Leadership Development Case Study – Cigna

Leadership development case study - cigna

Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious at the center of Cigna’s New Leadership Model

The Challenge

Cigna is a global health company dedicated to providing health care services and solutions. With 74,000 employees and 2019 revenues of $153B, their mission is to improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those they serve.

As with most companies today, Cigna has gone through tremendous change, even before the pandemic began and before their merger with Express Scripts in 2018. After the merger during 2019, their highly engaged and committed workforce was intact, but their leaders knew they needed to rethink their business models and the leadership capabilities required to sustain the company’s success.

Cigna knew they needed:

  • leaders who are agile in the face of change – Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious leaders – to navigate and lead the organization
  • to make change agility a core Cigna capability
  • to advance a ‘Whole Person Health Strategy’ for its 8000 leaders to achieve better health, greater resiliency, and higher productivity. 

Cigna was looking for a partner to help develop these leadership capabilities to fulfill the company’s mission. Out of 21 potential vendors, Cigna invited 3 companies in to present their approach, offerings, and resources to achieve these goals. The directors of change management, learning, leadership, and organization development met with a smaller group of potential partners. They ended up choosing The Healthy Leader as their long-term partner.  

Cigna’s leadership efforts have historically focused on leadership competencies alone – actions and behaviors. The Company believed there was a missing link in their leadership model – and the Healthy Companies’ Grounded and Conscious capabilities filled this void. 

The Solution

The Healthy Leader has collaborated with the Cigna team to provide more than a “programmatic” experience. Cigna’s vision is an ecosystem approach that offers leaders the opportunities to engage with Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious content, experiences, and practical application.  

Bob Rosen, CEO of The Healthy Leader presented both Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious models to the top 550 leaders at a recent strategy meeting. They were provided with a Healthy Leader toolkit to conduct conversations with their colleagues, linking the company’s new leadership model to the strategy of the Company.  

In September, Cigna rolled out the first of a series of Virtual Instructor-led Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious sessions as part of their new Leading With Excellence program for leaders across the company. In using the VILT approach they are able to deliver a high impact leadership experience in partnership with The Healthy Leader within the constraints of COVID and social distancing. 

As the leadership competencies program gets integrated into the company, Cigna will tailor different solutions, in different formats, including online, digital learning modules created In partnership with award winning eLearning designers AllenComm, for different populations to maximize impact and drive sustainable behavior change at all levels.


The program was in pilot and MVP stages in 2020. Plans for a more elaborate metrics program are being designed to measure the full impact of this program.

Over 100 leaders participated in the Healthy & Grounded and Healthy & Conscious Essentials program in 2020. Evaluation surveys are based on a 10-point scale: quality of content (9.41); recommend continued investment in program (9.45); improved commitment to the company (9.05); better leader as a result of the experience (9.05).

Survey comments included the following:

  • “I’ve been at Cigna for 20 years and have been through numerous management/leadership trainings. This by far is the most encouraging and hope this reflects Cigna’s direction.”
  • “The course was fantastic and I’m hopeful this will continue to be rolled out across the company.”
  • “The experience was most valuable because not only did it focus on improving my leadership skills, but it also helped me on a personal level.”
  • “I am a new people leader and can utilize a lot of the tools that were discussed to be a more effective leader.”

Plans for 2021/22 will include pre and post assessment data gathered through surveys inside and outside the actual experience. Other metrics could include: absenteeism and health and disability costs; engagement and talent retention scores; stress, burnout and health indices; manager ratings of employee performance; creativity and innovation; client/customer ratings; and execution and performance metrics. 


“The Healthy Leader’s approach to change leadership and change agility was different from the other vendors. It was clear our philosophies were aligned – at the core of Cigna’s success is our ‘Whole Person Health’ strategy, inside and outside the company. Health must be our organizing theme for developing healthy leaders, people and teams.”

Hollie Ward, Vice President, Learning and Development, Cigna