Are You Ready For

Our bold approach to leader development is a cross-pollination of academic research, behavioural principles, customized learning experiences and our deep understanding of human behaviour.

The result: immersive and developmental programs that are immediately applicable and effective.

An Effective Approach to Development

We Build Leadership Muscle

Leadership is not just cognitive, it is physical as well. Just as you can’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book, leaders can’t develop their leadership skills by only understanding concepts and theories. They need to experience new skills viscerally in order to feel their impact and begin the process of learning how to apply them. We call this developing the “muscle memory” of leadership. And it works.

Stake Your Reputation on Us

For 20 years we have been the experts in scaling leadership development programs for complex, global organizations. We have built strong leadership cultures across multiple business lines and levels of leadership. We have the infrastructure and resources to help you move forward. Just ask any of our long-term clients.

Results for Real

Our transformative process is born out of a combination of academic research, adult learning theory, behavioural psychology and our own raw experiences from our own lives. The result: developmental experiences that are informed, relevant and effective, producing dramatic, lasting behavioural change in people—and their organizations.

Why Refinery Is Different

Our Approach That Gets Results

Our work goes far beyond where traditional development programs stop which is based on Passive Learning approaches. This is why we can boldly say that Refinery participants can take leadership concepts and immediately put them to work.

Who We Work With

We partner with organizations that view their people as their greatest assets. They require a bold, honest partner to transform their people into leaders who inspire and motivate while maintaining a core level of self-awareness and deep understanding of the world they work in.

Our motto of “Get Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable” is something we stand by in every client interaction. We don’t always tell our clients what they want to hear, but we will always be honest about what we see as their real challenges. And then we work alongside them to work through them.

Our motto of “Get Comfortable Getting Uncomfortable” is something we stand by in every client interaction. We don’t always tell our clients what they want to hear, but we will always be honest about what we see as their real challenges. And then we work alongside them to work through them.

Work We’ve Done

International Mining
Company

Leadership Development

Fortune 500 Resource
Company

Frontline Leadership Development

Canadian Communications
Company

Leadership Development

Travel Technology
Company

Strategic Planning

Areas of Expertise

Leadership Development

We dig, poke, play, and challenge the norms. We create the space for people to get real with us—about their conflicts, their biases, their personal blind spots. Because we know that when leaders understand themselves, they begin to understand others.

Team Alignment

Getting teams aligned requires trust, honesty and healthy conflict. We probe to find out what is happening behind the scenes, and work to create an environment where team members can feel safe to challenge each other – and in turn commit to a common goal.

Strategic Planning

Before you decide what to do, you need to know where you’re going–and what’s standing in your way. Our strategic planning process is bold, different and gets rapid clarity on direction. No fluffy b**s***., just good, honest plans.

Inclusive Leadership

Our approach to DEI goes beyond unconscious bias, identity awareness and psychological safety. Our in-depth work helps Senior Leaders understand the strategic nature of DEI in order to maintain a competitive advantage.

Executive Coaching

We help leaders to understand the difference between their intentions and their impact on others. Through our coaching programs, leaders learn new ways of communicating, acting, perceiving and ultimately leading in a constantly changing world.

What Our Clients Have to Say

Teck Resources

What was the original reason that you were looking for support with leadership development at Teck?
In 2010 Teck recognized that a high percentage of our current front-line supervisors were due to retire over the next five years, and that their successors would not have time to adequately prepare them to be effective supervisors. Teck was also experiencing a parallel demographic shift in our hourly workforce which expected a more respectful and collaborative style from their leaders. We recognized that our current supervisor training was not working, and that we needed to shift two things, 1) our approach to the development of our leaders, and 2) our leadership culture overall.

Why did Teck choose Refinery?
Prior to 2010 Teck had engaged with several different consultants for supervisor training and development, that resulted in minimal net change in skills, beliefs and culture. We determined that classroom learning was not effective for participants who were used to being on their feet outdoors most of the day. Refinery was chosen for several reasons: 1) because they firmly believed that leadership should be cultivated through cohort-based, modular and experiential learning rather than taught in a formal classroom setting; 2) the experiential learning would engage participants in very different activities that would generate engagement and discussion about their emotional experience and how they might channel that learning back at the workplace as leaders, and 3) Refinery stated that they would only undertake the work if they were permitted to undertake a detailed discovery. This included input from leaders at all levels including hourly and the union as well as input from all locations.

How has the partnership with Refinery made a difference in the leadership culture at Teck?
Refinery has truly been our partner in this 11-year journey. At times the partnership has been strained by market economics of the mining industry, by changes in leadership on both sides, by changing expectations for program objectives as well as differences of opinions on how and when to evolve the programs. But throughout all of this Teck and Refinery have sought to find common ground through respectful dialogue and collaboration. And, the result has always deepened the partnership and been a model of the very qualities and behaviours we expect from the program facilitators and our supervisors.
The impact of our partnership has been significant. While we still have work to do to become a true learning company our culture has shifted from disrespectful yelling and commanding to respectful collaboration. The best example of this shift came from a comment from the SVP Coal Business Unit a few years back. There were a few senior leaders pushing hard for ROI data on the impact of our development programs with Refinery. However, when presented with the process to collect this data, this SVP shared that we already had the only real data we required: since the inception of our leadership programs, Teck’s safety standards had gotten better on every metric—year after year. This leader went on to state that he believed our leaders were more confident and more capable of having a conversation about difficult safety situation which is exactly our expectation of our front-line supervisors.

