Vodafone - Balancing leadership culture to enable better people decisions

Our Work

Vodafone – balancing leadership culture to enable better people decisions


Vodafone is a FTSE 10 multinational telecommunications company with more than 430 million customers. With its headquarters in the UK, it is one of the world’s largest mobile telecoms firms in terms of both subscribers and revenues. Vodafone has its own networks in 26 countries and partner networks in more than 50 others.

The challenge

IG worked with Vodafone Group to identify the need to shift the balance of the leadership culture – currently dominated by pacesetting – to one with a greater emphasis on coaching. The ambition is that Vodafone leaders will be able to employ these tools and techniques, not just for one-to-one coaching but in a wide range of areas, including recruitment, assessment of future high-potential employees’ performance, and talent development.

What we are doing

Initially, Indigogold worked with Vodafone’s Group Talent Director and Chief People Officer to create a customised and expanding global programme that focused on increasing the quality and confidence of the people judgement skills of senior leaders.

We are currently delivering the second phase of this programme, working with senior leaders to achieve global reach across 16 markets.

Moving into 2018, we plan to engage Vodafone line managers as well as HR leaders, to improve further the quality of people decisions at the core of the business.

Our programme provides tailored judgement and skills training, plus a toolkit and techniques on how to coach effectively, as well as guiding leaders through their first talent relationships.

Ongoing supervision and support from Indigogold consultants help the leaders to refine their skills and judgements. This means they are able to deploy the approach flexibly, and harness a skill set that allows more productive talent conversations as the need arises.

Following the success of the initial coaching programme, it was rolled out to diverse markets including Germany, Ghana, India, Portugal, Romania, South Africa and Turkey.

The variety and reach of specialists from across the business has helped us to continue to build, train and refine both judgement and people decisions, with our consultants on hand to support and advise Vodafone leaders. Regular feedback from the newly trained managers has enabled us to assess the effectiveness of the coaching model and techniques.

By empowering the people who are making internal talent decisions, we have helped Vodafone work on team cohesion, while bolstering understanding that the context of each situation is crucial when making people judgements. For example, it has become clear that judgements about potential are not absolute; there are multiple factors – including market dynamics, team make-up, scope and detail of work undertaken and individual relationships ­– all of which build a view about how far and how fast someone can go.

Furthermore, Vodafone asked us to sit on its Coaching Faculty – a cross-functional group tasked with overseeing and steering the quality and value of coaching programmes across the organisation – to give fresh input and an external best-practice perspective.

Ongoing results

The programme is equipping members of Vodafone’s HR and broader leadership teams around the world with the tools and insights to embed coaching firmly within the company’s leadership culture.

Leaders and participants are empowered with the confidence to have candid conversations about capability. And – because the process focuses on giving leaders insight into those they are coaching – these leader coaches are rethinking their priorities, with fresh knowledge of their teams’ development needs.

Vodafone is already benefiting from the way this enhanced coaching culture is helping to navigate leadership and HR priorities, including recruitment, performance management and assessing potential high-performers.
Compared with before the programme, the newly trained coaches reported:

  • A 21% improvement in clarity about their coaching and talent development capability
  • A 20% improvement in understanding of such capability
  • A rise in coaching competency of 8%, since the programme began

There have also been positive reactions to the coaching programme, in terms of a cultural shift within the global company structure. There is now greater awareness of its impact and an increased perception of the importance of quality people judgements, and we are evolving the activity to include other markets as we move through 2017.

A leader’s view:

Graeme Yell, Global Head of Talent and Leadership at Vodafone

“This is a really powerful programme. By building coaching capability in our senior HR leaders, we have made a significant step forward – creating momentum and advocacy as we look to build more of a coaching culture in Vodafone. This programme is continuing, and we will update this case study with further results later in 2017.”

This programme is continuing, and we will update this case study with further results later in 2017.

If you have any questions, please contact the team on: info@indigogold.com or call us 0207 855 9606. 

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