November 6, 2013 in Events (live blogging), CIPD Annual Conference 2013

#CIPD13 – Developing Leadership Behaviours

#CIPD13 – Developing Leadership behaviours aligned to vision, values, and culture – Nigel Jeremy (Marks and Spencer)


One-sentence summary: Your enduring values need to be lived out, encouraged, and embedded in your core people processes to make them a reality, recognising that change can take time.


Here goes with a session on values-based leadership, and it comes from an organisation that has very deep-rooted, long-standing values!


M&S vision is “To be the world’s most sustainable, international, multi-channel retailer” and it was clear from the backstory to the vision that this is regarded as a strategic imperative and that M&S certainly doesn’t believe that it can rest on its laurels. The Values are Trust, Value, Innovation, Quality, Service – they have lasted 127 years although the meaning has evolved over time.


How do we drive talent and performance by demonstrating values-based leadership qualities?


M&S felt that their approach to leadership varied, so they created ‘The M&S Leadership Brand (including Values)’, driven by head, heart, and guts and they called it a brand as they wanted to apply the thinking at the core of their business ¬†and apply it to leadership.


This translated into a set of capabilities around head, heart, guts, innovation, customers, and trust.


M&S launched a Leadership Development Programme (Lead to Succeed) to make the values a reality. The programme:

– Introduced the leadership brand

– Linked to leading self, team, and organisation

– Explored the challenges of leading in a global business (to focus on being an international retailer) and helped raise cultural awareness

– Opened leaders’ eyes about new ways of doing business and what it means to be a multi-channel retailer

– Focused on sustainability and responsibility


So, you’ve trained everybody and they understand it. How do you put some ‘skin in the game’? M&S systematised it so that it was built into performance management (and therefore reward) and living the M&S values plays a major part. They also built the values into talent rating and succession planning so that both your reward and your future potential depends on living out the values. High-potential leaders also get tailored support to help them develop in these areas and that can be experiential (such as a non-exec directorship at another organisation).


Nigel talked about different attitudes to development from leaders: from cynics to lifelong-learners with a huge amount of people who are undecided, where they really want to understand the value of all development (which is no bad thing). Nigel suggested that HR needs to avoid falling into the trap pf spending too much time on the cynics, but should focus efforts on the lifelong-learners and helping their enthusiasm be contagious.


Lessons learned:

– Make it simple and connect things

– Systematise the implementation of the values through core processes

– Make sure the senior leaders are totally on board and supportive

– Pilot the leadership development programmes with HR colleagues to learn lessons in a safe environment


There were some lessons learned about leadership development; recognising that you can’t please everybody, using lots of learning methods and approaches (including experiential) and keeping it simple, resisting the temptation to always pursue things that are shiny and new. And….. be patient!


A good session sharing real learning from a very engaging presenter.

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