Cultivating Leadership in a Real Estate Development Firm


This case study highlights the transformative journey of ABC Properties, a real estate development firm facing an ownership change, a CEO transition, and the pandemic. The engagement with The Sparks Group provided crucial support and guidance during this critical phase. Overall, the partnership with The Sparks Group contributed to ABC Properties’ successful transition and ongoing growth, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development throughout the organization.


The real estate development firm in focus, referred to as ABC Properties, was an established player in the industry, specializing in multifamily and commercial/industrial property development. With a history spanning decades, the company built a strong reputation for delivering highquality projects. However, the firm was at an inflection point, with an imminent change in ownership and the CEO nearing retirement. Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted markets and forced them to reconsider their strategy.

Engagement Overview

Recognizing the need for support around the transition to new ownership, ABC Properties sought external assistance to navigate these changes successfully. They engaged The Sparks Group to provide guidance and support during this critical phase. We conducted a series of discovery interviews with key stakeholders and ran a one-day workshop for the senior team to delve into the implications of the ownership change, the spinning off a division, and the change management needed to support these transitions for the firm’s employees. These sessions were designed to foster open dialogue and enable the leadership team to envision the company’s future under the new ownership structure.

Enterprise Focus and Succession Planning

During the workshop, it became evident that one member of the leadership team, John*, required additional support to develop an enterprise focus and prepare for potential succession to the CEO role. Recognizing this need, we initiated a 1:1 executive coaching program for this leader, which included the Maturity Assessment Profile and Leadership Circle Profile 360 assessments. These assessments provided valuable insights into John’s leadership strengths and areas for development, helping him gain clarity on the development he needed to be successful in the CEO role, which he later took on.

Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives

As our relationship with ABC Properties grew, they requested we conduct focus groups specifically with the firm’s female employees. The objective was to understand their experiences, challenges, and perspectives within the organization. Based on the feedback gathered, we made tailored recommendations to ABC Properties on how they could create a more welcoming and inclusive environment. These recommendations encompassed initiatives such as diversity training, mentorship programs, and improved communication around career progression and educational opportunities.

“We have had a broad and deep relationship with The Sparks Group from executive coaching, to focus groups, leadership offsites, 360 and other assessments, workshops, and so on. They were also a key support in my own ascension to the CEO role. The wide variety of TSG practitioners we have partnered with share deep expertise and years of experience. We continue to reap the benefits of
the partnership and look forward to doing so for the long term.”

– CEO, ABC Properties

Leadership Offsite Facilitation

To reinforce alignment and facilitate strategic planning, our team supported ABC Properties in organizing a leadership offsite for the extended leadership team. This offsite allowed the senior team to collectively work on and align around some best practices in people leadership. We facilitated discussions, encouraged collaboration, and ensured that all participants felt heard and valued. They also had fun!

Organization-wide Coaching

In addition to our work with John, we provided coaching services to numerous members of the organization, ranging from top executives to front-line employees. This coaching aimed to enhance their leadership skills and capacity, promote resilience in the face of complexity, and equip them with the tools necessary to exceed their targets.

Results and Impact

The engagement with ABC Properties led to several positive outcomes. The company gained increased clarity and alignment regarding their strategic direction and how to thrive under the new ownership structure. John made a successful transition to the CEO role and has continued to lead the firm to achieve exceptional results. The leadership team and many other team members developed new skills and a heightened capacity to navigate complexity, leading to remarkable results that surpassed their initial targets. Moreover, the focus on inclusion and diversity initiatives enhanced the company’s reputation as an employer of choice, attracting and retaining top talent.