To all external appearances, this business was already a great success. With more than 170 employees from a standing start less than 10 years previously, and strong year-on-year growth built on a highly scalable business model, it came as no surprise to learn that the Owners were planning ahead towards a capital event.
As very experienced and successful entrepreneurs already, they knew that any Private Equity investor would focus quickly on the quality of their leadership team and their capability to lead the business through its next phase of growth, which would present new and different challenges to those encountered to date.
Our remit was to help a very capable group of functional heads become an effective and credible leadership team. The challenge was to improve their collective capability to plan ahead and take decisions based on robust business cases. Whilst they didn’t need to become accountants, they did need to increase their financial acumen.
Day 1 was enlightening: as individuals arrived, there was puzzlement between them as to why some people were in the room and others not. Additionally, there was clearly an ‘inner group’ and an ‘outer circle’. What we had understood to be a leadership team clearly did not have a strong sense of identity itself.
Secondly, the people in the room had no context and therefore no frame of reference within which to understand why they were there and what to expect from the programme.
Over the course of the following 18 months, we delivered a programme based around three pillars: developing strategic business leadership, managing growth and financial rigour; involving a specialist financial coach in the latter when we felt that would help the participants.
This content and the way of working was sufficiently agile to allow us to address operational issues that arose from time to time and which would otherwise have distracted the participants.
As the programme progressed, regular written and face to face reviews were held with the business Owners to ensure that, as the business context evolved, we were aware and ready to adapt the programme to ensure that it remained in sync with their requirements.
Towards the end of the programme, the business was successful in raising the capital it required, and during due diligence all of the potential investors commented on the clear alignment of the leadership team.