Smith & Nephew - global leadership development at multiple levels

“I’ve enjoyed every aspect, from the coaching to the workshops as well as the ALG’s. I’d recommend it to anyone.” Claire Gribben, Delegate

Case studies

Smith & Nephew are a global medical technology business dedicated to helping improve people's lives. They have almost 11,000 employees and a presence in more than 90 countries.


Smith & Nephew were looking for a global leadership development programme targeted at both first line and middle managers across the UK and China. They wanted to equip their people with the skills that would enable them to be better leaders and managers within the Smith & Nephew business and be able to lead high performing teams. The business was focusing on growth and wanted to become more nimble and agile and reaffirm its connection with its purpose - to support healthcare professionals in their daily efforts to improve the lives of their patients. They saw the development of both of these management groups key to achieving this.


We worked in collaboration with Smith & Nephew to co-create the programme. A key consideration was the fact that the programme for first line managers and the programme for middle managers needed to be aligned but the content different enough so that delegates could progress onto the next level and still get the benefits. From this the iGrow programme, for first line managers, and iLead programme, for middle managers, were created.

Prior to the programme modules starting the delegates attended a launch event, to outline the key outcomes and introduce the content to them. Throughout the program they, received 1:1 telephone coaching, to identify the areas of development that they really wanted to focus on delegates were also placed into Action Learning Groups (ALG) made up of delegates on the programme from a range of different areas of the business. They met in between every module to share ideas, practice their coaching styles and also discuss any challenges they were facing. These groups have proved to be a highlight of the program for the delegates, they have expanded their network, supported one another and have formed groups that are sustainable beyond the formal learning process.

There were four modules that included workshop learning, business simulations and a business improvement project (BIP). The BIP challenged the delegate to improve the Smith & Nephew business in the area that they worked in. Two business simulations were run, the first focused on change management where the delegates developed stakeholder management, influencing and communication skills. The second was tailored specifically to the Smith & Nephew business where they had to grow their market share in a new market. It focused on setting them up to be able to lead business performance better, develop their commercial and strategy skills and improve their ability as a leader.

The modules were followed up by a graduation event where the delegates presented back their BIP ideas to senior leaders. Each ALG also presented back to the rest of the group to discuss the learning journey that they’d been on and how they would plan to move forward in their development after the programme.  


  • First line managers showed increases in all aspects of leadership behaviours measured in pre and post 360
    • Significant improvements were seen in ‘knowing the business’, ‘focusing on the customer’ and ‘building strong relationships’
  • Middle managers showed increases in all aspects of leadership behaviours measured in pre and post 360
    • Significant improvements were seen in ‘inspirational leadership’, ‘delivering on commitments’ and ‘building strong relationships’
  • In the first 6 months following the program 25% of attendees had either taken a promotion or had taken in increased responsibilities and scope in their existing role.


We now feel that we can aspire to be different. We are going out there to lead by example. We feel that we can make a real change in the business.

Sarah Burton, Delegate Smith & Nephew