Getting MORE from The Leadership Challenge

Organizations today recognize the value of strong leaders and are investing more resources into leadership development. This is, of course, a favorable trend. On another positive note, more of them are focusing on achieving outcomes. They don’t want simply to provide training. They want to offer leaders multifaceted development that fosters deep learning and promotes behavior and culture change. If you’re charged with developing leaders as we are at FlashPoint, this offers both opportunities and challenges. It’s a great way to shape the organization and impact its future—but it also means we have to be creative in our approach, making sure we have processes and tools that encourage ongoing learning, allow for on-the-job application, and lead to measurable results.

To do this in our work, we incorporate a variety of elements into the programs we design. We call our approach The Leadership Challenge® plus MORE, and we find that it helps drive results.

What does “MORE” look like?

First, it involves a number of activities before the program. These are geared toward helping participants understand the program’s purpose and desired outcomes, getting them thinking about leadership, and ensuring that their managers and executives are onboard. Depending on the nature of the audience and needs of the client, these activities may include:
  • A kickoff with participants. This provides more in-depth background on The Leadership Challenge® and on preparation activities. Tools such as welcome packets and pre-program webinars help outline the key concepts behind The Leadership Challenge and engage participants from the start; well-planned kickoff activities connect back to the organization’s leadership competencies, set participants up for a meaningful Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI®) experience, and establish expectations for learning. 

  • A kickoff with participants’ managers. Learning is most effective when participants’ managers understand the content and its purpose, encourage the learning, and offer support through their own coaching and feedback with participants. As part of our kickoff, we provide tools such as conversation guides that managers can use to follow up on progress.

  • An executive sponsor session. This is typically an overview that introduces executive sponsors to The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. The goal is to help sponsors become familiar with the content so they understand its value and support the learning. As part of this, we often work to determine ways sponsors can participate in the program, such as sharing personal-best leadership stories in sessions, serving as mentors, or taking part in capstone events.

Our commitment to “MORE” also includes a number of reinforcement elements that we introduce either during or after the program. The following are examples:

  • Action learning teams. This is one of the most effective tools that FlashPoint incorporates into The Leadership Challenge because it can accelerate participant development. Action learning involves assigning participants to teams and having them work on a real-life organizational challenge within the context of the leadership skills they’re learning. As participants grow their skills, they also benefit the organization by addressing real issues. When possible, we encourage company executives to sponsor teams. 

  • Follow-up/reinforcement sessions. These serve as another excellent tool to promote learning. We typically encourage sessions at three, six, and nine months post-program. We use them to reintroduce key concepts, explore how participants are applying the newly learned leadership practices, check in on progress with action plans (which they complete during the program), and debrief on LPI reassessments. It’s also an opportune time for participants to ask questions and share their own leadership journey success stories.

  • Individual and/or group coaching. Many of FlashPoint’s clients choose to incorporate coaching into The Leadership Challenge experience. In individual sessions, coaches can debrief on LPI results, check in on progress participants have made toward their action plans, and offer support that’s focused on each participant’s unique development needs. Group coaching provides participants with an opportunity to continue learning from and building relationships with one another; participants offer one another mutual support as they pursue development plans, goals, and action items.

  • Mentoring. Adding a mentoring component can be an excellent way to support participants’ development, especially for emerging leaders or those who are new to leadership roles. The goal, of course, is to have a more experienced leader (perhaps an alumnus of the program) share knowledge, skills, insights, and experiences through dialog and collaborative learning. 

  • LPI reassessment. FlashPoint regularly recommends a follow-up LPI assessment so participants can reassess their leadership behaviors and see how they’ve grown. The results help them to further shape their development needs and adjust action plans, as needed. They also help the organization measure how the program has had an impact and (we hope) demonstrate that it has been successful.

  • A capstone event. This end-of-program event provides an opportunity to celebrate the program’s success. It typically includes a recap of key learning points and an opportunity for participants to share how the program has impacted them. It may even include a presentation from senior executives around the importance of leadership. If the program includes action learning teams, the capstone event is an excellent time for groups to present their work and the outcomes. If one of your goals is advancing your talent pipeline, it can also help raise the visibility of participants with your senior executives. 
Incorporating these additional elements requires an investment of time, resources, and money, but we find that the results make it worthwhile. To help illustrate the impact they can have, we offer the following client success stories:

  • One manufacturer/retailer client has been working with us to deliver The Leadership Challenge over the past five years. We built a year-long program for them, incorporating elements such as participant kickoffs, renewal sessions, action learning teams, coaching, and follow-up LPI assessments. The outcomes have been impressive. A comparison of all pre- and post-program assessment scores indicates that 80 percent of participants achieved one or more of their goals. Analysis shows that more than half the participants improved scores in all five practice areas and that this improvement is statistically significant—that it’s a result of the program, not due to chance. Meanwhile, the company has also used the program to build its bench strength: 78 percent of participants have advanced within the company and have expanded their sphere of leadership influence.

  • A customized 10-month program developed collaboratively with another client, a division of a Fortune 500 IT company, includes a unique first-day exercise that has participants consider the company’s vision and identify ways they can influence change. Participants then form groups to choose an idea and work to implement it throughout the program. As we designed the program we incorporated elements to connect managers, assigned accountability partners, and included program alumni in the sessions. We also included follow-up webinars and group coaching. Over the course of four years FlashPoint has delivered the program to leaders across the globe. In performance reviews, participants have performed 28.5 percent better on their goal performance rating and 16.2 percent better on their competency rating than those who did not participate in the program. Meanwhile, the company has looked at annual employee engagement surveys and found yearly increases in the surveys’ leadership scores after the program.
Taking the time to prepare participants, providing them with multiple reinforcement opportunities, and offering activities that allow them to apply concepts maximizes behavior and culture change. It also inspires and empowers participants on their leadership journey. “In over 30 years in my career, including time with companies known for training,” explained one program participant, “I have never felt that my company is making an investment in my success—as well as the company’s success—as much as I do now.” 

Each client FlashPoint works with is unique, and we collaborate with all of them to develop a leadership development experience that best utilizes their resources and meets their needs. But no matter what form it takes, we know that The Leadership Challenge will deliver. Experience and data tell us, however, that incorporating elements such as the ones we’ve made a part of our The Leadership Challenge® plus MORE approach adds tremendous value. 

Bill Mugavin, CPLP and a Certified-Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge, is a consultant at FlashPoint, a Global Training Partner of The Leadership Challenge committed to ensuring that leaders truly learn practical skills and improve leadership effectiveness—and that the organizations they serve see a strong return on investment. Bill can be reached at bill@FlashPointHR.com or at FlashPoint.

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