I’m Steve Flinders. I’m a freelance trainer, writer, consultant 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. For the next twenty years, I designed and delivered various kinds of training to develop the professional language, communication, intercultural and leadership skills of our clients, as well as sharing in the ownership and the running of the company – doing sales and marketing for the company across Europe; giving talks at seminars and conferences; writing books and articles; and teaching the soft skills of communication and management. Because I’ve always been interested in politics, I particularly enjoyed 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 can deliver globally.
I’ve now left York Associates and live in Malta where I continue to train, write and coach on a part-time basis. When I’m not working, I enjoy practising yoga, swimming, reading, going to the theatre and opera, travelling, talking and – from time to time at least – having transforming conversations.
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