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BBC Worldwide Global Leadership Development

“…it’s not just the depth of knowledge that makes the difference. She also really gets people – with the insight to connect and bring them through the process.”
BBC Worldwide

“Across our organisation and around the world, we had close to 150 people in leadership roles. We set out to create a programme that would help them become better leaders – leading better teams and making better decisions. But we also wanted to turn this cadre into a community, by getting them to communicate more freely and by establishing the links that would open new opportunities throughout the organisation. The programme actually went further than that. It created a real sense of willing collaboration in the leadership team, and a level of trust that can be rare in large organisations. We even built a lot of friendships. And a lot of that is down to Oonagh.

‘Partner’ is one of those words we use too much, but she was genuinely invested in what we were doing: a real partner in the process. She’d never ask anyone to delve into their personal motivations or emotions without first doing so herself – opening up to show people the way.

Together, we developed and delivered a residential 5-day programme for groups of up to 20 leaders. There, we took them through a series of exercises designed to develop their strategic management skills, influencing abilities and authenticity.

She brought an in-depth understanding of the technical side of leadership development, but it’s not just the depth of knowledge that makes the difference. She also really gets people – with the insight to connect and bring them through the process. On one hand, there’s this warmth and humour that is incredibly engaging. But she also has real steel – an iron hand in a velvet glove. With these programmes, you’re dealing with the senior leaders. There’s a lot of ego in the room. But she never shied away from telling the truth to anyone (including me). But because she’s so funny and human, when she speaks, you listen – which makes her effective and impactful. I loved working with Oonagh.”

Satvinder Duhra,
Head of Learning & Development

The project

The organisation

BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the BBC and has a strong track record in financing and commercially exploiting British IP across numerous markets and platforms, returning almost £1bn to the BBC in the past five years, to be reinvested into programmes for BBC audiences in the UK. It has invested in, marketed and distributed global hits from BBC Studios, including Planet Earth II, winner of the Outstanding Documentary Series Emmy in 2017, sold to 233 territories; Doctor Who, sold to 239 territories, Top Gear, sold to 241 and Strictly Come Dancing, internationally licensed 54 times as Dancing with the Stars.

The aim

The “Inspiring Leaders: Leading for Results” programme was focused on members of BBCWW’s Global Leadership Team (GLT) and was aimed at creating a cadre of leaders globally who would take collective responsibility for delivering the strategy of BBCWW and for leading and inspiring others to do so. This was in the context of increasing competition from other content providers and distributors worldwide as well as funding pressures within the BBC. Supporting individual specialists and contributors in pursuing excellence not just in their own areas but seeing themselves as part of the broader system was essential to leveraging the potential of the organisation.

The work

Along with Sat in OD, we designed an intervention that covered leadership from 3 different lenses: the strategic, the behavioural and the authentic. For the strategic element, the programme was opened by the Chief Executive outlining the strategy and direction for the business and an opportunity was given to participants to explore  what the strategy meant for them individually and collectively. We coupled this then with leadership behaviour – strategic influence and engaging others. Finally, we worked with the leaders on their own personal, authentic leadership approach, helping them identify their own purpose, vision and actions to lead and inspire their own teams. The programme closed with the CEO talking through his own leadership journey and values.

The outcome

The programme created a very well connected network of leaders who shared strong relationships and a common understanding of and commitment to the overall strategy. This has been part of enabling BBC WW to remain a strong competitor in the market place and also to help them respond and adapt to change more fluidly.

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