Case study

Wildlife Conservation Society

Leader Development Journey


*Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher*

Facing rising threats to wild species and habitats, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) experienced a surge of support for and investment in its people and mission. To equip its more than 4,000 scientists and staff based in over 50 countries for the unique challenges that WCS leaders face in the field, WCS sought to develop its talent. Thus, WCS selected BTS to create an engaging learning journey, both customized to fit its leaders’ specific needs and aligned to the organization’s mission to “save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education and inspiring people to value nature.

The resulting learning journey, Amplify, helped scientists and conservationists scale their leadership impact. Through the six-month leadership journey, WCS identified two primary learning objectives: 1) leaders were clear about what is expected of them and how to lead in specific leadership moments, 2) leaders developed more effective mindsets, skills and behaviors described by the WCS’s new Leadership Principles.

To develop WCS’s Leadership Principles, BTS conducted interviews across the organization to ensure that the language and context of the principles were customized to the unique experiences of WCS’s leaders. This research resulted in seven Leadership Principles, including Collaborate with Curiosity, Connect with Purpose and Foster inclusion, which serve as the red thread connecting every aspect of the learning journey.

The goal of Amplify was to ignite a shift towards more people-focused leadership, transforming the way they inspired, motivated, supported, and enabled their people to achieve an even greater impact in saving wildlife and wild places. The program combines in-person workshops with virtual small-group discussions to create greater levels of self-awareness, intentionality, peer accountability, and support. Throughout the journey, participants wrestle with realistic leadership scenarios that have practical application.

Amplify is viewed by WCS Executive Leadership as an important enabler to scale the capacity of hundreds of WCS leaders around the world as they continue to strengthen their impact to educate and save critical wildlife species and habitats under threat by climate change, poaching, rural and urban development and even war. The initial cohorts of Amplify focused on regional, country and park directors of large conservation programs that protect endangered species and habitats. Moving forward, BTS will support the delivery of Amplify to additional senior leadership audiences throughout WCS.

BTS was able to offer WCS as a mission-driven not-for-profit (NFP), the option of coaching pods via BTS Spark, our social impact arm, that provides leadership coaching to the education and NFP sectors at NFP pricing. This hybrid BTS & BTS Spark style contract can be a model moving forward to support NFPs and maximize our impact.

Looking ahead into 2024 and beyond, BTS is committed to extending the reach of Amplify to encompass a broader spectrum of senior leadership within WCS. The effectiveness of this endeavor will be measured, in part, by the level of engagement reported by participants and employees, alongside assessments of enhanced leadership capabilities across the organization.

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