Our client develops and manufactures rail signalling and locomotive control systems for mainline and metro-based railways across the world. A UK-based subsidiary company within a global group, it has a 140 year history and employs approximately 1,800 people worldwide.
The Project Context
Conscious of changing markets in terms of both exports and technology, our client realised that fundamental changes in approach and culture to a traditional business were required. The company’s MD also identified that the layer of management below the Board needed a greater voice in the strategic direction of the business.
A Leadership Challenge Event, held to engage senior staff in leading these cultural changes, led to the commissioning of the Fast Track Leadership Programme designed to develop the behaviours required of Organisational Leaders:
- creating momentum and mobilising people towards a vision for the future
- providing clear goals and direction for the organisation and supporting managers in aligning teams to strategy
- championing change and creating enthusiasm, feelings of ownership and a desire to excel in others.
ASK was retained to design and deliver a bespoke leadership programme, using a strong behavioural focus to embed the key characteristics leadership teams. Programme content needed to be clearly aligned to context, culture and processes, and to include a strong experiential element to allow for practice of new leadership skills.
ASK produced a 10-month, three phase, highly practical development programme that supported participants through behaviour change.
The programme Launch Event workshop demonstrated senior management support. The MD set out the imperative for change and aligned the programme objectives with the business strategy. Board Members acted as Mentors to participants throughout the programme.
Drawing on reflective exercises, diagnostic questionnaires and discussion of learning goals with their mentors, the Me and My Team workshop explored participants’ key leadership challenges and helped them plan their development actions. Each participant, supported by facilitated Action Learning Sets, subsequently delivered a personally stretching project, linked to business objectives, that addressed our client’s strategic challenges.
The Organisational Leadership workshop helped participants translate the company’s Vision and Strategy into a personal Leadership Vision. FIRO-B® was used to explore improving personal relationships, and strategic awareness and influencing skills were developed using Group Projects that provided team responses to medium/long term strategic issues. Action Learning Sets supported project delivery, enabling participants to experience different functions and build effective cross-company networks, before reporting back to Board members on individual progress and to recommend actions from the Group Projects.
Evaluation and Results
ASK tracked participants’ progress against development goals and assessed the impact of the programmes on the business. At the end of the programme, 100% rated themselves as either ‘more’ or ‘much more effective’, and 76% felt there had been significant or very significant business impact. The growth of cross functional networks and a ‘One Company’ mindset have been commonly remarked benefits of the programme.
“Action learning sets – opportunity to interact with Senior Managers from around the business in a semi-formal forum. I found this very useful for a number of reasons not least because it gave me better view of the pressures others were under, i.e. I was not on my own.”
“The programme has helped me to take a much more objective and considered view of priorities (both personal and business wide). The level of ‘firefighting’ that I have been involved in over the course of the last 12 months has tended to distort my perception of the most important aspects of my role, leading to a focus on short term problems and a propensity to get involved in low level activities. I have now raised my sights, re-assessed the way that I operate and feel that I have a better opportunity to influence events rather than being driven by them.”