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Case study in leadership development

The Situation

Our client runs a highly successful communications company of some 400 people.  They have achieved organic growth over the last 15 years, but more recently has taken a strategy to grow through mergers and acquisitions. 


The type of companies they acquire follows similar business principles to theirs so that merging processes and systems is not so much of an issue.  The people that come across to the client’s organisation also have like-minded values i.e. customer service orientated, quality and sales driven.


The client recently ran an employee engagement survey to find out how individuals were feeling about the state of the company, its policies, its environment, and to spot opportunities to change if required.  What came out of the feedback, indicated that the company was suffering with ‘growing pains’, as it moved from being a ‘family’ run business into a fully-fledged SME. 


The outputs included the challenge of senior leadership losing touch with the grassroots; the lack of formal leadership development; the desire for professional coaching to support career development, to name but a few.  It was at this point that the HR Director reached out to us to enquire as to what type of support we could offer to help take them to the next level in their journey.

The Opportunity

We held a series of meetings with the CEO, HRD and Directors from the Sales and Billings departments.  These took place both over the phone, and face to face.  During these meetings, we were able to ascertain their ‘pain’ points, and thus put forward a series of options that could support their objectives.

What was clear from these discussions, was that they wanted us to fully embrace their company, get below the surface, and deliver something ‘with’ them and not ‘to’ them.  We assured them that we were willing and able to go on the ‘change journey’ with them.  After all, we had achieved this over the last few years with other clients.


They were impressed by both our corporate experience in talent management, as well as our work as independent assessment and recruitment consultants.  We also had experience working for SMEs, as well as smaller departments in larger companies.  The breadth and depth of our experience has enabled us to be practitioners as well as consultants. 


Our knowledge and skills as line leaders, coaches, and HR professionals, convinced them that we would appreciate the challenges their business was facing, and understand the key role their leaders would play in their future.

The Solution

Our analysis indicated that the client required a blended approach of both leadership theory as well as interactive activities to ensure that the ideas stuck.  They recognised that, in order to grow, they had to change ‘positively’, and bring their people with them.  Our PEAK Performance & Potential programme ticked all of the boxes.  The plan was to make it the ‘DNA’ of the organisation.


We jointly came up with a programme that would bring together 40 of their leaders (from Directors to line managers to supervisors).  We segmented these into four groups of 10, agreeing that this is an optimum number to create a ‘self-supporting’ team.  Participants were drawn from across functions, which would (by design) lead to cross-departmental empathy, and the mutual recognition that ‘we are all in this together’.


Each group attended four one day workshops: 1) Habits of highly effective leaders, 2) Getting the best out of others, 3) Creating high performing teams and 4) Self-belief for PEAK performance


A month later, all participants attended a 121 with one of our coaches in a confidential session, to assess the extent to which they had grasped the concepts of the workshop.  In preparation for this meeting, participants were required to complete a series of reinforcement exercises.  This also became a key part of their personal development review.  


A further month on, we got the whole group back together to share the ‘aggregated’ learning, and check progress against the multitude of suggestions, thoughts and ideas that were generated during each programme.  It became infectious.

The Result

Nailing down the ROI is not easy when measuring the effectiveness of any learning offering.  We provided data and analysis to the senior management team so that we could track and monitor progress. 

One of our challenges was to deliver a programme that was sustainable and deliver real business results.  So, prior to each workshop, the participant’s line manager completed a simple and effective questionnaire to assess how their direct report was performing/behaving against the key learnings in the workshop.  


This was measured six months later to monitor change and to ensure that it was continuous.  In addition, each participant completed a survey to provide feedback on the workshop, its contents, and the effectiveness of our coach.  This feedback helped us to fine-tune the programme. 


As a leadership team, we assessed the impact of the behavioural shift to such things as retaining customers (more positive net promoter scores), becoming an employer of choice (through motivated employees, and investment in development), running another employee engagement survey six months later (overall engagement went up from 66% to 82%), and seeing attrition drop by 10% in some departments.  And one key output is that employees now speak a more ‘positive’, win-win language.


The client’s CFO originally argued about the ‘cost’ of running such a programme.  But the CEO argued about the ‘cost’ to the company (and its reputation) if we didn’t run it.  We are pleased to say that the CEO won.

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