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Developing Leaders @ Havas Health & You: From Introspection to Inspiration


As one of the world’s largest global communications groups, Havas Health & You is responsible for producing advertising campaigns that help their clients garner incredible brand recognition. If you’ve ever seen Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World,” TJX’s “Bring Back the Holidays Campaign,” or the Viberzi IBS-D character, you’ve gotten a glimpse into the creative genius that is Havas Health & You.

It is this genius and creativity that Havas Health & You offers to its clients, the intellectual capital present in the incredible work done by Havas Health & You employees. And so it stands to reason that making sure Havas Health & You employees are motivated and thriving at work is critical to the organization’s—and their clients’—success.

Create an environment in which leaders would “pay forward” what they learned in supporting future talent.


The group’s newly expanded and branded Havas Health & You talent management team recognized that supporting its employees, particularly those in influential leadership roles, was an important area of focus. For this reason, Havas Health & You, in partnership with GP Strategies®, established the Developing Leaders (DL) Program—a high-potential leadership development program aimed at supporting its up-and-coming executives.

  • The program goals included:
  • Enhance leadership skills of program participants.
  • Establish a network of supportive relationships.
  • Provide greater exposure and connections at the Havas Health & You executive level.
  • Create an environment in which Havas Health & You leaders would “pay forward” what they learned in supporting future Havas Health & You talent.


Havas Health & You is set up as a collection of internal agencies, and the strategy of the DL Program is to ensure that program representatives were identified across the organization. The first step in identifying high-potentials was to conduct a one-to-one discussion between the chief learning officer, HR leads, and the managing directors of each agency. This discussion was meant to ensure Learning & Development and agency heads were in agreement with respect to the talent in the organization. Managing directors were asked to consider their staff and then submit three to five names of individuals, including their reasons for nomination, strengths, and development opportunities. Ultimately, not all individuals submitted to the program were accepted with the final decision resting with the Learning & Development program sponsors.

While each Havas Health & You DL is encouraged to establish his or her own path and style of leadership, it was important that individuals be given a sense for the program evolution and structure, along with a vision of what Havas Health & You wants in a leader. In light of this, the program was sub-branded with the tagline “Becoming a Better Leader Through Introspection to Inspiration.” The point behind this branding was to emphasize the intended leadership journey that first encouraged individuals to reflect on who they are as a person. Emotional intelligence and peer feedback was an important part of this initial phase.

As the program progressed, an outward view was encouraged so that leaders would begin looking at what others needed from them. Finally, as a way to combine both of these perspectives, the program emphasized the importance of authentic leadership— bringing more of your true self to your leadership style and then communicating it to others in a way that is inspirational.

To enhance leadership skills of program participants and to establish a network of supportive relationships at work, the program was designed to include several elements:

  • Emotional intelligence and peer feedback during the initial phase
  • One-to-one executive coaching
  • Mentorship with a Havas Health & You executive
  • Leadership development workshops
  • Coaching circles
  • Leadership assessments
  • Active program management
  • Senior leader support


The DL Program was initiated in 2015 and has grown in size and scope with each subsequent year. It has received meaningful, positive feedback and resulted in an increase in the leadership scores of its participants. DL Program participants not only enjoyed their participation in the program, they also indicated that the program had a significant impact on their leadership skills and confidence. Of post-program survey respondents:

  • 88% feel their leadership skills improved as a result of participating in the program
  • 87% indicated that their team members have noticed a change in their leadership style
  • 100% agree that their confidence as a leader improved
  • 100% felt as though the program was a valuable investment Havas Health & You and GP Strategies continue to refine the program based on graduate feedback and are readying another group of leaders to begin the program and embark on their own leadership journey.

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