Leadership capability development and succession planning

Elgin are a family-founded UK solar and storage platform with offices in Dublin, London, Sydney and Germany. They are the leading solar energy company in the UK and Ireland and have ambitions to be the leading solar energy company in Europe – originating, developing and delivering utility scale solar and storage projects across the globe. They were a team of 14 people 18 months ago, have 85 FTE today (2024), and have ambitions to grow to over 250 FTE in the next two years.


Elgin is standing up brand new services, functions and capabilities alongside a highly aggressive growth and BAU delivery plan; this is requiring significant change across the organisational structure, roles, operational processes and skills needed.  It is also inevitably bringing significant change to the role of leaders – and effective leadership will be critical to achieving the plans.


The current senior leadership team are highly talented entrepreneurs and engineers – and their natural tendency is to be operationally focused, leading to siloed behaviours. There is a need for the senior team to shift to a strategic focus with day-to-day operational management residing with the next layer of management.


The C-suite work effectively across their layer, however moving forwards, there’s a need for greater collaboration and integration across the broader Leadership Team, facilitating the flow of information both up and down through the organisation to support effective leadership of the growing teams, risk management and decision-making.


Understanding the capability and expertise required to drive growth, addressing identified gaps, and embedding a mindset of succession was agreed as a priority at this stage in Elgin’s growth in order to aid in the delivery of the multi-year strategy; high potential employees should be identified and developed to be the leaders of the future and the current team need support to develop into fully aligned, cohesive team.


In addition, Elgin was in the process of sourcing Private Equity funding to support the growth trajectory, which in itself brought additional challenges and additional emphasis on the need for well evidenced governance and risk management.


The first phase was focused on what was needed today – establishing the foundation for growth by helping the leadership to enhance their capability and operate as a high performing team so that they were ready for the challenges ahead in leading Elgin as it grows. We approached this through a series of workshops, bringing the leadership team together to develop a shared understanding of the vision and the valuable role each will play in achieving it, developing strategic goals and providing tools to help them to operate seamlessly as a team; for example, we used the ‘manual of me’ for sharing personal insights to build trust and psychological safety.


The second phase was focused on what will be needed for tomorrow – delivering a succession plan, leadership and talent programmes, to make sure the next generation of leaders are set up for success in running the larger and more complex business in the future. Firstly, we identified the roles in scope for succession planning – and the list of high performing individuals to be matched against those roles.


We designed a 360-survey tailored around the specific future competencies for Elgin – and for the top 30 individuals completed both this and a leadership personality profiling assessment.  The data for each individual was then used in a 2-hour private session with an occupational psychologist, who worked with them to identify their strengths, development areas, motivations and aspirations.


It also provided a wealth of both quantitative and qualitative data for identifying the ‘high potential’ successors for C-suite and leadership roles to determine immediate successors as well as the ‘high potentials’ for the future. The individuals now have great insight and a foundation to develop themselves going forwards – with the support of their managers.


The third phase will be about how to achieve the vision and deliver the goals – building out the future state target operating model (TOM) to support clean and efficient growth and to build the roadmap for how to get there. Project One developed a Governance Framework as an early priority in delivery of the TOM, to support the effective decision making and flow of communications. This has included the overall framework tailored to Elgin and its operations, a TOR for each forum, RACI and key roles, timetable by month and year, templates for the inputs for each forum, delegated authorities, and associated rules of engagement.


The change management approach will be key to delivering the cultural and behavioural shift away from decision-making by a small number of C-suite in isolation to strict adherence to decision-making ‘in the room’ under a governance framework.  The aim has been to ‘take people on the journey’ with two stages of ‘test and learn’ to test the inputs and then to complete ‘dry run’ sessions prior to the new investor coming in – with learning sessions and adjustments after each session.  There is also a broader engagement plan and key messages across the business.


The main challenges were i) achieving exactly the right balance of maturity for Elgin and making sure everything was tailored to them to provide the foundation for growth without overengineering anything and ii) people’s engagement and time when they were already busy delivering operational work, large deals with clients and growing their teams iii) driving behavioural changes through effective engagement and change management.


What made this unique was the scale of the ambition and the depth of talent and energy in this remarkable team for delivering something so fundamentally important for the future of our planet.


The workshop outcomes clarifying each teams’ role and contribution and developing a compelling narrative for each functional leader to share across the business and with their teams is already supporting alignment of the Leadership Team to drive performance.


Having the time to work together and build trust in a safe space was key; encouraging the leadership to show vulnerability has helped to strengthen the team and their appreciation for the different perspectives and styles around the table. They are already showing greater consideration for one another and are starting to operate as a much more cohesive team.


There are now succession plans and contingency plans in place for the Leadership Team mitigating a key risk for the business and supporting retention and motivation of key high potential future leaders. Each person with a clear understanding and a sense of ownership for their own personal development going forwards.  At an organisation level, it has provided the data needed to underpin the delivery of really tailored and focused leadership and succession development programmes to be used to help those people achieve their potential within Elgin.


The introduction of a Governance Framework has provided the foundation for improved decision making, effectively using the collective intellectual capital and experience of the Leadership Team and for effective delegation. The original model whereby 2-3 key leaders were making all the decisions and there was minimal if any delegated authority is no longer sustainable as the organisation grows and evolves.



Project One value Add:


Elgin had previously been working with Big 4 consultancies and although they found them to provide broad knowledge, their view is often based on historical industry views – which are not necessarily applicable in Elgin as a new business in an emerging industry.


Project One are different in that we:


  • embed ourselves into the organisation – taking the time to really understand the business and people
  • bring extensive breadth and depth of experience supporting the design of fully tailored and bespoke solutions, working closely as part of Elgin’s team.

“My experience is that Project One have deeper experience than other consultancies, a team that has a wide skillset to support us to grow. They’re giving us the tools and the toolbelt to grow.”

Ronan Kilduff

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