Case Study: Blue Cross - Taking The Lead With Development

In: Case StudyDate: Nov 16, 2023By: Claire Lickman

Blue Cross is a charity that really understands the benefit of personal development. The Chief Executive, Sally de la Bedoyere, recognised that people need to grow and flourish, and that seeing mastery develop really gives people motivation. Happy delivered 23 individual one-off coaching sessions for the senior leadership team to aid their personal development. This was an exciting project and surprisingly the first of its kind that we have been asked to do.

Blue Cross is a national charity that provides a wide range of veterinary, re-homing and education services to help as many pets as possible live healthy lives in happy homes.

Facilitating 23 individual one-off coaching sessions for the senior leadership team

“Obviously the details are confidential, but I just wondered, are people being selfish enough?”

When Sally de la Bedoyere, Chief Executive of national pet charity Blue Cross, said this to me during her one-off development coaching session this summer, a big smile crossed my face. She was asking whether the other senior leaders at Blue Cross had felt able to really think about their own personal growth as well as the more obvious organisational goals.

Here was an organisation and leader that really understood the benefit of personal development. Recognition that people need to grow to flourish, and that motivation can come in large does – not only from seeing the purpose in what we do, but seeing our mastery develop.

It was just one of 23 individual one-off coaching sessions that I did with the senior team at Blue Cross over the summer. The idea was the brainchild of their People and Development team. It was an exciting project to work on and surprisingly the first of its kind that we have ever been asked to do.

So often, development plans are talked about in half-hearted ways in just a few minutes in an appraisal. But here was a charity truly committed to making this a priority. What struck me early on was how committed, conscientious and hard-working the senior team were, and to me it felt so important that this time had been carved out for them to concentrate on this area amongst all the strategic and operational priorities that inevitably fill their working hours.

Giving people space for their own development

It was wonderful to give people the space to really explore and talk through what they wanted to work on individually. Some came with plans almost finalised; others came with initial thoughts. Some changed their focus during the coaching and were able to hone in on what might truly make a difference to them personally.

I loved the broad sense in which we were able to explore what motivated people and different approaches they might take. Many were able to identify internal colleagues who were potential mentors in the skills or expertise they were hoping to develop. Others planned to approach other organisations to build networks, and share best practice and real experience. In some cases, it was more about reflective practices, training programmes, ongoing coaching, or gaining clarity about a situation and how they would tackle it. As always when coaching, I felt privileged to be able to share people’s innermost thoughts and support them in some way to turning these into more concrete plans.

Feedback from the sessions

At the end of the individual sessions, there were some nice comments to show that the space to really think had made a difference.

Comments included:

  • “It’s good this coaching stuff isn’t it”
  • “That has really helped, thank you”
  • “When can I book another session?”

I look forward to a long-term partnership with Blue Cross and hearing about the impact this has going forwards.

I was lucky enough to have most of the rest of the summer off to spend time with my two young children - but if there was anything that was going to drag me away from days spent playing in parks and splashing in streams, then this was it! This project perfectly combined my two great passions: development and coaching.

Happy are open to supporting your organisation in any way we can to help your people thrive. Find out more about our 1-to-1 Executive Coaching sessions here.

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