TOTAL UK Management Development Programme

‌On 7 October 2005 TOTAL celebrated the success of its top 100 managers who had all successfully completed the company’s Management Development Programme, designed and delivered in partnership with Lancaster University Management School.

Programme development: creating a new culture of leadership

“The TOTAL Management Development Programme is designed to develop a thorough understanding of and practical competence in the role of a leader who achieves results, both individually and through others. It is a programme that focuses on behavioural aspects of management, as opposed to a skills or knowledge-based one, and it integrates personal growth, leadership development and commercial awareness,” says Dr Sally Watson, Director of the Lancaster Leadership Centre at Lancaster.

“The programme really tackles managers’ behaviours and seeks to challenge their attitude to leadership. It is very much about ‘getting the genie out of the bottle’ and enabling and empowering managers to manage,” she explains. 

“The initial objective of the programme was to shift the attitudes of our senior managers and work towards achieving a clear change in management behaviour. Every single manager within the business has the knowledge to be a successful manager and leader: our work with Lancaster University enables them to access and apply this knowledge. It is not a prescriptive programme, but rather one to encourage a sustainable change throughout the business,” says Aidan Dwan, Director of Human Resources, Corporate Communications and Insurance at TOTAL UK.

TOTAL’s board of directors has been a central element in the programme's success. “The directors have played a huge role in the design and delivery of the programme, not least through their support of each cohort on its development journey, but also in their contribution and backing of the Leadership Forum at the formal end of each cohort’s programme,” acknowledges Dr Watson.

Programme structure: delivering a shift in management behaviour

The TOTAL Management Development Programme is undertaken in cohorts of twenty managers who participate in three separate modules. Its structure is designed to be simple and supportive for all those involved.

The one-day start-up session prepares managers for the programme experience, providing them with background to the course and the opportunity to meet with their personal coach, who remains pivotal to each manager throughout the programme. The programme is introduced by one of the Directors - crucial evidence that the Board of Directors is committed to the ongoing programme.

The next phase follows six weeks later and involves delegates attending a five-day course, based at Lancaster University. During this phase participants learn about the different leadership styles and the various circumstances in which these different styles can be employed. More importantly, they are taught how to apply them in order to get the best from their teams. Throughout the programme, communication is key and delegates are introduced to the intentional and unintentional aspects of communication. On a practical level it also teaches senior managers to recognise and value diversity. 

Delegates are also required to take some ‘time out’ to complete a course in self-analysis and spend some time alone in the Lake District to reflect on where they believe they are today and where they want to be in the immediate and more long-term future.

The programme concludes with a Leadership Forum that allows managers to demonstrate what they have learnt on the programme. Participants work in their small teams of three to four managers and present to the rest of the group on a project or strategy that will add value to the business.

“Each Leadership Forum was a great success, often with projects being signed off there and then, or teams being asked to provide further information to earn the board’s seal of approval,” says Aidan Dwan.

“I think that both the senior managers and the directors were impressed with the quality of work being presented, which has enabled projects to get off the ground quickly and for managers to have a real influence on the future of the company,” adds Dr Watson.

Programme impact: securing a measurable return on investment

“TOTAL has been able to make a distinct link between the growth of its managers and the development of the company. Many of the business projects that have been signed off by the board have cost-savings or performance-related savings attached to them,” assesses Dr Watson.

Aidan Dwan continues: “The programme has definitely achieved our objectives and has generally been very well received by those that have attended. We have clear examples of senior managers who have demonstrated their improved management skills and those who have made positive ‘lifestyle’ changes.”

Related links

For more information about other executive development programmes at Lancaster University Management School, please contact Chris Saunders.