Growing Talented Leaders

Having a group of talented and skilful leaders is critical to delivering priorities and successful transformation initiatives. We work with you to be clear about the kind of leadership needed to deliver your strategy, and then create our innovative development programmes for your strategic and high potential leaders. These include:

  • Knowing and showing your leadership self well
  • Adjusting and adapting your leadership to help others thrive
  • Leading when the way forward isn’t clear
  • Being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Being confident and equipped to have a wide range of conversations

Here’s some of our recent work

Growing Talented Leaders:
Leading Across Organisational Boundaries

Client Situation:

Leaders In GM is part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, a unique and ground-breaking approach to providing high quality public services by combining public budgets across the seven boroughs of the Greater Manchester area. Working across a system rather than exclusively within an organisation presents a different set of leadership challenges. Leaders in GM increasingly have to work collaboratively and through participative and co-creation approaches. This new way of working draws on a range of influencing and partnering skills rather than directive leadership. The Leading GM group (a collaborative arrangement across all member organisations) were seeking to find innovative and experiential ways of building skills and confidence in leaders needing to work in this way. They also wanted to build internal facilitation capability to run events like this themselves in the future. These events needed to be delivered at scale to 95 leaders at a time.

The Solution:

We were excited and honoured to be invited to work on this unique devolution initiative. We developed The Leading With Impact + Presence Workshops, three highly experiential and innovative workshops working at different levels of the system, and designed to be delivered to c90 leaders at a time. The workshops worked on both a rational level by introducing frameworks and models to the whole group, and ‘below the neck’ to build self awareness, interpersonal skills, and application of these to real life situations in small teams of six. The final element of our solution was to build internal skills and capability in a group of 10 facilitators from within member organisations.

  1. Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First – taking a deep dive under the surface of how leaders show up and the impact they have on others. This workshop recognised that leaders need to do their own work first when working collaboratively.
  2. Disappearing Elephants – recognised that traditional ways of team and group working in organisations comes with a whole set of patterns, habits, and narratives that don’t always translate when working across a system. These habits are often hidden from view when system leaders come together and can become ‘elephants in the room’ causing things to get stuck. This workshop built skills and confidence in spotting, naming, and making interventions so the elephants disappeared.
  3. So What? Now What? – shifted the focus to taking action and looked at continuing the personal transformation that had been started, creating small peer groups to support each other through a provoking personal planning session
  4. Building Internal Capability – A skills and confidence building workshop was run for internal facilitators to come together and share their expertise and learn about hosting and facilitating groups. Depending on their confidence levels they were paired with more experienced facilitators during the workshops, or allocated groups to facilitate individually.


In total over 200 leaders attended the workshops, and 10 internal facilitators worked alongside their colleagues and our team of facilitators. The series of workshops were reported to have:

  • Raised self awareness of how leaders are experienced by each other
  • Been a great way to build relationships across the City and provide a space to learn together
  • Created a more collaborative and partnering approach
  • Identified new local projects and initiatives to move forward together at a local level
  • Stimulated wider conversations within the Leaders In GM community about future development approaches and the need for more localised initiatives.
  • Developed internal facilitation capability with new skills and confidence applied to other projects

Feedback from the client:

Gwen has worked with us collaboratively to design a series of highly engaging and impactful workshops. I value Gwen’s creativity and willingness to introduce and experiment with new approaches. She has also supported us to build our internal OD capability and is always happy to offer professional support to me and others. I value the insight and difference which Gwen has bought to the Leading GM Programme. Gwen is a delight to work with and a trusted partner.

Feedback from the internal OD Facilitation Team

Gwen brings a wealth of experience with her and strikes a nice balance of theory and practical application. Gwen fine tuned the content through piloting the workshops with the facilitation team and was happy to explore impact and feedback in the moment. I found the experience to be a great way of orienteering the facilitation team to the models and tools used in the workshops, it was particularly useful as some of the team had never worked at this level before. A warm, generous and professional woman Gwen role models her workshop content.

Growing Talented Leaders:
European Leadership Programme (ELP)

Client Situation:

There are over 100 Hitachi Group companies that operate across EMEA, many operate independently within the Japanese conglomerate and contribute to Hitachi’s core mission, vision, and values. More recently there has been a strategic move to maximise the potential of Hitachi through closer collaboration between group companies. The European Leadership Programme is the flagship development programme for high potential leaders from within these Hitachi companies. One of the key goals for Hitachi is that the programme builds the kind of leadership behaviours needed for true collaboration and the challenges of working within a Japanese global organization. Gwen Stirling-Wilkie has been the Client Director for the ELP for six years, working through one of our partnering organisations Berkshire Consultancy Limited.

The Solution:

A seven-month modular programme that uses a number of innovative approaches in the design. There are three core modules, interspersed by small team action learning groups. Each participant works on an individual change project and brings the challenges they are facing to their action learning team. Innovative use of actors encourages participants to be more skilful in holding difficult conversations. Key elements of the programme are:

  • Module 1 – My Self As a Leader
  • Module 2 – Leading Others
  • Module 3 – Leading The Organisation
  • Action Learning Groups – bringing learning to life
  • Final Presentation Day – sharing learning with senior leaders and managers


  • Participants frequently say that the ELP is the best training they have ever undertaken and that it has made a real difference to them in their self-awareness, approach to work and relationships, how they make decisions, influence others, delegate and implement change.
  • The action learning groups accelerate the impact and application of new knowledge and skills
  • Relationships and networks built across Group organisations have led to new business opportunities and innovative client solutions
  • Visibility of high potential talent is showcased at the final presentation day
  • Many ELP participants are promoted shortly after attending the programme

Feedback from the client:

Gwen has a very business-focused approach and always positions our development programmes in a broader strategic context. This, along with her skilful facilitation, makes ELP one of the most valued programmes in Hitachi’s development calendar.

Collective Brilliance

Organisation + System Transformation