UK ICF Prism Award 2016 

Prism award photo 2

The UK ICF PRISM Award was supported for the second year by the Institute of Directors.

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The UK’s leading business network to help businesses of all size to help access the essential skills, powerful insight and crucial networking opportunities they need to succeed.

 In 2016 it was awarded to Electricity North West (ENWL), a regional electricity distribution network based in North West England employing 1600 people.


Sally McGuire at ENWL,

Beverley Grant, PCC and

Sara Barrie, ACC



ENWL’s coaching-centred transformation programme has seen employee engagement scores double and leadership scores increase by 74 per cent.

The success of the programme, which also boosted strong customer service scores, was due to combining internal and external expertise, introducing a simplified leadership framework, and increased localised ownership driving responsibility, productivity and communication.

Based in the Northern Powerhouse, the electricity distribution network operator understood the key role it plays in developing the economic, social and environmental success of the region it serves. Its leadership team recognised that organisational climate is a critical success factor in enhancing business performance through influencing employee behaviour. To help deliver exceptional value to its customers, it needed to take transformative action to drive its performance and efficiency in readiness for the performance period between April 2015 and March 2023. A focused and sustained investment in the development of the company’s leadership team through coaching was identified as the way forward.

The strategic vision for this three year transformation programme was delivered in three planned stages – Explore, Engage and Evolve.

To ensure its change programme delivered to the very highest standards, Customer and Business Services Director, Helen Sweeney, combined in-house skills with external experts, welcoming new and diverse thinking and applying world-class practices.  This included engaging with renowned business schools, Harvard and Cranfield; psychologists, Glowinkowski International and Saville Consulting; UK leadership development firm Penna; industry bodies such as CIPD and CRF; and executive coaches.

The coaching-led approach was designed to ensure that increased performance levels were delivered and sustained.  The coaching philosophy has helped to embed the new Integrated Framework, known internally as “Blue 4” behaviour. This is now embedded into the organisation, measuring behaviours, climate and performance into the business and has ensured that performance is seen as behaviour, not a task. Coaching is considered as a key development tool and all of the 45 members of the executive leadership team (ELT) and senior leadership team (SLT) have received coaching since 2013.

Beverley Grant PCC, who nominated ENWL for the award, said, “Rarely in my experience as a coach, have I seen such a high level of commitment from a senior leadership team to use coaching and action learning to help drive improved business performance. This commitment ensured that senior managers were present to support with goal setting; coaching was prioritised in diaries and the coachees involved really wanted to learn and take action.   I felt I was part of a coaching team that was making a real difference.”

By June 2016, 18% of the 1,600-strong workforce had undertaken coaching programmes using external coaches.  The number of employees being coached will continue to increase as the 285-strong wider leadership team cascade their coaching skills and coaching behaviours throughout the organisation.  This will be further supported by plans in 2016/17 to develop and train internal coaches.

Focus areas for coaching across the leadership population have included:

  • Leadership skills required to lead the transformational change programmes
  • Leadership development:  executive impact, personal brand, strategic versus operational leadership, decision making capabilities, communication/feedback skills and employee engagement
  • On-boarding coaching for newly promoted executive leaders
  • High potential coaching for a number of female leaders
  • Coaching for team and group effectiveness using Action Learning Sets that encompassed peer to peer coaching, problem solving and feedback.

ENWL’s lead coach, Sara Barrie ACC, says, “It was a privilege to lead a coaching programme of such a professional standard. The company had a very clear vision that aligned talent and organisational strategy and each of us in the external coaching team were clear on our roles and responsibilities.  It gave me great pleasure to see the personal success of the coachees as they gained confidence, increased their self-belief and demonstrated clear and compelling Blue 4 leadership in the new organisation.”

Sweeney attributed the success of the programme to:

  • The shared belief across the leadership team that organisational climate is a critical success factor in enhancing business performance through influencing employee behaviour
  • Combining internal expertise with external experts to embrace new and diverse thinking whilst embedding world class practices
  • Introducing a simple and highly effective leadership and behaviour model known internally as “Blue 4” behaviour (Glowinkowski International)
  • Delivering greater clarity of purpose with localised ownership driving responsibility, productivity and communication.

The results have been impressive evidenced by both quantitative and qualitative feedback since the outset of the programme in 2013.  The critical performance measures have increased significantly including:

  • Climate (engagement) scores increasing two-fold to 76% – a world class climate score
  • Leadership scores improving by 75%
  • Across the board increases in already strong Customer Service scores

CEO Steve Johnson, awarded MBE summer of 2016, proudly reflected on the significant contribution this coaching-led approach has made to the business performance, prior to his handover to the current CEO Peter Emery:  “Investing in the coaching and development of our senior leaders has proven to be an essential ingredient in the successful development and transformation of this business”. Emery is committed to ensuring the company continues to invest in this coaching-led approach.


The 2016 PRISM Judges

Thank you to our 2016 Prism Judges who were:

Sue Cruse, Executive Coach – Glaxo Smith Kline

Sue Mortlock, Leadership Coach & OD Consultant – Moretounlock

Jane Saunders – Consultant

Maria Symeon, Global Coach Leader – Price Waterhouse Cooper


See here for background information on Prism Awards from around the world. To express an interest or if you have any questions email the UK ICF on or Download Sample UK ICF Prism Award document for coaches 2017