Southern Water – Leadership Development


Committed to achieving improvement across a key set of industry measures, and aware that this could only be achieved by a shift in leadership, Southern Water turned to Waverley  to devise a leadership learning process designed to fulfil this commitment. The intent was to create a cadre of 150 managers, across all levels and functions, who would form a ‘critical mass’ for driving improvement and change in the organisation, particularly in customer service.


Our ‘Rocketing Performance' programme took leaders on a six month, four stage journey, supported by action learning and coaching. The first module is all about deepening self awareness, accessing talent and forming a clear personal vision. The second module gave them the space and the tools to reorganise their priorities and plans in order to realise this vision. The third module focuses on the influencing, negotiation and political skills necessary to realise change in an increasingly networked context. The final module challenged leaders' thinking and skills to ‘up' performance in their given area.


In follow-up evaluation, four years after the programme, over 90% of managers recorded demonstrable improvements in ‘leadership influence’ and ‘management effectiveness’. People’s memories of the programme after such a long time were remarkable. “There is an increased buzz and sense of teamwork that still remains in place, resulting in activities even now….”. “Best SW course I've been on by a long way…”. “Made me step out of my comfort zone more and take on challenges and develop working relationships.”

Last year, the company initiated a major operational change programme and improved 20 per cent against the standards used to measure customer service in water companies.

“Waverley really listened so there was a good fit and they really understood what we wanted. 

They had excellent people to run the programmes…. It really gelled with the business at the time because we had a pressing need.”

Mandy Dowden, Head Of L&D, Southern Water