About the Author
Hello, I’m Steve Flinders. I’m a company director, trainer, writer and coach.
I was born in the UK and read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at university though I probably spent as much time there swimming as studying. I then took a gap decade, working as a volunteer in a school in Pakistan, living in (what was then) a remote part of SW Ireland, getting a teaching qualification, teaching English in Sweden, and spending a year walking round Great Britain. Like many people leaving university with few skills other than the ability to speak my own language, I found that teaching was a good way to get work abroad, to meet different kinds of people, and to get some understanding of other countries and cultures. After thirty years, I still like teaching, although I’ve come to believe that the main role of a teacher is not to teach but to encourage and to facilitate learning. I also believe in what the historian Theodore Zeldin calls “the transforming power of conversation”. When we are deeply engaged in conversation, we can forget which language we are speaking. I think there is something for managers to learn from this too.
After meeting my Franco-Italian wife-to-be, Lorenza, I spent all of the 80s living and working in Paris and learnt a bit more about intercultural communication, both professionally and personally, and about management, in the process. In the early 90s, I was invited to become a director of York Associates and so moved back to the UK with Lorenza and our three young sons. York Associates is a training and publishing business whose mission is to help people develop the skills they need to work successfully in international roles, so now I design and deliver various kinds of training to develop the professional language, communication, intercultural and leadership skills of our clients.
I share in the ownership and the running of the company with my fellow directors, Bob Dignen and Fiona Mee; do a lot of the sales and marketing for our company across Europe; give talks at seminars and conferences; write books and articles; and teach the soft skills of communication and management. Because I’ve always been interested in politics, I particularly enjoy working with politicians, civil servants and people in NGOs as well as trades unionists, journalists and (in the private sector) human resources managers. I have a special interest in helping to improve international trade union communication because I’m concerned that so many people across the world lack even the most basic rights or protection in the workplace and need the help in improving their pay and conditions that trade unions are beginning to deliver globally.
I’ve lived in the beautiful city of York for twenty years now and appreciate it more and more as time goes on; and in my spare time, I still like swimming, reading, going to the theatre and opera, getting out of the city, travelling everywhere, talking and - from time to time at least – having transforming conversations.
Steve's Recent Blog Posts
An invitation to lead a webinar for BESIG, the Business English Special Interest Group of IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, prompted me to reflect on this question. I’ve talked before about the first of the two challenges facing Business English teachers – adjusting to the changing profile and [...]
You can more or less base a complete training course – either for language or leadership – on one introductory question: What makes a good manager? Small groups can brainstorm their answers and then report back in plenary. Individuals and the trainer can challenge the suggestions of others. The trainer can then compare the whole [...]
It’s generally recognised that people working internationally need good language skills. But what does this mean? I think that we need quite a range of skills for international working and international communication and here are some of the areas where I think we need to develop ourselves and the people we train. 1 We need [...]
I was on a sales trip to Oslo last week, where many Norwegians now speak amazingly good English so selling specialist language and communication training can be quite a challenge. This is exemplified in one of my clients whose HR people I’ve been training for quite a while. He’s decided – probably rightly – that [...]
Last week I was in Paris helping to deliver the two-day module in International Human Resources to the cohort of mature students following the HR Master’s programme offered by the French grande école, Sciences Po (‘France’s leading university for social sciences’). I enjoy this event because I get to meet a range of HR practitioners [...]