ashurst-400x400 Ashurst


Case Study


Ashurst is a leading multinational law firm and a trusted adviser to corporates, financial institutions and governments worldwide. They have a vision to be the most progressive global law firm and understand that “progressive” is a mindset, an approach to how things are done.


Ross McClymont, Managing Partner for the Ashurst Melbourne Office, engaged The Leadership Sphere to deliver a corporate leadership development program to help create a fresh perspective on their leadership strategy and to explore better ways of delivering practical, commercial solutions to the challenges their local clients were facing. Whilst challenging the status quo it was important that actions from the leadership program were aligned with the firm’s global and national way of doing things.


Establish a fresh strategy and approach

As one of the most highly regarded legal practices in Melbourne, the group of more than 30 partners involved in the leadership program were already well established and successful within their areas of practice. However, there was a consensus that the partners had to get together and understand where the business was at and establish a fresh strategy, along with an action plan that each partner could relate to and be committed to delivering on, when they left the room.

“There was a consensus that everyone had to get together and understand where the business was at and establish a fresh strategy, along with an action plan that each partner could relate to.”

Connect partners to the strategy

There was awareness that a big part of connecting the partners to the strategy was having a facilitator that was able to establish credibility and challenge the group within a safe environment. The Leadership Sphere were the partner of choice for the leadership development program. They were assessed as easy to deal with, likeable and very quickly built trust with the team. There was a lot of time and effort taken prior to the initial leadership workshop to get to know the partner group and what they were looking to achieve.

“The Leadership Sphere had been referred to us as a highly reputable group to work with. We knew that engaging an external provider was all about choosing somebody with credibility, experience and who could relate to our business”.

Deliver an action plan

Taking 30 plus partners away from their day to day work activities was a significant investment for the group. Therefore, it was critical that at the end of the leadership workshops there was a clearly defined action plan and that each of the partners was committed to implementing it.


Build trust

Ross McClymont explained how The Leadership Sphere were able to take everyone on a journey by using plain language and practical examples that were relatable to the group.

“At no point did The Leadership Sphere lose the audience. They were able to establish their credibility early on, and applied their experience in a way that resonated with the partners. As a group we were able to recognise where we were strong and challenge those areas that needed improvement. The use of plain language, practical examples and identifying realistic actions is where The Leadership Sphere excelled most.”

The feedback from partners was that The Leadership Sphere facilitators were highly credible, bringing relevant, practical examples, combined with meaningful actions that were committed to by the partners involved.

Seek alignment with strategy

As the managing partner and sponsor of the Ashurst leadership development program, Ross McClymont was keen to establish a shared vision. He also wanted to tie in the actions with the strategic plan and key business metrics for the Melbourne Office. The Leadership Sphere acted on this directive by building in discussions throughout the leadership workshop that were tied into key strategic imperatives. These discussions provided a way for each partner to voice their opinion on what was working and where there was upside. The use of practical examples that were relatable to the group, meant that alignment with strategy was easily and effectively obtained.”

“The discussions that were had during the leadership workshops hit some of the key strategic imperatives.”

Get buy in from partners

It was known before the leadership workshops commenced that tangible action was critical, and that immediate action would have to take place beyond what happened in the training room. As The Leadership Sphere navigated through the discussions of the leadership workshop there were 12 actions that were identified. Some actions were straight forward and seemingly easy to achieve, whilst others were much bigger and more challenging. All were tied in with the overall business strategy. There was an underlying confidence amongst the partners that if these action items were achieved, that it would have a great impact on our overall business objectives. For that reason, everything that was discussed and agreed to, very quickly became real.

“It was a significant moment for the group when at the end of the program, each partner was able to stand and articulate their personal commitments aligned to the overall action plan for the group in about 30 seconds each. There was something about the energy in the room and the focus and shared vision that really shone through. It was at this point that we knew we had nailed the brief.”


When The Leadership Sphere came back several months later, nine out of 12 of the actions had been achieved. The remaining three were in progress and on track for completion. Now a couple of years on from the initial leadership development workshops the Melbourne Office is ranked in the top percentile of all business units within Ashurst globally, with all key metrics including customer value, revenue and profitability targets being met or exceeded. Ross McClymont mentioned that this was a really good story and one which has been underpinned by a leadership group that has taken personal responsibility for the direction of the Melbourne Office.

“While we cannot attribute the success we have achieved to one program or strategy, we know that the leadership development program was a key part of setting the overall direction. It brought us together as a group and provided us with a framework under which we could grow as individuals and take personal responsibility for the success that we have achieved as a group in the past few years.”

Align the goals of the Melbourne Office with the global and national strategy

Being a part of a large global group meant that the Melbourne Office needed to align their goals with the overarching strategy at the global and national level. The leadership development program allowed everyone to get a better understanding of the role that each partner had to play to deliver the result. The leadership group was able to mature in its understanding and confidence of where the Melbourne Office fitted within the larger global group and the areas that could be focused on to have the most impact.

“As a group we matured in our understanding and confidence of where the Melbourne Office fitted within the global firm, and the areas that we could focus on to have the biggest impact.”

Maximise cross function support

One of the key areas of focus throughout the leadership training was on how partners could support each other across practices. Whilst this was already happening well, there were several identifiable actions that could increase communication and leverage subject matter experts within the different areas of practice. Ross McClymont referred to this outcome as one of the most important parts of the leadership development program. He went on to talk about the difference it has made to the way the office operates on a day to day basis, which has been significant.

“The actions identified for improving cross practice support, and the practical strategies that our partners walked away with have both had a significant impact on the way we operate today.”

Establish a playbook on how to deliver high levels of customer service and value creation

While the group involved in the leadership development program were already displaying excellent client service and value creation within their own areas of practice, it was found that bringing the group together to discuss in more detail how they could better help others, had a significant impact on business improvement. From the ideas shared as a group and the guidance provided by The Leadership Sphere, we were able to develop a playbook to guide us. This has helped set standards and drive consistency in the way we service our clients. It has also become an important part of our overall continuous improvement process and established a supportive and collaborative culture across the different practices of the Melbourne Office.

“From the ideas shared as a group and the guidance provided by The Leadership Sphere, we were able to develop a playbook to guide us.”

The Leadership Sphere

The Leadership Sphere is one of the most highly regarded leadership development partners for small and medium business and larger organisations in Australia. This includes leadership development programs, building high performing teams, executive coaching and other leadership tools and services. We are grateful of the opportunity to work with Ross McClymont, Office Managing Partner and the partners of the Ashurst Melbourne Office and for the commitment and actions taken by everyone involved in the program.

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