Permission to Lead - A Leadership Development Programme for Kettle Foods

The Challenge

Our brief was to support a culture change programme to develop more engaging and empowering leaders. A blended development programme meant that we were able to tailor it to each individual's needs, whilst supporting a consistent approach to leadership.

The Solution

We needed to define what the "new" leadership looked like, so working in partnership with the executive team,during facilitated discussions, we were able to identify the key elements of the desired leadership approach. It was important that the Executive Team were involved in, and part of, the development journey so the programme was launched with an "unconference" flavour where the key facilitators were the Executive Team.

The launch event really set the scene and the team challenges, world café discussions, strategic exploration and the drumming all indicated that Kettle Foods was asking its leaders to do something different! The programme was launched with the theme - ‘Permission to Lead'. Using a range of diagnostic tools including The Quest Profiler®, participants received feedback on their current leadership performance. We then supported each individual to create a development plan to define objectives and steps to achieve them A series of three group workshops on key leadership themes created space for the leaders to explore their role and style and were based on the Steve Radcliffe model - Future - Engage - Deliver. This really helped to encourage real collaboration and airing of business challenges which were further debated outside of the workshops.

Action learning sets were organised and initially facilitated encouraging participants to tackle real issues and challenges with their peers. Coaching surgery days were offered to provide the opportunity for leaders to discuss their development in a one-to-one environment. The directors were trained in mentoring skills and the group were invited to select a mentor outside of their own function. To deliver the programme we worked in partnership with Kettle Foods HR using in-house resources where possible to encourage long term sustainability, using eras ltd resources where appropriate.


Taking 30 leaders through this initial programme has created a strong leadership team at this level. The group were brought back together at a review event around 7 months after the programme launch and identified a number of tangible outcomes from the programme. Most cited increased self-awareness, improved relationships and increased collaboration across the business. The Executive Team collectively identified that they felt more able to delegate and had experienced much less escalation to them on key decisions. Numerous examples of joint problem-solving, innovation and people development emerged and the sales and profitability growth was attributed, in part, to the effectiveness of this group of leaders. Action learning sets had taken on strategic projects and seen real success, including a revised Business Communication Strategy and a new set of Organisational Values!