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How JLL Retooled Leadership Development to Accelerate Digital Drive

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. Our vision is to reimagine the world of real estate, creating rewarding opportunities and amazing spaces where people can achieve their ambitions. In doing so, we will build a better tomorrow for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of 88,000 as of September 30, 2018. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit 

Part of being an employer of choice is ensuring we have best-in-class development for our employees. Last year alone we were honored and acknowledged  for our training and development programs in quality (ISO 9001) and excellence (Training magazine’s 2018 TrainingTop 125). We have over 4,000 learning modules, including live and e-learning sessions for audiences ranging from entry-level professionals to executive leadership. At JLL, we believe that  a tiered approach to learning enables our people to advance in the organization at their own pace. We’re especially proud of the industry-accredited certification programs our designers have developed specifically for our teams. Intellectual curiosity is part of our DNA and reflected in the lifetime learning aspect of our culture. It permeates every aspect of our business and is nearly tangible in our offices. Our global team of training professionals is passionate about surpassing expectations and breaking boundaries. We’re humbled to be considered an employer of choice and we cherish our role in helping people achieve ambitions.  

Jones Lang Lasalle was selected as an i4cp Next Practice Award for this case study. Adam Massman & Angela Geffre accepted the award on stage at the i4cp 2019 Next Practices Now Conference. 

Business Challenge

When Chritian Ulbrich, JLL’s global CEO, began to emphasize our “relentless ambition to be the leader in the technology space in our industry,” we knew we had to retool our leadership development programming to capture this. Our historical leadership programs and competency models did not reflect this  priority, and in many cases, the business created its own models and programs to respond and adapt to changes in the market.  

To develop a “digital drive” among JLL leaders, we knew we needed a more holistic, end-to-end competency model and methodology aligned to JLL’s future-focused business strategy.  


To transform the company’s approach to talent management, leadership assessment, and leadership development, our talent team interviewed and surveyed over 300 leaders to synthesize a list of leadership capabilities that would align to the business strategy, with a focus on driving change and thinking big. The resulting capabilities became the foundation for everything in the employee life cycle: hiring, developing, engaging and managing performance.  

To ensure that our leaders could develop these new capabilities, JLL invested in a massive overhaul of its end-to-end leadership development program, and called the new approach Real Leadership. Real Leadership’s focus was to develop leaders not only for today’s challenges in real estate but for the business challenges of the future. This overarching leadership development platform had multiple pillars to ensure its success:  

  • Built on the business strategy. Each program chosen was directly tied to growing the business strategy and each leader’s ability to drive that strategy forward.  
  • Designed with each level of leadership in mind. JLL’s Talent team purposefully chose to create four tiers of leadership development to address the unique challenges each manager encounters:  
    • Leading Self (professionals who do not manage others)
    • Leading Others (managers of others)
    • Leading Leaders (managers who manage other managers)
    • Leading Organizations (executive level)  
  • Grounded in digital learning enhancements. Each program was meant to be consumed in digitally enhanced modern ways. The objective was to have each learner feel that the experience was unique and engaging.  
  • Driven in simplicity. The Talent team sought to simplify thinking about leadership development across the firm. With nearly 16,000 different ways to train leaders in 2017—and given that employees had difficulty finding training content needed for their development—the team worked to create a much simpler platform to drive leadership development.  

Following are two of the four most popular development tracks:  

Leading Others

JLL’s frontline manager development program had been in use for many years. It needed a complete overhaul to ensure the curricula met emerging business needs: 

  • Increased collaboration between managers in different silos across the business
  • Expanded alignment of managers to new leadership expectations
  • Better manager understanding of the value of inclusion and diversity in driving innovative thinking
  • Greater ability to learn from business leaders and each other 

The Leading Others program is a six-module, virtual, instructor-led course incorporating a number of innovative characteristics:  

  • Video-based: Instructors and employees use webcams to engage learners in new ways of thinking about concepts.
  • Crosses business units: Managers can interact and meet others—and develop new relationships to help the business innovate across functions and geographies.
  • Business leaders teach: High-potential managers are invited to share their best practices.
  • Bite-sized learning: Short videos from JLL’s executive teams and pre-reads are used to engage participants.
  • Managers teach, too: A manager teach-back moment is included to ensure participants share what they learn.  

Leading Leaders Program

Leading Leaders is a two-month program that addresses a unique leadership challenge based on JLL’s defined leadership capabilities. Leaders take a 360-degree assessment based on the capability model and work through a specific business challenge to answer the question, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?  JLL’s senior executives engage directly with participants to mentor and share their best practices to propel their careers further.  

To tie all leadership development programs together, we created a microsite ( for people  to conveniently access and use the resources.                                 

A screenshot of a personDescription generated with very high confidence

Preview of Leadership microsite

Tiered leadership development program icons


Since launch, more than 6,000 people have participated in the redesigned development programs and consistently rated the sessions between 4.5 to 4.8 (on a scale of 5). Participants rave about the content and facilitation, and demand is off-the-charts. Most modules have months-long waiting lists.

The programs have elicited excitement and energy from company leaders, and more importantly, they’ve had a positive impact on the business. Program participants are growing more inclusive teams; in turn, driving more innovative ideas, increasing retention on those teams and helping clients achieve their goals and aspirations.

Quantifiable results include the following:  

  • 87% retention of direct reports for managers who participate in the development programming.
  • 11% of managers who have participated in a program received a subsequent promotion (compared with 6% who did not).
  • 10% increase in diversity in teams led by managers who participated in the program (versus teams led by non-participating managers). 

Qualitative results have been great, too, and include these employee testimonials:  

  • “The best manager program JLL has ever seen.”
  • “Real Leadership pushes you to take a deep look at your leadership profile and motivates you to want to be a better leader at JLL.”
  • “Incredibly eye opening experience about how my core values can help me move my team forward to meet both our shared goals and their individual goals.”  


Real Leadership has been one of the critical success drivers at JLL in 2018. The Talent team continues to find ways to embed and adopt this program across this business. Unrelated to business outcomes, the team also saw a dramatic reduction in external costs associated with leadership development, along with the demise of thousands of learning assets no longer needed with this robust development programming in place. Less than one year into the program, the team is thrilled with its outcomes. In 2019, expansion of program offerings will continue, along with efforts to drive further adoption and make improvements based on participant feedback.

This submission was co-authored by Adam Massman, VP and director of learning and development at Jones Lang Lasalle.