Marks & Spencer

Developing diverse leadership teams for the future

M&S is a leading British retailer bringing quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers around the world.

Challenges

M&S prides itself on being an inclusive employer. In support of this they had historically provided an ‘Inspiring Women’ programme to accelerate careers and increase the representation of women leaders within the organisation. In 2019 they built on the success of this programme to design a programme that increased the representation of both women and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) colleagues in senior management positions. The Breakthrough Leaders programme was put in place to accelerate potential, improve the pipeline of women and BAME future leaders and provide inclusive leadership training for delegates and their line managers as change agents across the organisation.

The coaching sessions and EI was the most helpful for me. It allowed me to be more reflective as a leader and self aware.

Programme Participant

Solution

The Breakthrough Leaders programme consisted of 3 topics: Leader with Emotional Intelligence, Leader of Self, and Inclusive Leader, with each element provided by different suppliers. PSI worked with the programme owner to design and deliver the Leader with Emotional Intelligence component, a 1.5 day interactive workshop preceded by our diagnostics; Emotional Intelligence Profile 3 and Leadership Climate Indicator 360. This workshop built on content already being delivered in other talent programmes across the organisation and so helped create a common language and understanding of the importance and impact of emotionally intelligent leadership. We also provided four one hour sessions of one to one coaching for each delegate over the life of the programme to enable them to explore their learning and integrate it into their leadership. The workshop and subsequent coaching centred on:

  • the importance of self-regard for understanding limiting personal beliefs and working with feedback, projection and bias of others
  • regard for others as basis for inclusive leadership

At the end of the programme, the Emotional Intelligence diagnostic was retaken to identify “distance travelled” and support final coaching sessions and action planning to continue to embed learning.

I think these 121 sessions really helped in driving action and understanding some of the course material better.

Programme Participant

Outcomes

  • Over half of the cohort have changed jobs within the organisation since the programme began, with around 50% of those moves into larger roles with greater responsibility.
  • Retake on the Emotional Intelligence Profile at the end of the programme shows an average increase of 16% across all measured scales in the whole population. This is demonstrated by a noticeable increase in participants’ self awareness, confidence and belief in themselves.
  • In a survey conducted at the end of the programme, participants: a) describe themselves as more aware of how to get more out of their teams and themselves; b) understand how they are now enabled to use their new skills and knowledge productively day to day; c) are taking more time to be more strategic in their leadership, stepping out of the detail to empower their teams and sharing learning from the programme with their teams.

Sophie Seex and Sally Tanski from PSI have been excellent to work with on this programme. They are quick to respond to queries, sharing suggestions for best practice for the pilot programme and overall very easy to work with. All of the programme delegates mention their coaching experience as a highlight of the programme and found the Emotional Intelligence workshop stretching and insightful. PSI are a very valuable element of the overall programme.

Claire Maydew, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Marks & Spencer

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