In 2014 one well-known F1 team re-formed under a new leader, an F1 enthusiast and entrepreneur who saw in The Art of Action a way to create a more creative and resilient high-performance culture.
Work began with a series of workshops for the top management team, and reinforced in annual offsites in which a core agenda item was crafting the intent for the year ahead. The intent changed every year. Discussions were detailed and intense, with the result that a common shared understanding was built among the top 20-30 people, with a profound effect on operations and resource allocation decisions throughout the year.
Each department head worked with the next level down to unpack the implications of the high-level intent until it had penetrated every level of management. Leaders soon reported that decision-making was faster and more consistent and that innovation was beginning to be bottom-up as well as top-down. However, the team noticed that many of the more junior people were not willing to accept the autonomy available to them and in extreme cases still expected to be told exactly what to do. They decided to address this with a programme designed to:
Develop and implement a programme to equip managers at all levels with the core knowledge, skills and behaviours required to perform effectively as leaders
Embed intent-based leadership principles at project and working team level
Establish greater consistency in leader behaviours to reinforce a common leadership culture
Find a way to ensure alignment to the Team’s overall intent was maintained throughout the organisation
Empower functional and cross-functional teams to make appropriate decisions without deference to senior managers
A first-class ILM accredited management development programme was already underway, so the practices of leading through intent needed to be integrated into it.
In the next phase of work, we designed and delivered an ILM accredited management development programme based on Leading Through Intent, piloted the workshop with a group of managers, then incorporated their feedback to ensure it resonated strongly with the target group and was closely integrated it with the team’s behavioural framework.
We delivered the workshop module to 100+ managers at focused workshop sessions using experiential content to bring the techniques and behaviours to life and integrated Leading Through Intent into two strategic business-critical digital transformation programs.
We designed a reliable way to validate and measure the impact of Leading Through Intent using the company’s existing engagement survey.
Team intent was discussed and translated and developed at every level of leadership. As a consequence, senior leaders reported greater confidence in strategic alignment throughout the Team.
For consecutive years, Team engagement scores increased over the previous year baseline (twice) to an overall average of 80% against the KPIs we had agreed in advance for Leading Through Intent. In addition, 14 out of 19 important engagement survey scores also exceeded global benchmarks, and the remainder all showed improvement on previous years.
Leading through Intent made a positive impact on team productivity and performance as evidenced by overall 2019 season performance.
The Leading through Intent programme will be implemented again in 2020 for a new cohort of functional team leaders.
“I’m very interested in all kind of theories and developments around management culture. The Art of Action teaches lessons from 19th-century military strategy for business today. Each member of the team got that book.” Team CEO
“We validated the impact of Leading Through Intent by looking at individual leader performance reviews including peer leadership ratings. They correlated closely, so we knew immediately ‘this stuff works’ Senior L&D Manager
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