Wavelength is proud to be a purpose-led organisation that monitors the impact we have on our clients and their businesses.
Nearly 900 leaders from a diverse mix of FTSE 100 companies, charities, social enterprises and public sector agencies have taken part in Wavelength Connect since 2010. Since the start we have regularly surveyed the participants and drawn conclusions about the impact that the leadership programme has had.
We’re not interested in hearing just the good bits (although we obviously love to know that Connect has met and exceeded expectations). We need to hear feedback on all aspects - the outstanding, the good, the bad and the ‘could have been better’ moments. Only then can we improve and continue to deliver against our commitment to our clients and be true to our purpose. And that’s really important to us.
Wavelength Connect Impact Report (2016-18)
Since 2010, nearly 900 leaders from over 110 leading FTSE 100 companies, social enterprises, charities and public-sector agencies have taken part in Connect. Over the years we have surveyed all those leaders.
This, the first comparative analysis, explores the impact on the leadership and behaviours of the Connect 2016-2018 Alumni. It compares the findings with our last Impact Report of 2015 which analysed the first five years of the programme.
Wavelength’s purpose is to make the world better through business by profoundly improving the quality of leadership. The Wavelength Connect programme has been running for ten years and is one of the main ways we aim to do this.
Each year Connect works with a cohort of around 100 leaders from a mix of large corporates, private businesses, charities, social enterprises and the public sector. Across six months the programme introduces them to leaders from a diverse range of sectors who have faced a broad range of leadership challenges, and engages them in conversations we believe are important such as digital disruption, diversity and inclusion, purpose, and leading change.
Impact measurement matters because if we don’t understand how we’re doing we can’t gauge if we’re delivering on our purpose. Impact reporting matters because purpose-driven organisations need to stand up for what they believe in and engage in honest conversations with the communities they seek to serve.
This is the second time we have measured and communicated the difference Connect makes to leaders.
The first was in 2016 when we surveyed the first five years of leaders attending Connect. Three years on many things have changed in the programme as a result of what we learned then and through on-going feedback from our Connect membership cohorts.
These changes include:
- More time spent with leaders before and after the core curriculum, helping ensure members understand how the programme will work and that we understand their needs;
- A greater emphasis on working with our corporate Sponsors to ensure learning is supported within the business and embedded into the day-to-day lives of leaders;
- Evolution of the big conversations we have with leaders to fit the times, including greater emphasis on leading change in the face of external change, workplace equality, mental health, and resilience;
- Repositioning the visits we make to organisations during Connect from ‘Best in Class’ to ‘Behind the Brand’. This reflects the reality that while many organisations are interesting, useful and insightful to visit none are perfect;
- Considering more deeply how Connect’s physical environment helps cultivate a safe and open space for honest conversations to take place and for learning;
- More inclusion of leaders and organisations from beyond Europe and America among our speakers, fuelled in part by Wavelength’s recent study tours to India and China;
- Webinars on key leadership themes to continue Alumni engagement post-Connect.
At a societal level, things have changed too during this short time-span with the leadership of institutions, organisations and society taking unexpected turns – some for the worse, some for the better – calling into question what sort of leadership the world needs right now and where it is to be found. Leaders have also emerged from unexpected quarters, including some of the younger members of society holding to account those in charge.
So, three years on are we still making a difference? This is the central question that we set out to answer as honestly and fully as possible.
Is Connect making a difference?
The impact measurement of 2016-2018 shows that Connect is overwhelmingly valued by the leaders who take part in it.
A majority of the survey questions asked received a ‘yes’ answer with most scores between 72% and 93%, including the number who find it either ‘really useful’ or ‘completely invaluable’.
This, the first comparative analysis of the programme’s impact, also shows strong consistency of performance with 8 of the 10 core questions receiving a score within 5% variance on 2016.
Connect is valued for its uniqueness and for its impact, particularly at a personal level, which is achieved by:
- Giving members more courage to act back in their organisations and to stick to what they believe in;
- Helping members look beyond their sectors for intelligence in the face of change, for inspiration and for ideas and realise the value of doing this as a leadership habit;
- Creating an environment where it’s possible to acknowledge that almost all leaders face the same leadership struggles – irrespective of position, sector or organisation – and that vulnerabilities and mistakes are normal;
- Offering a safe space within which to reflect on personal purpose, to think more clearly and strategically, and for helping them build their armoury of stories, tools, and approaches to different leadership challenges;
- Stressing the importance of others – both the people leaders work alongside and those in their broader networks – in the face of the sense of isolation senior leadership can bring with it.
Against this largely positive backdrop there were, however, weaknesses and comparing the data to 2016 shows that these weaknesses have also remained consistent. Most notably and disappointingly these include 13% more members answering ‘no’ to having been helped or helping people they’ve met through the program. There were also significant variances across the three years surveyed, with 2017 scoring almost all questions higher than the other two years which again gives pause for thought and impetus for action.
Researching and writing the report has also revealed that in places our research approach may not be as fit for purpose as it once was: this is something we will tackle too.
Overall the picture this report paints is overwhelmingly positive. It has helped us to identify what Connect offers that’s special and that we can build on. It also highlights a small number of key areas where we must innovate and improve. Both matter deeply to us because to achieve our purpose in the world we cannot be complacent and we cannot stand still.
The results of our survey in brief:
Overall, how useful has been Connect been to you as a leader?
1. My organisation has directly benefited?
2. I act with more courage?
3. I have tools / approaches I still use?
4. I have a bank of stories and insights I draw on?
5. I am clearer on my purpose as a leader?
6. I have helped people and/or been helped by people I met through Wavelength?
7. People have said I am better at helping others with their leadership challenges?
8. I have consciously built a stronger network to support me/my team?
9. I actively look at what goes on outside my sector?
10. Other people have commented that I’m a better/happier leader/person?