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Wincanton - 'Get Ahead' Leadership Development Programme

The brief

Wincanton is a leading third party logistics and supply chain solutions provider in the UK and Ireland, committed to providing innovative, flexible solutions that help customers to compete in their chosen markets with confidence.

Wincanton asked Aspire to design, develop and deliver their ‘Get Ahead’ leadership and management development programme for junior managers aspiring to middle managers and beyond.

What we did

Programme Overview - The Get Ahead programme was designed by Aspire with close input from managers across Wincanton.  We used the Leadership Competency Framework and the Wincanton Balanced Scorecard as start points to develop a draft programme, and then brought it to life by asking managers to describe what excellent performance from an M2 (equivalent of a middle manager) would look like in various jobs.  These conversations helped us to shape the very practical content of the programme, and enabled us to use real business case studies, examples and guest speakers/facilitators in every session.

Selection - Candidates apply via an application, providing a summary of achievements to date and a business case to support their application.  The manager recommends their application.

Candidates are sifted and invited to an assessment centre, where the business and HR assess candidates as they make a presentation, take part in a group activity, a 1-1 performance role play and an interview.  In 2015/16 the selected candidates came from a mix of sectors, roles and experiences.

Leading a Commercial Business - The programme starts by lifting the delegates out of their operational roles to explore the business from a strategic perspective, considering the complexities of the markets in which they operate and understanding the drivers to commercial balance and growth.  One of the Executive Directors joins the group to share their Leadership Journey, articulate their expectations of managers, and make connections between the bottom line and their role.

Delegates are then tasked to go back to their roles and meet with their senior managers to understand the commercial picture of their own business area.  This informs a project later in the programme.

Managing People and the Team  - In the second module, the attention shifts to the delegates’ leadership and their relationships with colleagues.  The focus is on “getting the best out of others” through flexibility, using Situational Leadership, motivation models and stories, and Insights Colour Energy profiles to understand self and others. 

Delegates identify an area to delegate and then go away to delegate it in practice.

Managing Projects - Masterclass In the third session, the delegates are introduced to Wincanton’s Project Management Toolkit by the company’s Transformation Manager.  They use real examples of growth and efficiency projects to bring the toolkit to life, and then the delegates use the toolkit to scope out their own Improvement Projects.

Delegates agree their Improvement project with their sector managers and begin to implement it.

Personal Impact - This module uses Emotional Intelligence to structure a journey of insight and confidence building.  The delegates use Emotional Intelligence profiles and 360 feedback to uncover blind spots and consider development needs. 

Delegates continue with their projects and prepare to present their Improvement Projects to the Exec Team.

Demonstrating Leadership - The delegates seek support and sponsorship from the Wincanton Executive Team for their Improvement Projects in a series of presentations and pitches.  They present how the investment made in their development will be repaid through the outcomes of their projects and the implementation of their leadership skills.


The programme runs over six months and delegate engagement and learning are both monitored closely. 

The impact of the programme at a commercial level is measured through the realisation of projects.  A couple of examples from a recent cohort are:

  • Change in warehouse picking which sped up the process, increasing efficiency and saving £22,000 per year.
  • Installing driver monitoring kits in cabs to optimise energy, saving £84,000 in fuel over 3 months as well as improving driving behaviour and reducing emissions. This project is now being rolled out across the whole fleet.
  • Driver productivity has saved 2600 hours per year, equating to a £46,800 per year saving.
  • Reviewing the shrink wrap usage and consulting with the supplier has reduced the waste by half, introduced a new eco wrap, lowered the cost per metre, increased the metre per roll and has resulted a saving of £28,475, £15,044 and £30,000 at sites across Wincanton.

70% of delegates have been promoted as a result of attending the programme.

Feedback is sought throughout and satisfaction with the programme is high, with levels of 100% strongly agreeing the “Programme was worthwhile” and 92% that they can “apply learning to the role”.  

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