Creating a global leadership capability framework to drive future-focused behaviors


With a rich heritage dating back to the 1750s, Coats is the world’s leading industrial thread and textile crafts business. They operate in more than 70 countries and employ 20,000 people across six continents. YSC were brought in to support them with identifying, defining and rolling out a new leadership framework to maintain market leadership, build pride in the brand and drive future growth.

Coats recognized that despite its long-standing and global presence, complacency was not an option. Like other textile manufacturers, their business faces increasing market complexity and volatility due to a range of factors such as technological and regulatory changes, increasing customer expectations and competition and flux in talent demands across different pockets of the globe.

Consequently, Coats needed to adopt more flexible and bolder ways of operating in order to remain competitively agile. From a leadership perspective, this meant getting clear on the behaviors needed to take the organization forward and fulfil its vision, without losing the rich threads of Coats’ DNA that had underpinned its success to date.




To assist the business in achieving its vision across a dynamic global landscape, Coats enlisted YSC to create a profile of success from a behavioral perspective. This meant developing a custom leadership capability framework that could be applied across the business to underpin all HR and Organizational Development initiatives, including selection, talent and leadership development, succession planning and performance management.

The diagnostic phase engaged the senior leadership team to understand the contextual challenges inherent in the industry and the implications for Coats. We supplemented this with cross-industry research, our leadership capability benchmarking database and JDI Model of Potential.

To ensure that the framework was culturally resonant and applicable across the full spectrum of the global business, the draft profile was developed in broad consultation with 200+ members of the business spanning organizational levels, geographies and functions. We employed a multi-pronged and iterative approach involving stakeholder interviews, online surveys and focus groups. This enabled a holistic perspective on what success looked like anywhere from a Manufacturing Manager in India to a Finance Director in the USA.

Once a draft framework was developed, we partnered with the business in testing it by clarifying key leadership transitions and agreeing on capability language that was reflective of Coats’ spirit, values and brand.


  • The leadership capability framework was launched throughout the business and met with resoundingly positive feedback from the CEO and wider organization. The rigor,  transparency and organizational relevance behind it were particularly well-received.
  • Since its inception, Coats has integrated the framework into various Organizational Development & HR initiatives to drive capability and grow bench strength at a global level. It offers clear, measurable dimensions that underlie Coats’ principles, goals and vision for success.
  • We have continued our close relationship with the business and are working with Coats in a number of areas including selection and talent development.


“The key to delivering a successful talent and learning strategy for Coats is prioritization: knowing what will have the greatest impact on growth, productivity and teamwork and then delivering it successfully in a complex, global environment. None of this could have been achieved without first laying down an infrastructure that describes what excellent performance looks like in terms of skills and behaviors across all functions and levels in the organization. YSC’s pragmatic, yet future-focused, work on the LCF provided that infrastructure and, therefore, brought coherence which meant we could move on to delivery.”

Simon Youngs, Head of Talent & Learning, Coats