Leadership development keeps North on course for global success
Navigating growth and diversification in an increasingly competitive and changing market required enhanced leadership behaviours and organisational development.
North P&I Club (“North”) is a leading global marine insurer. From capsizing vessels and cyber-terrorism to stowaways and kidnapping, North provides insurance cover and loss prevention services to around 5,000 ships worldwide. Founded in 1860 and still headquartered in Newcastle, North employs almost 400 people and has international offices in Greece, China (Shanghai and Hong Kong), Japan, Singapore, Ireland and the USA.
With unrivalled global experience and one of the largest teams of in-house lawyers, master mariners and engineers in the industry, North’s purpose is to enable its members to trade with confidence. North also plays a leading role in the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG), an association of 13 principal underwriting clubs insuring around 90 percent of the world’s ocean-going tonnage.
Dawn Robinson, Global People Director at North P&I Club, explains, “North had been enjoying market and financial success, yet we had become a little complacent. We needed to remain competitive, continue to grow and differentiate ourselves from other clubs. We had diversified with the acquisition of Sunderland Marine and there had also been changes within the leadership team. We needed to refresh the business strategy, build a shared sense of purpose and collaboration, increase global engagement and deliver business change. With no obvious triggers for change, we needed to somehow convince North’s people that, despite business success, they needed to take responsibility for change and stay ahead of the competition.”
“Development was key,” says Dawn. “Our employee engagement survey identified a need for people development and, at the same time, we needed a more consistent approach to leadership to achieve our ambitions for growth. North employs a large number of technical experts including underwriters, lawyers and mariners, some of whom are regarded as the best minds in the industry. Consistent leadership skills and behaviours would help to unlock North’s true potential and further steady our ship through ongoing turbulence in the industry. We also wanted to ensure retention and succession for key roles across the organisation.”
To support the achievement of strategic objectives, North required leadership development for the top tier of 75 directors and deputy directors. North needed a credible, expert provider to assist in enhancing leadership, development and succession and provide a framework of skills and behaviours to meet future business needs
“Our decision to partner with Roffey Park was down to their credibility, credentials and ability to deliver a bespoke leadership development programme to 75 leaders across 7 cohorts within one year,” explains Dawn. “We aimed to build consistency of leadership skills and behaviours across a global audience of technical experts. Roffey Park offered a more holistic, Organisational Development solution tailored to our specific needs.”
“Roffey Park also demonstrated the right values, personality and cultural fit,” Dawn continues. “In particular, Roffey Park consultants demonstrate high professional integrity, intellectual challenge and were respected by the senior leaders who met them as part of the tender process.”
North aimed to create a commercially agile organisation, able to anticipate, respond and adapt to a changing world and to develop leaders and managers who are strategic, commercially aware and resilient. North also aimed to develop an organisational culture with a strong learning mindset and embed a coaching style of management to equip people with the skills to progress.
Due to the scale, complexity and pace of solutions required by North, Roffey Park worked with North to design a range of Organisational Development (OD) programmes and interventions. This would provide North with a robust approach to talent identification, development and succession planning and ensure that the right people, with the right leadership skills and behaviours, are in place to deliver North’s strategic objectives.
Roffey Park conducted an initial diagnostic phase to gather insight and develop a deeper sense of North’s organisational culture, involving over 30 interviews with people at all levels of the business, focus groups and a leadership event for directors and deputy directors. Insights were used by Roffey Park to develop True North, a bespoke behavioural framework that would provide the backbone for leadership development, talent and succession strategies. True North captures the essence of what it means to work at North, aligning behaviours with North’s three core values of Teamwork, Integrity and Commitment and ensuring consistency of leadership across North’s global business.
Desired behaviours include:
- Responsiveness and care
- Influence and collaboration
- Drive and decisiveness
- Responsibility and empowerment
- Flexibility and change
- Motivation and vision
North continues to recruit, develop and reward people against this behavioural framework.
360 Degrees North
Roffey Park designed a bespoke 360 degree feedback tool designed around the True North behavioural framework. 360 feedback was collected before and following the main Navigating North leadership programme. Each participant was then offered an individual coaching session to explore the main themes and areas for focus.
Roffey Park designed a bespoke leadership development programme for 75 directors and deputy directors, delivered to 7 cohorts within 12 months.
“Objectives for the Navigating North programme were clear,” explains Dawn. “Programme content focused on leadership from a personal, people and business context and aimed to equip leaders with the tools, skills and experiences they need to lead and motivate their people. We also required the programme to be delivered at pace. From the diagnostic phase in April, the behavioural framework was developed in May and the first cohort was delivered in June, followed by six more cohorts; an intense and valuable twelve months.”
Features of the Navigating North programme:
- Pre programme briefings by senior HR advisers.
- Pre and post programme feedback using the True North 360 feedback tool to identify areas of strength and for development.
- Three two-day modules, delivered over three months:
- Module 1: Authentic & Relational Leadership (2 days)
- Module 2: Leading a high-performance culture (2 days)
- Module 3: Leading strategy and change with agility (2 days)
- A mix of participants from all business functions and global locations.
- The first cohort comprised executive team members, to model to others that time and investment spent on targeted development is important.
- One to one meetings with line managers before attending each module and on completion of the programme, to agree areas of strength and for development.
