Investment Banking - Intent-Based Leadership

This global, 3500 people, financial services organisation provides financing, risk management and trading solutions to their corporate and institutional customers.

Following a period of extraordinary turbulence followed by profound change the business needed to put into place the foundations to regrow and increase market share.

Organisational culture plays a pivotal role in determining whether organisations are able to achieve their goals and in 2017 the organisation had been described as “too cautious and reliant on processes and mechanisms” which was stifling both creativity and growth. 

Leadership development was identified as a risk-averse solution that could address the situation and the introduction of Intent-Based Leadership (IBL) was identified as an exciting and appropriate solution.

Key Notes, Round Tables and Champions

We implemented two keynotes were delivered by IBL pioneer, David Marquet, author of Turn The Ship Around! Interest was high with staff joining from all levels and from across the organisation. 

We also facilitated an intimate round-table with the organisation’s leadership team, the outcome of which was that several leaders were interested in participating in piloting IBL.

For those that weren’t participating in the pilot, notes of interest were collated for those curious to become internal IBL Champions.

Pilot programme

We implemented a pilot programme to teach and develop IBL capability, to prove IBL as a leadership practice and build momentum.

The pilot consisted of supporting teams to learn and practice IBL in a very hands-on behavioural-based way to create leaders at every level.

We did this in the following ways:

  1. IBL Sonar: online survey, interviews, and observations, this provided a robust assessment of how each group was currently operating: Where did control currently sit? How is competence developed?  How is clarity shared?  It also helped us created tailored next steps focusing on the specific elements of IBL that would make the most pronounced impact using in the organisation’s language and showing an enhanced understanding of their culture, the personalities involved, etc.
  1. Acting the IBL Way workshops: with pilot leaders. These interactive workshops, with practical work-related exercises explored the IBL principles and enabled reflection and the sharing of practice. The leadership team made an early commitment: whenever any member of their team approached asking for answers, they would hold off on giving answers and instead ask: What do you think we should do? This changed the direction of conversations. It shifted ownership of problems so that finding the best solution was a shared activity and it meant that front line staff could share what they were hearing from customers leading to better solutions that had the customer front of mind.
  1. 1:1 observation and feedback: this was given to those participating in the pilot over a period of two months. Shadowing a typical day, we attended their meetings, experienced their work life and their demands. We used these insights to help them focus on how to use those IBL mechanisms to support their specific goals; and we helped fine-tune their language to support a change in conversations
  1. Live video workshops: specifically for teams located across three global hubs whose work shifted from one team to the next as national stock markets close and open, allowing client work to progress 24 hours a day. Handovers were inconsistent and relationships across teams were often fractious so we focused on how the six principles of IBL could join them together seamlessly and as a cohesive team. team.

Within 6 months the organisation saw a 25% improvement in devolving control, a 6% improvement in people’s competence and a 10% increase in clarity across team projects, across the direction of travel and across up and coming initiatives; and on a macro level better clarity of how departments and teams fitted into the broader organisational structure and how they were each making a meaningful contribution.

Leaders witnessed increasing incidents of people approaching them to talk about solutions, not simply hand over problems; which in turn provided leaders with space to focus on strategic thinking.

And the people witnessed a real difference in how their leaders were operating, asking for their opinions more often and actively being encouraged to take a shared lead on work. 

Those involved in the live video workshops demonstrated an immediate and increased sense of trust and unity and we have continued to provided support to keep this momentum going to ensure ongoing impact and a living legacy.

Learn more about how Intent-Based Leadership can transform your organisation