An organisation at a turning point
The leadership team at the Rugby Football Union knows a thing or two about pressure. With a new CEO at the helm, a new business strategy underway and the 2015 World Cup approaching fast, the RFU needed leaders that would be able to engage their people in the new organisational vision and help the business swiftly deliver on the global stage. That’s where we stepped in to support Blue Sky Performance Improvement in the delivery of this programme.

Building a team of conscious leaders
Our aim was to create leaders who are consciously engaged in mastering the craft of leadership – to set the vision, strategy and create the climate for success – and our first step was to listen to the business. Following a comprehensive diagnostic, we highlighted specific areas for focus, such as the need for the RFU leaders to develop a much greater understanding of what effective leadership looks like, and the need to build skills that would translate that into everyday action. We also identified that the leaders would have to become excellent coaches themselves, in order to help different individuals and functions pull together to deliver the organisational vision.

The programme for the RFU was designed to close the gap between knowing and doing, underpinned by Blue Sky’s Embedded Learning Methodology™ which encompasses all we know to be true about what makes learning stick and what creates lasting change. A blended learning approach gave leaders accountability for their actions at every stage; there was high challenge, but also high support, as the leaders stopped focusing solely on tasks and started thinking about their people, building a common language through which they could learn and grow.

Workshops included topics such as:
• Leadership Mindset (1 day): Self-awareness, values, beliefs, brand, business context, the leadership role, conscious choice
• Dialogue (1 day): Effectiveness, decision making, accountability, speed, transparency
• Coaching and Performance Leadership (2 days): Creating a high performance environment, performance conversations, target setting, feedback, human motivations and needs

Each workshop used lots of real-world scenarios and practice and was followed by 1:1 coaching and Action Learning Sets to consolidate the learning and sustain momentum throughout the process. We also provided 360 Feedback with follow-up coaching, teaching assignments and E-Learning opportunities.

Learning Partners were used to embed the learning and help participants remain focused, and additional support was provided to the Executive Team so that they could develop their mindset and skills to become true leadership role models.

Our results so far
There are clear indications of a strong shift in leadership behaviours throughout the RFU. Far greater focus is being placed on supporting individuals’ and teams’ performance and potential. Cross-functional collaboration has improved and many leaders have expressed greater confidence in their overall effectiveness as well as in the supervisory aspects of their role. Clearly, this is just the start of a very exciting journey for the RFU.