A large investment firm has a dual mission: ensure steady financial returns with minimum risk and develop national leaders—leaders who will lead the country into a more competitive and challenging future. They recognized that the existing reliance on expatriate expertise for technical and leadership capability presented both short- and long-term risks and a missed opportunity for contributing to the development of the country.
As a relatively new organization in an emerging economy, with leaders who recognized the importance of human capital, and with a resource base that allowed them to work only with the best, the firm looked to partner with a global leader in leadership development. While they talked and worked with many of the well-known global consultancies and universities, the way that RBL’s methodology connected leadership investments to business strategy and firm brand was the most sustainable.
Building on some recently completed work on external branding, the firm worked with RBL to identify the leadership differentiators that made their leaders unique when compared to leaders at other organizations. They also clearly articulated what leadership investments were most important to shifting away from reliance on an expatriate workforce. In subsequent months and years, the firm has relied on RBL to design and lead highly customized programs to develop both nationals already in leadership positions and nationals who had been with the organization 5-8 years and were seen as individuals who could be leaders in the future.
Both programs engaged participants in specialized development activities including training, coaching, assessment, and experiential learning (task forces, company visits, etc.). In order to have an immediate impact on leadership capability, RBL’s facilitators and coaches worked with leaders as a group and individually. At the group level, facilitators exposed participants to new ways of working at world-class firms around the globe and challenged them to apply new theories and models when running their groups. On an individual level, facilitators coached participants to hold themselves and their teammates accountable for implementing changes that led to improved personal and organizational effectiveness.
The programs reached more than just participants. Participants’ managers were closely involved and coaches connected with them regularly keeping them informed of progress within the program. Alumni requested annual alumni programs for past participants to keep them up-to-date on latest leadership trends wherein alumni who had been promoted returned as internal speakers in the program.
Many participants felt the personal coaching—in conjunction with the more formal program content—had the biggest impact on their effectiveness. By personalizing and reinforcing key concepts and tools, participants were able to quickly see how to be more effective. The 360 Assessment feedback provided a powerful lens to see and reflect on their strengths and development opportunities in an environment where feedback is less commonplace. Peer coaching yielded great results in terms of both accountability and networking.
While this organization provides these cohorts with several other very strong training programs from globally recognized firms and universities, every cohort mentions that the leadership development training they experience with RBL is unique and powerful in its delivery—it stands out as their favorite and most impactful of courses.
More importantly, with hundreds of graduates of these programs over the last ten years, the firm has built a robust and essential pipeline of national leaders capable of meeting business challenges and delivering stakeholder results. More than 30% of the alumni from the emerging leader program have been promoted to people leadership positions within the organization—a very important step for a company that has traditionally relied on ex-pats in these types of positions. In the program for existing national leaders, over 80% of leaders achieved “significant improvement” in their targeted development area from the perspective of their manager and direct reports.