Making Big Change Happen • Case Studies
The One Leadership Project’s sole focus is on enabling big change, so you would expect the impacts of our support to be transformational – and our clients consistently tell us that it is.
Our support is systemic, so its impacts are likewise wide-ranging, transforming the effectiveness, courage and resilience of individuals, teams and whole organisations alike.
This work is challenging, inspiring and at times a complete joy, the culmination of our lifelong commitment to deep learning and reflection on the nature of big change.
“Helps us steer our way through complex challenges and difficult conversations.”
Geoff Fallon – Vail Williams LLP
Do you want to release the potential of your people? Would you like to be a fast growing, award winning employer of choice?
We help organisations enable big, positive change within their business. For Vail Williams LLP this means engaging everyone to think about how they want to be remembered, and so get clear about what they collectively care about, and then bring that to life so that they can work brilliantly together, be a great place to work, and attract and retain great clients and talent.
Adding to their growing list of awards and recognition, they’ve just been shortlisted as one of the 7 ‘Best Employers’ in the UK by the British Chamber of Commerce.
Geoff Fallon of Vail Williams has played his part leading the project within the business. Here’s his story in his words.
How would you describe the journey we’ve been on?
As a business, it’s kind of life-changing. It’s a huge shift in everything – in our mentality, in how we operate as a business, how we operate with each other. It is entirely different today compared to three, four years ago.
What is the difference you are seeing?
People working together, thinking together, thinking about each other and other people and how things affect other people. It’s gone from silos, whether it be a discipline silo, an office silo, a person silo. Now we’re looking at it as we’re all together. And that is huge. People say “I’ve got an issue. We’ve got a client. How can you help me? I’ve got an opportunity with… Does anybody know? Can anybody help me?” Huge difference.
Read the rest of the interview here...
It’s sounding really collaborative
Very, very collaborative. Collaboration is cropping up informally amidst formal projects. The way we now work – we don’t sit in our discipline. Everybody wants to contribute. Your view is as valuable as anybody else’s view. That is a big change. People are beginning to feel ‘My voice will be heard and I’m not going to be left out and I’m not going to be scolded for my mad idea’. It’s never a mad idea. It can swing another spot-on idea. So now there’s a lot more sharing. People are visible. Our business plan is visible. The new business development is visible. All the stuff we do for charity is visible. People are being encouraged to take part. People know what’s going on. People have a choice. We’ve still a long way to go. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but that change is happening.
What do you think clients are noticing?
I think they are seeing different values. They are walking into our offices and seeing the way we work and what we’re about. Someone said to me “Hey, just saw that ‘Best Place to Work’ plaque. That’s impressive.” “Oh yeah, and we just got Investors In People silver.” “Wow. How many times have you gone in for that?” “It’s our first time out.” “Wow. Really glad you been looking after your people.” And we’re seeing the quality of people we are now attracting into and retaining in the business. Really good people.
How do you think the business itself is benefitting from that?
It’s strange old times. We’re on the precipice of Brexit and nobody knows what’s coming. The business is together and I think that’s a really big thing – we’re moving forwards together. Whatever is coming up and the stuff that we can’t control, or whatever it throws at us, we’ll be ready for it. It feels like a very collective alliance. We’re more aligned than we’ve ever, ever been and that’s from top to bottom. From Millennials and Gen X to Baby Boomers – they’re coming with different viewpoints. No-one is feeling isolated.
What would you say The One Leadership Project has brought?
Oh, the word I always use for you guys is you set the fire. You set the catalyst. We wouldn’t be where we are today if you guys hadn’t been here. We didn’t know each other and actually to a certain extent didn’t really care about each other, and didn’t communicate with each other. You sat us in a room and we did that exercise. That was when things started to change. There was a undercurrent, then, of, “Guys, we can talk to each other.” It set the ground in motion. It set a huge change in the way the business set up, and the way the business is run. That was the acorn, that was the catalyst.
That’s quite a difference
It’s a massive one. Everybody’s voice is now heard. Everybody listens to everybody else. If you have a view, you are able to speak it without interruption. And then we discuss what people have said. That is a huge change. It’s the heartbeat of the business. Actually, if you look after the people, they look after your customers, and respectively they’ll look after your shareholders. Which is a completely different mindset. If you’ve got more engaged people – we go back to that happy, engaged people – they will be more productive people. Simples. Paying them more, giving them table football, doesn’t make them any more engaged, and doesn’t make them more productive. But if you are encouraging them, and encouraging them to follow their ideas and their innovation and stuff like that, then you’re going to get more.
Where can you see this journey taking you now?
I think for us, it can only take us forward. This world is changing. We need to be one of the ones that are most agile, the ones that are more together. We’re creating the difference in the difference. The way we are operating is changing, our business is changing.There’s no one else doing what we’re doing. If you’re waking up now, you’re three, four years behind the clock, and you’re sort of trying to work it out when the world is changing. We are there now.
You’re leading for this within the business. What’s it been like for you to work together?
Oh, God. To me, it’s probably been the most exciting 18 months. It’s been frustrating at times. But like most things in life, nothing ever comes easy, and if you keep working at it, then the reward will come. We’re seeing that. The penny has dropped. There were times where I actually felt like, “You know what? I can’t do this anymore.” And actually, without your sensible guidance, hand on the shoulder, your ‘Let’s get this turned around’ bit, helping me understand where I was, how to carry it out, I probably would’ve walked away.
But I haven’t. And so your guidance, help, kindness, friendship was invaluable. The other thing is the what I’ve learned personally on the way through. There’s a great bit in your book, ‘It’s about you, but it’s not about you’, and I think it’s absolutely spot-on. Because it’s not about me, but it is. It’s a journey about us going somewhere. It’s a journey about me, and it’s about learning about me, and learning what I need to do, and what I can’t do. I have a better understanding now of my strengths and my development areas that I don’t think I ever had at any other time.
I’ve learnt that you don’t need to manage people to lead them. In my feedback one-to-one from the Lead Partner was how much he is noticing the difference in me, in my contribution and how much I was more bringing to the partnership. I’m enjoying it, and he could see it. So there’s the difference.
“Every time, they have created some magic.”
Phil Mulligan – CEO, the Landscape Institute
“The work we do makes a real difference to people and to society… We need to modernise, be attractive, develop; and that can be difficult. We have to keep a whole range of different opinions, perspectives and interest happy within one organisation.
Where One Leadership I think are at their greatest is where we have a large group of people who disagree or don’t have a shared vision; One Leadership are able to get progress and movement.
My experience of working with them is every time, they have created some magic… Every time we have exceeded the results that we could possibly have hoped for. There has been a real sense of purpose and achievement. It’s meant I’ve been able to progress on agendas that are vital.
They’re called One Leadership and they help us create one team to address our challenges.”