gold nugget

Knowledge Nuggets from the Executive Leadership Development Forum

Human capital professionals with a passion for executive leadership development recently gathered in Pittsburgh at i4cp’s Executive Leadership Development Forum. Attendees shared expertise, challenges, reflections and recommendations in a series of planned and open discussion sessions.

To kick off the Forum, i4cp presented findings from a recent study on global leadership development conducted in partnership with the American Management Association (AMA) and Training magazine. Extracts from that study have been published in i4cp’s new report, Next Practices for Global-Minded Organizations (non-members: download a free summary version).

Escalators and exits

Pat Nazemetz, former CHRO of Xerox and speaker at the i4cp 2014 Conference, discussed movement through an individual’s career journey and the importance of planning both growth (escalators) and departures (exits). Whether that departure is to follow a new path in one’s current organization or to leave the firm, it makes sense to think through how that departure should unfold in the most positive manner.

One helpful approach Pat suggested is to embark on a writing exercise: "Design your last day. How might your retirement or resignation letter read? What would the company’s departure announcement on you look like?"

How to make a leadership developmental assignment a successful experience

Jeff McHenry (former director of leadership development of Microsoft) presented on executive and leadership development in global assignments. He asked participants to think about how they approach the creation, monitoring, and management of developmental job experiences. "What discussions do you have? What collective decisions do you make?" The members of the forum shared what their organizations were doing to enhance developmental assignments for their leaders globally and domestically and/or what they have experienced personally.

How to successfully engage the boss in executive leadership development

Also presented by Jeff McHenry, this session explored lessons learned from 50 nominated bosses who were successful in acting as catalysts for leadership development among their protégés. He identified six key characteristics of strong developmental leadership.

  1. Provide opportunities for growth
  2. Provide exposure to senior executives, make connections, open doors
  3. Develop specific skills and fix flaws
  4. Inspire, raise the bar, demand excellence
  5. "Watch me, listen to me"
  6. Offer career advice & guidance

Interestingly, he shared that his experience and research found those leaders who seemed to naturally demonstrate all six of these characteristics began displaying these early in their careers...even early in their lives. It would seem that some leadership behaviors rise and are recognized early and frequently outside of work. Jeff's book, Using Experience to Develop Leaders, will be published in February 2014.

Culture change: Successfully managing C-suite transitions while rebuilding success

Ann Hackett, vice president of talent management at H&R Block, shared how the company rolled out a new strategy for shifting the culture of the firm. She credits this legacy and strong culture for sustaining the organization even through five CEO and multiple C-Suite transitions. H&R Block started as a family-owned firm, then in later years embarked on and eventually withdrew from a diversification effort, moving toward a cost-management strategy. Today, they are focused on their basics, concentrating on growth management, value, year-round business, global presence and tax-plus businesses. The chief strategy officer held an offsite retreat to pinpoint what needed to change in the culture to achieve the strategy. Ann underlines the importance of such executive support. "I’d rather be 80% right with 100% buy-in, than 100% right with 80% buy-in."

Participant reflections:

  • Bart Puglisi, vice president, talent management, at Penske, said the company’s relationship with Wharton got executive development participants "out of their traditional way of thinking about working on real business problems."
  • Anita Jensen, vice president, executive development, at Catholic Healthcare East/Trinity Healthcare, said they use a no-cost approach to development that has participants "shadow the executive team and make recommendations to the senior team for action items."
  • Chris Schuller, director of talent at Dealer Tire LLC, shares an interest with several other i4cp member firms in attendance in "the integration of workforce planning, business planning and talent management."
  • Bill Matte, director, organization development, at Zebra Technologies, says a priority for him is to "define and measure the effectiveness of individual leaders at leading their people."
  • Sonia Blackwell, supervisor, organization development and learning, Federal Reserve Board, is interested in "a holistic approach to executive onboarding and transitioning assistance for new and promoted leaders."

The Executive Leadership Development Exchange will have its next virtual meeting in November and its next Forum in February 2014. Learn more about this working group and how you can join.