- A blended learning approach balancing theory with real-life application, pragmatic tools and 360 degree feedback.
- Programme delivery included tutor input, individual reflection and self-assessment exercises, pairs coaching, small group and whole group exercises, sharing and discussion, e-learning and webinars.
- Individual coaching sessions following the programme, to build on personal strengths and leadership effectiveness.
“The structure and delivery of the programme was as powerful as the content,” says Dawn. “By mixing focus groups with local and global leaders from different operational areas of the business, the programme enhanced informal networking and cultural diversity, while reinforcing a “One North” mentality.”
Programme content evolved to focus on strategic objectives and enable senior leaders to let go, involve others and communicate strategic priorities across
the organisation. A succession planning and selection process ran in parallel with leadership development to transition the senior team from an operational to strategic leadership team.
“We continue to focus on the global leadership group of 72 leaders,” says Dawn. “Roffey Park consultants continue to coach new and existing senior team members and we hold global leadership meetings to revisit learning and strategic priorities. Whenever delegates meet up with their original cohort groups, the atmosphere is electric and there is a real buzz about our achievements; we have created something very special.”
The next phase of leadership development for senior leaders has been extended to future leaders and a wider drive for ‘Development for All’ North employees globally, to cascade leadership behaviours and enhance retention and succession.
The Magnetic North programme features four pillars of personal development:
- Personal leadership – to enhance leadership skills across the organisation.
- Pragmatic people skills – for new and existing people managers.
- Enhanced people skills – including coaching, mentoring, giving feedback, managing difficult conversations and career conversations.
- Understanding our business – presentations by technical experts from key business functions, to transfer knowledge and reduce silos.
The programme features personalised and localised meetings, coaching sessions delivered by Roffey Park, LinkedIn online learning, external speakers, bitesize sessions on practical leadership skills and North Talks sessions – similar to TED Talks – on subjects such as health and wellbeing.
A series of strategic workshops facilitated by Roffey Park, bringing together 50 global leaders and using the fast-moving, dynamic space approach to redefine North’s purpose, vision and key strategic goals to be achieved by 2023. Ten top priority initiatives were identified and explored by individual cohort groups, culminating in presentations and recommendations to the senior leadership team.
Following this, Roffey Park facilitated a three-day global leadership conference for the leadership team to review learning objectives, outcomes and the impact that the Navigating North programme has made on individual leaders and their teams. The executive and leadership teams together identified three key strategic goals to deliver across the business. Strategic away days continue to be held periodically to review progress and business KPIs, to ensure North stays on course.
Results and outcomes
The impact made by the Navigating North programme and other leadership interventions delivered by Roffey Park is clear. Participant and manager feedback using the 360 Degrees North tool identifies improvements in leadership performance and behavioural change. Changes in employee surveys and NPS scores are also an indicator of longer term cultural and behavioural change; individuals at North are more engaged, constructive and effective as leaders and North’s NPS score of employees who would recommend North as an employer is + 51, well above the standard benchmark score of +30 for ‘excellence’.
“The organisation just feels different,” explains Dawn. “As a result of the Navigating North programme and other leadership development activities, the senior leadership team has been transformed to become a collective group of individual leaders with a shared purpose, complementary skillset and a widened talent pool. Our leaders display the positive attributes outlined within our behaviour framework and we have a strategic focus for the leadership team and business. In addition, participants have a valuable network of contacts here and overseas, helping collaboration across the global business.”
“Another measure of success is that our CEO, Paul Jennings, has an effective leadership team around him that he can empower and delegate to,” Dawn adds. “Enabling our CEO to focus on his role and lead the organisation with strong support from the leadership team is critical to North’s ongoing success.”
Key to success is North’s partnership with Roffey Park. “Roffey Park has the credibility of leadership expertise, proven track record, size of organisation and consultants who are experts in their field,” says Dawn. “The Roffey Park consultants fully immersed themselves in our business and developed a deep understanding of the leadership team and individual leaders, alongside sound knowledge of our business strategy, priorities and challenges. It was also reassuring that each of the Roffey Park consultants we worked with were equally outstanding and had extensive knowledge of OD, other organisations and industry sectors.”
Roffey Park consultants continue to work individually with each leader to enhance skills, effectiveness, strategic knowledge and to further embed the True North leadership behaviours.
“Navigating North and True North have had a huge impact on the way our leaders work together,” Dawn concludes. “Leadership effectiveness and engagement have increased across the business and we have aligned True North behaviours to all people processes; shaping recruitment, management and performance reviews and organisational culture. We now have a clear vision and shared purpose across our global organisation. There is also a strong ethos for caring and doing the right thing; an upbeat personality seems to be the ‘North way’.”
“We want North to be the club that everyone wants to join and to empower our people to deliver our strategic objectives,” says Dawn. “Strong leadership across the company creates the right environment to realise our business vision to 2023 and beyond.”
Roffey Park worked closely with North to professionalise the leadership and management skills of the executive and leadership teams and help raise the importance of leadership development. As a result, North is seeing a shift in culture across the organisation and managers are now equipped to lead, listen and actively develop their people; they are stepping up as leaders. Roffey Park has helped North to drive and enhance the quality of leadership and continue to build on its business success.