The client is an immensely successful international business which has held a significant presence in the financial services industry since its establishment in the 19th century. Recent reviews of strategy have focused on leveraging international capabilities, especially from the strong base in South Africa. To support this focus, the company has an intensive focus on talent development, with particular attention to building leaders with a global mindset who are capable of driving the company’s expansion plans.
To invigorate these plans, the Company seeks to develop leaders capable of impacting both established markets and emerging economies. The organisation delivers a range of programmes and accesses various business school courses as part of their development strategy. However, in 2010 they posed the challenge; “How can we create a completely tailored experience for high potential leaders which would underpin the aim to “build a culture of excellence?”” The focus is on the practise of leadership and the behavioural shifts often required of an impactful leader dealing with complex change.
The need was to develop leaders who can flourish in an environment which is complex, ambiguous and emergent. HR leaders were attracted by the framework defined in the UN study of leadership in the 21st century which identified the need for leaders of the future to be contextually aware and responsive, have the ability to engage and manage complexity and have the capability to form meaningful relationships and connections.
A highly iterative process of collaboration resulted in a modular programme designed to build capabilities for the challenges of context, connectedness and complexity. The methodology provides a leading edge conceptual background for an entirely practice focused experience. Facilitators blend their diverse experience to challenge, inform and feedback to delegates in a highly engaged learning environment. As the programme evolves, delegates draw on their own inner resources, those of the talented learning community of which they are an integral part and specialist contributors. The design deliberately blends the complementary skills and experience of the lead facilitators, Liz de Wet and Rosemary Grant, offering delegates a unique opportunity to access cutting edge learning practices with corporate leadership and coaching expertise.
Each of the 12 days is crafted to embrace the needs of the delegates and the leadership impact required by the organisational strategy. Detailed delegate feedback ensures complete alignment to their context and the challenges they face. Customisation sits at the level of the organisation’s business, then is crafted further as the delegate group works together to form a powerful community. Tailoring is then supported at the level of the individual by a coaching programme which underpins the core curriculum over the three modules. The coaching team comprises highly respected and diverse individuals who are regularly briefed by facilitators on the aspirations of the Company and the key elements of the core curriculum. Their role is to support and challenge each delegate to the highest levels of performance back into their day-to-day work between modules and feedback any significant themes arising from delegates into the design.
The first cohort of delegates completed Leading Business Excellence in October 2011. The evaluation was excellent from both delegates and company executives who described significant behavioural shifts and increased impact of the group. As a result, the Company has formally included Leading Business Excellence as a key part of their senior leader development strategy. For the 2012 cohort of senior leaders the process started with stakeholder discussions to help us understand developments in the Company over the previous 12 months which were crafted into the design.