What has surprised you most about the experience of working with Refinery?
This question makes me laugh, and will do so for anyone who has ever attended a Refinery event of any kind–even a progress update meeting. Surprise is what you expect from Refinery. Any meeting with anyone from Refinery includes the unexpected, the bizarre, the weird and the wonderful moment when you sigh with delight at a newly found awareness, appreciation, knowledge, insight and always an emotional hook! I dare you to try and sit on your hands and not contribute, grow and learn…it is just not feasible.
And perhaps what is truly surprising is that even thought I know that this is the DNA of Refinery, and I am ready, on my toes, they still continue to surprise me. Creativity is their norm, deep curious caring for others and their requirements is the way they roll. And it is infectious.

What would you tell someone who is considering working with Refinery about what to expect?
Initially it might feel like you are not actually getting exactly what you asked for. Trust their creative process and resist the need to see, touch and feel every detail in advance. In the long range you will get more than you asked for, and many things you didn’t. Be prepared for their tendency to go slow at the start in order to go fast later. Because of the care that they take in getting to learn about your organization, your people will assume that Refinery consultants are internal full-time employees of your company as well the role models of what they teach.
Oh and a one more thing…whatever you expect of your people, they will expect of you and will not hesitate to call you on it, no matter how senior you are. Refinery has contributed to the environment that holds us all accountable for our leadership behaviours.

Hang on and enjoy!

Barry Billings
Director of Talent Management

HRTech Association

HR Tech Group was tasked with a sector-wide initiative to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in British Columbia.  Our goal was to increase the attraction, retention, and advancement of under-represented groups in skilled occupations in BC’s technology sector.  Through this multi-year project, we implemented several pilot diversity, inclusion and indigenization strategies. As part of this project, Refinery was chosen to design, develop and deliver training programs for two distinct audiences:

  1. Inclusive Leadership Program for HR or organizational leaders with an interest in fostering diversity and inclusion practises within their organization.
  2. Inclusive Change Agent Program for leaders open to challenging their own perspectives and creating more productive and inclusive teams.

Refinery focused first on the individual, and helping them understand their own unconsciousness biases, how privilege has shown up in their life, and how that has not necessarily been the same for underrepresented groups. They created space for the participants to the hold up a mirror and see and understand these difficult realities. Many people express discomfort and fear of having conversations about barriers and challenges faced by underrepresented groups. Refinery created opportunity for important dialogue with people from underrepresented groups and the participants told us that this experience removed the fear for them and increased their confidence in facilitating future conversations. Participants walked away with the understanding that in order to make change in their organizations and society, we need to have these conversations. Refinery then focused the training on organizations and their systems. Participants learned to look at what organizational structures are impeding diversity and inclusion.

We chose Refinery because of their excellent reputation for providing deep, experiential learning, and their previous experience developing and delivering inclusive leadership training. They have proven to be a very professional and flexible partner, open to input and adjustments as we moved through the pilots.

Refinery delivered profound learning experiences.

Stephanie Hollingshead

CEO

BC Milk Marketing Association

With Refinery since: 2019

BC Milk Marketing Association (BCMMA) was seeking a partner who could design and deliver a development plan that would connect their board, their leaders and the organization. Through a discovery process we identified key developmental areas required that would support each other, and be able to work either simultaneously or consecutively, depending on the organization’s timing preferences.

Refinery customized the approach they used with us and were easy to work with–they got to know us so well we didn’t have to explain things. They helped us to realize that the strategic process needs to involve the entire leadership team. They forced us to look at uncomfortable challenges and helped us acknowledge there were a lot of things standing in the way from where we were to where we wanted to be.

Before Refinery we didn’t have a plan on how to deliver development for our people, and didn’t realize many of the things that we needed to improve upon. They created a plan and outlined the building blocks of how they were going to help us improve our entire organization.

Robert Delage, CPA, CMA
General Manager

Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

‘What makes Refinery different | When did you work with Refinery?’ 2019
The Refinery Group really knows how to design and deliver learning experiences that replicate real life, are long lasting and far more impactful than simple role playing. They really force you to explore how you can apply new skills and practice them in an environment that is safe. The team is highly professional and creative in their approach to leadership development.

I highly recommend them.

Doris Hall
Former Vice President, People, Culture & Learning

Insights

Safety in Mining Part 1- Susan we have a problem

Safety in Mining Part 1- Susan we have a problem

“Susan, we have a problem at our Lost Wolf Mine Site*.  Despite the fact that we implemented an intensive safety program last year, we continue to see a rise in critical safety incidents and fatalities.  Can you help us?” This request was not one that we commonly...

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