One of the great privileges People Academy has, is we get to work with a diversity of world class organisations. In 2015 we were delighted to work with another such organisation, this time in the legal world...


Birketts is a law firm based in four locations in the East of England with over 500 staff and an annual turnover approaching £40m. The business has grown substantially over the last decade and has ambitions for further expansion.  The board recognised that the changing landscape for law firms spells the end of old management practices, and there is a need to swiftly pave the way for a different style of leadership and organisational culture to attract and retain talent for the future. People Academy were invited to work with them to develop and implement an Emerging Leaders programme, at the heart of the firm’s Growth Strategy.

We know at People Academy that a business depends upon the ability to harness people’s engagement and enthusiasm in order to achieve the results it needs to survive and thrive. The solution, often, is to create learning that centres on process, task and skills. But, in and of themselves, these are not sufficient. The often-missing component is clarity around the way people behave and communicate with one another. They may develop skills and be trained in process, but if they are not able to make the adjustment to fit the often very different styles of the people with whom they have to engage, manage, negotiate or work, the results will likely be, at best, mediocre. 


We recommended a programme of events over a six month period, starting off with a one-day workshop, focusing on “The People Dimension”:

Self Awareness - understanding as a leader how others see you

"People Acuity” - reading other people

Leader Agility - adapting to different people and situations

Self Management - ensuring the footprint you leave as a leader is one that creates the conditions for a high performing team


This workshop was followed by four half-day themed sessions, in small groups every 6-8 weeks.  The themes included:

Manager of Performance

Manager as Talent Developer

Manager as Coach

Manager as Leader


With the same time intervals, each delegate attended a series of four Coaching Circles. These circles (effectively, action learning in a group coaching style) provided a dynamic learning environment, rich in real-life challenges, serving as a vehicle for individual reflection. Most importantly, the outcomes involved commitment to actions in real leadership challenges, monitored by the group and the facilitator. The groups formed strong bonds, involving equally important support and challenge (not least, constructive peer pressure to deliver against contracted pledges). This approach ensures that learning is successfully transferred to the working environment and places the responsibility for the transfer of learning on to participants by concentrating their minds on specific actions which relate to a current challenge in the work place. 


The final themed workshop was ‘ Manager as Leader’. This really dug deep into what that means in the changing world the firm faces, and the implications for leadership in the next decade. From this came the creation of a new Blueprint for leadership in Birketts. 


The lawyers taking part in the programme described the series of events as some of the best development they had ever had. The outcome is that Birketts are now working with a ‘ live' Blueprint for leadership in the future. The second cohort of emerging leaders are ready to experience the same in 2016 and because of its success, the ‘Emerging Leaders programme’ is being submitted for a training award on 2016.