In a rapidly changing business climate, the high-performing leaders of yesterday may not be equipped for tomorrow.

That’s the reality that banking and financial services firm Barclaycard faced head-on several years ago.

The organization identified the “head of level” leaders as a critical group to develop — about 125 leaders who “are in a position to interpret the organizational strategy and deliver the stretch targets set by the business,” according to James Prior, head of Executive Development at the time.

“We had been a very high-performing organization, and our managers had great experience and expertise,” Prior explained. “But new realities and our ambitious agenda require greater innovation in what we do and how we work. Our leadership development strategy had to acknowledge and address this so we would have the capacity we need in the future.”

In order to understand and manage critical business challenges including globalization and expansion, reengineering processes, changes in market dynamics and increased customer focus, senior leaders needed to improve their ability to:

  • Collaborate.
  • Influence without authority.
  • Drive innovation.
  • Coach others.
  • Build and maintain relationships.
  • Gain global awareness.
  • Translate strategy into action.
  • Enact principles of connected leadership.

Prior and his Barclaycard Academy colleagues, believed that a dual approach — combining big-picture organizational strategy with individual leader development — was needed to boost the leadership of Barclaycard managers. Working with both CCL and Ashridge Business School, they developed the Barclaycard Executing Strategy Program.

The program was structured as two, three-day sessions, held six weeks apart. The leadership components were informed by CCL’s expansive view of leadership development and tailored to Barclaycard’s needs. Individual coaching and action-learning projects further personalized the program and drove results. These elements helped participants integrate lessons learned into their personal development, create practical plans for converting strategy to operations, and build stronger relationships within their departments and across the company.

During a two-year period, 120 managers participated in the Executing Strategy Program. Evaluations showed the program and efforts of leaders to improve were leading to desired results, including:

  • Participants made significant improvement in leadership effectiveness, working together/collaboration and influence.
  • Participants showed measurable increases in their ability to take risks, set priorities, lead teams and coach/mentor others.
  • Direct reports are more engaged and empowered.
  • Participants are developing and leveraging networks and relationships to drive company strategies.

“In a short period of time, we have expanded our thinking about the business and our leadership culture,” said Prior. “Because of the Executing Strategy Program, key leaders are better equipped to face complex challenges and drive innovation. And that impact is cascading throughout the organization.”

Learn more about Barclaycard’s Executing Strategy Program and its impact: Delivering Results: Connecting Strategy & Leader Development

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