Case Study: Effective Leadership at Enterprise Rent-A-Car

This project involved identifying what great leadership looks like in Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and then creating the tools and support to enable everyone in the organisation to be a great leader — whether they are leading themselves, leading others or leading through others. Our work with Enterprise is a great example of how ‘great leadership’ behaviours, more consistently demonstrated across the business, can create the desired culture change necessary to enable even better business performance.

The goal

The goal of this project was to improve leadership skills from entry level upwards.  Its focus:

  • To create a consistent approach to promoting managers
  • To understand and be able to articulate what ‘great’ looks like in roles, and be able to select people on this basis
  • To give employees a clear view on what they need to do to achieve these manager levels and provide support to help them get there
  • To provide more of a focus on developing people and, in particular, improve self-awareness and big-picture awareness
  • To create a cadre of leaders prepared in advance of promotion and ready to step into their next role

What we did

Our approach to projects of this nature is to invest time at the beginning to engage the people who will ultimately make the project a success, and to ensure we have the right people involved.  We worked with a steering group that represented all business groups within Enterprise, as well as with HR and the talent development team.  The process was extremely consultative to ensure that the language and culture were correctly reflected and that the business totally ‘bought-in’ to the resulting outputs.

We used a blended approach of well proven behaviourial models and our own knowledge of strengths, to identify what makes a great Enterprise performer, in a way that was qualitative (i.e. we know what it looks like in practice) and quantitative (i.e. we see it repeated, and there’s a tangible link to improved performance).

To create the role profiles and leadership framework:

  • We focused on the strategic objectives of the organisation and looked at how existing great performers contribute to achieving strategic goals. We translated this into role profiles and a leadership framework
  • We looked at where gaps existed in both performance and process, and worked closely with the steering group and HR team to create development interventions and process improvement
  • The senior leadership team experienced a development centre and 360 feedback, so that they themselves understood the benefits the programme delivered. This ensured that they supported managers to participate in the programme and could start to create a coaching culture from the top down
  • We created a coaching video to help train those involved in delivering the development centres and to enhance career conversations more widely
Image of Enterprise Leadership Framework included with kind permission of Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Image of Enterprise Leadership Framework included with kind permission of Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Key project outputs

A holistic leadership programme which was 100% linked to other relevant Enterprise processes such as employee reviews.  These include:

Leadership role profiles

To articulate what ‘great performers’ look like for the three roles

A competency framework

To create granularity on what is expected at each level of leadership, and examples of what that looks like in practice

Two development centres for junior and mid-level roles

These take into account Enterprise’s competency framework and all the training and development that has gone into it. The assessment activities  mirror the type of challenges that will be encountered on a day-to-day basis, and test the exceptional qualities that are required to be a top performer at the various levels.

This is not a process to identify high potentials. It is an all-encompassing process designed to:

  • Identify great performers who are ready for promotion
  • Identify those that need further development before they are promoted
  • Build self-awareness and understanding of what they like doing to feed into their career management process
  • Create development plans on an individual basis


The focus was to develop a coaching culture as an output of the leadership programme and its interventions.  Knowing when to be directive and when to coach an individual to help them derive the answer is a key leadership skill. Built into the delivery of this programme is on-going training on how to coach, supported by a great video which is available to all at any time to help them refresh their technique.

Development/training needs

The tools developed to support on-going development and training needs identified through the development centres include a 360 feedback tool, a development guide and an online portal full of suggestions of further reading.

The difference we made

At an organisational level

  • Improved engagement scores. People report that they feel more valued as a result of positive development and coaching support, and have better awareness of what is required of them and how to achieve it
  • An improved number of people promoted at their first attempt, which has reduced the number of open roles going unfilled
  • Improved diversity with an increased number of female candidates applying for promotion, post development centre, and being successful
  • A successful, gradual but definite, shift to a coaching culture that complements existing strong sales and customer service skills.  Senior managers are really seeing and understanding the benefit of the coaching, rather than just ‘telling’ employees what to do
  • A targeted, consistent and fair promotion process

At an individual level

  • Clearer career options have helped people make bolder career moves – armed with a better understanding of what’s next. Some participants have made important decisions to change job roles
  • Confidence building – individuals can see a clearer career path and have felt more supported to get to the next level
  • Networking – some outputs from the project, such as development centres, have helped individuals improve their personal networks, best-practice sharing and peer learning

“talentsmoothie… real culture change

Talentsmoothie have previously helped us with our graduate attraction strategy, and we continue to work with them because they consistently deliver. Whatever the challenge, they ask the tough questions needed to really get to know an organisation inside and out. No ‘cookie cutter’ processes here nor ‘one size fits all’ – they get the results we need. From this latest Leadership Effectiveness project we’ve seen improvements in engagement scores, and more successful, diverse and fair promotions, but, we are also excited to be experiencing real culture change, which was what we wanted. Our senior managers are on fully on board. They have ‘bought into’ and understand the value of the coaching culture we’ve introduced, and so we know the improvements are sustainable in the longer term. And it’s not only about the results… it’s about the nature of the working relationship too; talentsmoothie, with Justine at the helm, are a delight to work with, and I am happy to recommend them.
Donna Miller — European HR Director, Enterprise Holdings

If you found this Great Leadership case study of interest and would like to know more about our work in Enterprise Rent-A-Car or discuss how a similar project might work for your organisation, call Justine James on +44 (0)7710 778961 or email her at

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