Spurgeons – Leadership development and culture change

Spurgeons is one of the UK’s most experienced children’s charities and has been working with marginalised and disadvantaged children and young people for over 140 years. The charity was founded in 1867 when Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon responded to the desperate plight of children living on the streets of London and opened an orphanage in Stockwell, London.


Spurgeons is an expanding national children’s charity. Following a major structural reconfiguring in line with a new vision, Spurgeons invited Waverley Learning to support the leadership team as they shaped a new performance oriented culture over a two year period.


We conducted diagnostic interviews with representatives of the leadership community to gauge how people were making sense of the reconfiguration and their levels of understanding & commitment to the strategy going forward. With the CEO and representatives of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) we designed interventions targeting three levels of leadership in the organisation: SLT, Trustees and middle managers. These interventions were delivered in three phases, and incorporated times when we facilitated discussion and workshops with just one of the ‘levels’ (e.g. just SLT or just Trustees) and times when all three levels were involved together.

The first phase was designed to prepare the ground for cultural change and involved us in facilitating a different style of meeting and a different quality of dialogue through a Reconfiguration Review day, a Board Meeting, and then the charity’s annual conference.  This was followed by a series of two day programmes on the theme of leading cultural change.  The final phase was made up of a combination of 1:1 coaching and bespoke work with specific teams.


The impact was widespread and has had lasting effects. The SLT and the Trustees reported significant improvements in the levels of trust and in the quality of their dialogue, both as separate teams and when operating together as the board. The culture and atmosphere of their meetings is different now – more open, more productive, more decisive. There was a renewed ‘energy’ across the leadership community as individuals and teams began to step up to the leadership challenges facing the organisation.  Meanwhile, the performance of the charity began to move to a new level, exemplified by the winning of major new contracts and improved financial performance.