February 20, 2008

News & Opinion: Excerpt from Leadership Brand - 2 of 2

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 1:53 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

The following is the second of two excerpts from the book Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.
Leadership Brand details the authors' six-step process to leadership brand--"a shared identity among your organization's leaders that differentiates what they can do from what your rivals' leaders can do." This second excerpt focuses on the process of training.
You can read the first excerpt here.

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Process. How to make sure the training experience delivers what you intend. A number of process choices are required to make sure that the training experience furthers a leadership brand.
  • Faculty. Faculty should embody the brand they are communicating. One executive dictated that his direct reports all engage others in their organization and share decision making with them -- even though that was just one of many arbitrary demands that he made in the absence of any shared decision making on his part. His hypocrisy in demanding that others be participative led to cynicism. Those who address leaders in training sessions should embody and live the message they are communicating. With this generic caveat, four categories of faculty can be enlisted to help make the most of training: inside experts, outside experts, line managers, and external stakeholders (customers or investors, or both).

  • Inside experts. Training departments often have people who prepare and deliver excellent training modules. These individuals need to be credible both for how they present and for what they have done earlier in their careers. It is especially useful to present internal instructors who have had experience in line management positions where they were successful, and who can focus on technical areas in which they have deep expertise. They may also be certified in the program at hand (such as Six Sigma black belts) and thus able to help others become certified. Often, as internal experts move into an instructional mode, they receive coaching in presentation skills to increase their impact on an audience. They know the company and culture and they can talk with confidence and experience about how to turn ideas into action in the trainees' own environment.

  • Outside experts. External instructors bring new ideas and knowledge. They transmit practices that have worked in other settings . However, to make knowledge productive, they should also know enough about the immediate business to see how their knowledge will help further the firm leadership brand. They should adapt their ideas to the specific requirements of the organization. They can be paired with internal managers and instructors so that their ideas will have maximum impact.

  • Line Managers. In recent years, line managers have been increasingly used to design and deliver training. One colleague responsible for developing leadership told us that the best thing he could do was to have the senior leaders of the company train other leaders, if only because that forced those doing the training to model the behavior they advocate and teach. EDA found that 75 percent of leading companies used senior executives as presenters for at least part of the training. PepsiCo has been one of the leaders in this area. Its senior leaders do many things to make the training relevant to PepsiCo's situation, including individual coaching of future leaders. This mentoring role goes beyond the confines of the classroom to being accessible to learning leaders once they return to their day-to-day work. They focus their instruction on how to make things happen -- for real, at PepsiCo -- through leadership action. They have informal conversations over meals or in the evening where they communicate PepsiCo values through stories. They share their own personal journey of leadership at the company and encourage learning leaders to craft their own. They work to be consistent in their day-to-day leadership with what they are teaching future leaders to do. All these ideas help participants in a training experience learn the leadership brand by observing it firsthand. Depending too much on line managers has the limitations of not sourcing ideas from outside the company and becoming insular, training future leaders on what present leaders have done without focusing on what could be, and not having quite as innovative a pedagogy or teaching style (line managers are expected to be gifted teachers).

  • Customers or investors. For an organization to shift leader training to building leadership brand, it is critical to involve outside stakeholders in the design, delivery, or presentation of the training experience. Customers and investors may participate in each of these steps through their presence (bringing them into the room in person or on video) or their essence (making sure that their concerns are being addressed). Customers can be present at instructional design meetings and voice opinions about what should be taught, or the design team can research customer expectations and make sure that they are infused throughout the design. Customers and investors can help deliver a program as expert faculty, participants in a live case study focused on their own needs, or members of a panel sharing their encounters with the company. Customers can also join a program as participants, working to make sure that their expectations (which are at the heart of firm brand) are understood and translated into action through leadership investments while they also derive the personal benefits of the program itself. Including customers and/or investors in training experiences increases the likelihood that participants will be more than tourists, will not only understand what their leadership brand needs to be but find ways to actually do it.

When the four faculty groups form an integrated team, the training will have innovative content (led by outside experts), adapted to the organization (led by internal experts), with relevance to the organization's success (because of customer or investor participation, or both), and with accountability for its application (because of line manager participation).
Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Press. Excerpted from Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value. Copyright 2007 Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.