Global professional services firm EY’s mission is to build a better working world, with a commitment towards developing talent one of its core values. In consultation with Leadership Skills Training, the business identified a gap in its training offering for employees recently promoted to director level and enlisted our help to develop and deliver a programme of leadership coaching specifically for this audience.
Having previously worked with EY to prepare directors seeking promotion to partner to go before its internal interview panel, it became apparent to those involved that these individuals would benefit from coaching earlier in their careers to help them rise to the leadership challenges of a professional services firm. Despite being technically accomplished in their area of expertise, many struggled to make the step change required in order to become an inspiring, persuasive and motivating leader and visionary ambassador for the firm. Having spent many years building a career where they were required to follow the rules, they were now expected to be able to set the agenda, demanding a shift in both mind set and self-belief.
We developed a bespoke two-day pilot course to be delivered to directors within nine months of promotion. The course consists of two modules – performance and presence. Working with delegates in a group setting, the performance module concentrates on developing presentations which move away from low energy, technical jargon, instead encouraging delegates to crystallise their message in order to demonstrate clarity, knowledge and credibility. A video playback session ensures that they receive personal feedback to perfect their style so that they can then deliver the presentation in an exciting and engaged way that resonates with their audience. The presence module, also tailored to each individual, focuses on boosting gravitas and preparing for any given professional situation, from informal telephone conversations to hostile meetings, covering areas such as body language, eye contact and gestures; expressing opinions succinctly; and adapting to audience idiosyncrasies.
The course has proved a major success for EY and, as a cost effective group training approach, has now been rolled out quarterly across service lines. Feedback from participants is that they have learned techniques that they continue to use in their day to day professional lives. Ultimately, delegates have shown their ability to express their ‘best self’, inspiring belief among staff, internal stakeholders and clients that they are the person for the job.