Case study

Creating A Leadership Capability Framework And Development Centers With A Specialist Insurer


Our client is a specialist insurer, underwriting personal and business risk. A FTSE 250 company with 31 offices across 14 countries, their understanding of their customers and complex risk makes them the market leaders in chosen areas.

They aim to protect and nurture their distinctive culture and ethos by recruiting the best people and focusing on organic growth.

YSC Consulting was selected to co-create and design a capability framework which blended aspects of leadership potential and leadership performance, taking into account the nature of their business, culture and operating environment. This framework would then form the basis upon which their high potential middle managers would be benchmarked and developed through a bespoke 360° feedback survey and an annual cycle of leadership development programs.

The client sought to establish a framework of what ‘great leadership’ looked like, using it as a basis for a bespoke development center for their middle managers. The design of the leadership program needed to strike a balance between assessment and development with the aim of:

  • Sharpening their insight into how their population individually and collectively ‘stacked-up’ against a bespoke framework.
  • Deepening individual’s understanding of their strengths and development needs from a management perspective.
  • Identifying who stands out from the crowd and is ready for promotion.
  • Tailoring specific interventions to support each person’s ongoing development.

The ‘style’ and content of both the framework and the development centers needed to be carefully designed to resonate with the business in order to ensure that it was perceived as credible and relevant.

We also wanted to enable the to manage the process independently in the long run.

Frame Work Design

We followed a number of key steps in co-creating the model which involved building up a clearer picture of the typical expectations and capabilities different levels within the business. We also needed to understand more about the organizational context, in particular:

  • Key challenges facing both the business and the organization.
  • The current business strategy.
  • Organizational DNA – what has driven success in the past, what to build on and what needs to change now and in the future.
  • What kinds of managers (and leaders) do well in the business (and which ones do not succeed).
  • What performance measures and methods for spotting potential they currently had in place.

The model was shaped iteratively in partnership with the business, ensuring much of the language remained true to organization’s culture and values.

Development Center Design And Delivery

The next phase of the work was to co-design and co-deliver the development programs. We trained internal resources to act as observer coaches and facilitators, enhancing their skills and increasing their knowledge of the talent pool within the business.

The two-day centers consisted of exercises around core elements such as Visioning & Shaping the Strategy as well as Peer Coaching, Development Planning and 360° feedback specific to the framework

On-going Development

Individuals had an individual feedback and development planning session with their internal observer and HR to provide:

  • A clear understanding of their strengths and opportunities for further development.
  • A development plan template to document their key goals and actions.
  • Specific suggestions for how they could further build on their spikes and address areas of development.

Our innovative, high tempo, yet pragmatic approach to design was positively received.

The framework, is thoroughly embedded and the development centers continue to run on an annual basis. In particular, our work helped the organization get much closer to its key talent, obtaining a nuanced read out on individuals in terms of their capabilities, strengths and development challenges – in relation to a consistent framework.

In a fast-paced and complex operating environment which relies heavily on strong technical expertise, our work also enabled individuals to carve out the time and space to reflect on their leadership journey, and to embed their learning.