They called them the Magnificent Seven; seven carefully chosen managers from the Group Property Management division of Lloyds TSB, responsible for their properties throughout the UK. They took a close look at their own leadership, using the Seven Is capabilities outlined in the book Perfect Leader by Andrew Leigh and Michael Maynard. They then attended a development event about these seven capabilities and faced up to some highly personal challenges.
Each of the magnificent seven tackled one of the burning issues confronting the business, agreeing to lead project teams to produce solutions and results. Senior executives from the division sponsored each leader and participated in a two-day coaching workshop to fully support their people in their endeavours.
Behind these challenges lay senior manager Mark Coupe’s belief in the critical importance of developing leadership capability within this part of the Lloyds business. Previously he had driven the process that gained the division its IIP (Investors in People) recognition, and this had highlighted such a need.
For three years running he had enlisted the support of Maynard Leigh Associates at annual development events where managers explored the capabilities needed to produce high performance. The focus was on people management skills and it produced important results. When undergoing their reassessment, their IIP assessor commented on the work that the division had done to ensure that all its line managers have the necessary skills to manage people as well as tasks.
In 2005 Coupe wanted to up the stakes and, with the backing of the Director of Group Property Management Alistair Strang, he and his HR team worked with Maynard Leigh to devise the Magnificent Seven Challenge - a creative solution to enhance managers’ skills. Amongst the major challenges facing the division were making it a great place to work and improving the way they managed virtual teams.
The project culminated in an inspirational event for all seven teams – over fifty people planned solutions to the challenges and practised their leadership capabilities at the same time.
The Maynard Leigh associates put special emphasis on the importance of integrating the development projects with the business needs, as well as the importance of involving senior managers in the project as a whole. There were many benefits from this integrated approach: the leaders running the task forces developed their own people-management skills, and the senior executives mentoring them used their coaching skills and became more closely involved in areas of the business normally outside their focus.
The magnificent seven bonded as a team, developing relationships that will continue to add value to the business. The organisation began tackling some vital challenges facing it, with two distinct aims: to develop leadership and management skills, and to resolve some real issues affecting divisional performance.
"I’ve worked with Michael and the Maynard Leigh team for three years now. I chose them as a partner following some excellent feedback from other areas of Lloyds TSB with regard to their work," Mark told us. "I know that I can rely on their enthusiasm and expertise to help me to develop the programme. They have great team members with a fantastic range of well developed skills. On the day, I know that Maynard Leigh will always control the activities, maximise the output and get us finished on time. I won’t say I’m relaxed, but I’m a good deal less anxious than I normally am when fronting a high profile event!"