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The Facilitation Impact Awards (FIA) honours organisations that have used facilitation to achieve a measurable and positive impact as well as the facilitator(s) who worked with them. More about FIA
Platinum award
Vancouver, Canada

Mitacs Leadership Retreat: Focus on leadership development


Key impacts included a leaders’ values statement, core leadership competencies and definitions for every level of leadership, and a leadership framework that included a learning philosophy, principles and approach. Two core quantitative measures included:

  • an increase of the engagement level at the management levels from 70th percentile to 80th percentile and 88th percentile between 2016 and 2018, respectively.
  • team engagement during same period trended high from 86th percentile to 90th percentile and 86th percentile.

All leaders from frontline to the CEO were in scope for this session. This included the executive team, the senior leadership team, and the operational managers—31 participants in total, which is around 15% of the total employee population. Participants also included human resources and marketing-communications representatives.

Context and challenges

Due to exponential growth, new leaders and the remote nature of Mitacs, the organisation was challenged to create and implement a leadership model. A collective view of leadership in terms of values, communications, expectations of one another, and competencies and behaviours had not yet been fully landed. Employee survey feedback also indicated that leadership communications was not as effective as it could be. And lastly, an ambitious strategy—"The Road to 10,000”—set in 2016, could only be attained with high-performing leaders at all levels.

Project objectives

The key purpose of the facilitated session was to attain collective agreement on a leadership model at Mitacs and identify a set of high-level competencies applicable to all levels of leaders. The desire for meaningful leadership development was directly related to Mitacs’s ambitious organisational strategy for which key objectives included demonstrating excellence in organisational management and performance, promoting a culture of innovation and collaboration and living the Mitacs values. Leaders have significant impact on these objectives.


A one-day, co-facilitated session with leaders as part of their three-day retreat. The decision was made to use external facilitation to ensure equal participation and to ensure HR was not perceived as unduly influencing the work.