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When I took up my current position in 2004, my responsibilities included our people development strategy, and one of my key targets was leadership. I inherited an organisation that delivered to a high standard, yet our worldwide staff satisfaction survey suggested my team was capable of achieving better business results. The key to this was to improve leadership capability.I turned to the Bosch training department and leadership training partners Insync Business Consulting to help my ideas become reality. The first step was the development of an online 360-degree process to provide the information on which to base what became our Leadership Advanced Programme (Leap), which is designed to strengthen leadership capability through coaching, personal development, training and action-centred learning.The LeAP programme is based on the belief that self-awareness creates the stimulus for personal change and growth, with 360-degree feedback and coaching featuring heavily. It is intended to strengthen existing leaders and prepare those with potential for advancement.The foundation programme for Leap focuses on personal relationships and “artful” management, using the Centaur Model of Leadership. This is a pragmatic guide to understanding self and others and provides the key to motivating individuals and teams while building positive relationships. Centaur also provides a common language which has helped Bosch managers and Insync coaches to find solutions to complex interpersonal issues.Other LeAP modules include negotiation, managing risk, organisational politics, and leading and developing high performance. The knowledge gained is used to solve live organisational issues, and learning is consolidated in a series of one-day action learning workshops with myself, the senior team and an Insync facilitator.Feedback on LeAP’s effectiveness is obtained after each module and again after three months to establish that the skills gained through the scheme are being applied. Of the people who have so far attended Leap, 98 per cent rated it “excellent” or “very good”. And 100 per cent of participants would recommend Leap to their peer group or colleagues.I have noted significant improvements in the senior team in terms of shared ownership and increased accountability. This has enabled the leadership team to respond to the current challenges we are facing. Leap also allows us to identify and nurture talented individuals. And as a multinational company, much of the benefit of Leap has derived from Bosch managers who have undergone training and then returned to their home markets to implement it.I also have more time to coach the senior team and focus on strategic issues, customer engagement and supporting the wider organisation. This has only been possible because my management team feel empowered and take more responsibility for problem solving, risk taking and the delivery of creative solutions for complex issues.These improvements are also strongly reflected in our metrics. There was a 10 per cent overall improvement in our employee satisfaction survey over the first two years that Leap was implemented, and an average 15 per cent improvement in the 360-degree feedback results. Around 60 leaders and potential leaders have been through the foundation programme and are now progressing through the other modules. LeAP has significantly changed how senior managers view themselves and their relationships with their peers and colleagues. This in turn is helping us to develop a stronger team of leaders to take Bosch forward in the years ahead.
Lessons learnt- Invest time to clearly identify the leadership challenge.- Developing “emotional intelligence” and improving leadership capability needs the consistent and visible encouragement of senior leaders.- Well-designed leadership development results in stronger business performance and a cohesive management team.- Establish a long-term relationship with expert internal and external delivery partners – the more they know your people and your business, the more effective the solutions.