and some high earning, self employed consultants.
We were an impatient, hyper-active and over competitive group. Movie buffs might have described us as a fearsome mixture of the Expendables and the Wild Bunch. I was one of the worst, more of a ‘Despicable Me’ character. Action Learning didn’t mean much to me. My thinking was dominated by the letters M, S and C and by calculating fee increases.
Into this maelstrom came a gentle, blue eyed Hobbit. He seemed unarmed. We hadn’t realised that actually Ian had super powers; like one of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ian’s super powers came from his belief in, and his expertise in Action Learning. Thus began our journey. Two AL filled years later it ended, not in Mordor, but in Graduation.
During that time Ian demonstrated the most skillful Consultancy skills. He communicated expertly, he listened patiently, his little nudges were delivered with precision timing. But we expected that. We were paying handsomely for it. What I admired most about Ian’s practice of Action Learning are things, which I still today, admire most about the man.
Risk taking - Ian risked unleashing a ferocious power - my / our determined commitment
Courage - Ian had the courage to let us run - even in unpredictable or undesirable ways
Trust - Ian demonstrated huge trust in us to battle our way back to terra firma
Love - My first working location was Belfast and my last was Baghdad. I don’t often use this word in a working context. I am not sure if I ever have used it. However, those of us who have been fortunate enough to have experienced Ian Hall’s professional expertise, will also, I believe, have experienced his warmth, his gentleness, his strength, his Love.
When I heard about the Lex Dilworth Award, naturally I researched Lex Dilworth. He seems like he was a wonderful person, a General, a Leader, someone who cared so much about others. Ian Hall is a similar breed. Ian’s work has, through his Clients and his Students, like me, influenced thousands of individuals in many countries. In my own case, in around thirty countries. All of us, me most especially, owe Ian a debt of gratitude.
May I take this opportunity to thank you Ian, for so very much. Finally, may I add that I am proud to have known Ian Hall, happy to call him ‘friend’, proud to have worked with him, fortunate to have learned from him, and delighted that he is being recognised in this way. I am certain that Ian is a worthy Lex Dilworth Award recipient.