Leading with confidence, self-awareness and agility

Article 01 January 2024

At Sheppard Moscow, we have the leadership development expertise to support leaders at all organisational levels – from emerging leaders to executives. One of our flagship leadership programmes is in partnership with a global financial institution to help newly appointed senior, mid-career leaders take the next step in leadership with confidence, self-awareness and agility. 

This is the first in a four-part series exploring our work helping leaders successfully make the transition from a technical specialist role. These are leaders already well established in their organisation; they’re in high-ranking positions with a huge span of control often spread across geographies and time zones. In this programme, we help them navigate a significant career transition from individual contributors and technical task team leaders to leaders of whole units of people and teams. We are helping them to build a house, and this programme creates the solid foundation on which to build it. 

The significance of sponsorship

The starting point for a programme like this is getting the right level of organisational visibility of the programme and a senior sponsor involved from the outset, lending their support and encouragement to participants. That support is a public declaration that the organisation is invested in and places value on the programme, and that participants should take themselves and their colleagues’ learning opportunity seriously.

The personal participation of the sponsor is also so important. Our approach to the human dynamics of the programme ensures the sponsor doesn’t look at it from an elevated position, but rather works alongside the leaders – engaging with them in leader-to-leader dialogues. This requires them to be vulnerable, human, and open about their own leadership journey and some of the challenges and difficulties they might have had in making the transition themselves.

Opening with reflection

Reflection is an important part of the programme. For sponsors, it’s important to reflect on what it was like when they were in the same position; for participants, it’s an opportunity to consider what has brought them here.

The Reflection Journal we ask participants to complete is an integral part of the programme, and it’s introduced in the Foundation Stage. There are a number of questions which we ask participants to consider: What are the strengths that have got me here? What are the things that I've had to let go of? What are the areas that I've found most challenging? What are the biggest issues facing me and my team as I take on the role?

In keeping with the spirit of reflection, we start the programme with a three-way conversation (Participant, Manager, Sheppard Moscow Consultant). For some, this may be the first reflective conversation they’ve had with their manager about themselves, their strengths, their development areas, the opportunities and the expectations of the role. It’s a significant moment, a real opportunity to pause and focus on what things they might need to do differently if they want to be at their best.

And connection

Developing a strong sense of connection is central to another integral part of the programme – cross-cohort Learning Teams. These are small groups of participants from a cross-section of the cohort, carefully selected for maximum diversity and breadth of organisational experience, which are formed at the beginning of the programme. These Learning Teams offer space for support, sharing and connection with other leaders who are on a similar journey. They create a sense of feeling like you're not alone and that you've got a safe place to go and share what's going on for you, the challenges, the opportunities and the frustrations that inevitably come with being a leader in a complex organisation.

We deliberately facilitate that first Learning Team session so that the group is well set up and connected, with some ground rules around how they're going to be together and work together over the course of the programme.

This Foundation stage provides senior sponsorship, space for personal reflection and strong cohort connection which set the stage for an impactful learning journey. In the next instalment we’re going deeper into this leaders programme to share how it unfolds – with a specific focus on emotional intelligence, what it means to be a people leader and the nuance of team dynamics.

Follow for Part 2 , EQ for effectively leading people and teams ...

Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_027.jpg Aoife Keane
Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_117.jpg Tsheli Lujabe