An innovator in global finance founded in 1850, Lehman Brothers serves the financial needs of diverse customers around the world, maintaining its leadership position in equity and fixed income sales, trading and research, investment banking, private equity and wealth and asset management services. Headquartered in New York, Lehman has roughly 20,000 employees worldwide working in a network of global offices, as well as regional headquarters in London and Tokyo.
Hope Greenfield joined Lehman Brothers in June 2001 as the firm’s first chief learning officer. She developed selling and relationship management training programs for all client-facing employees, designed to enhance their range of effectiveness—both internally and with clients.
“Running the training function as a business” represents an incomplete job description for Greenfield. “Paying attention to the bottom line and generating a strong ROI is necessary, but not sufficient,” she explained. “The point of my role is to drive the strategy and culture of the firm through leadership development and through selling and relationship management training.”
Learning represents a “constant conversation” at Lehman Brothers, rather than an agenda item of planning meetings. “I’m highly involved in understanding what’s going on from a strategic perspective,” Greenfield said. “But it’s a two-way street. I’m training our people, so I also have access to a lot of information about what’s going on organizationally. I constantly bring valuable information back to senior managers—how the organization is running effectively or not effectively, and what we can do to improve that.”
Greenfield is involved in the design of all learning and development programs. She also teaches and coaches the firm’s top executives. She spends little time wading through the details of product training, which the business units handle, or getting bogged down in administrative details. “The value I add is much more related to helping to further the strategy and culture of the firm,” Greenfield said, asserting that CLOs need to define their roles as soon as they join an organization. “My experience is that you establish that kind of credibility in an organization very quickly or you don’t do it at all. Once you do, you are included in the right conversations. But you don’t do that simply by running good training programs. You build that through the relationships you have.”
The leadership development that Greenfield and her modestly sized staff provide focuses more on individual leadership growth than on traditional product or management training. “Our senior managers are capable of teaching at the university level, so our role is to help them better understand and strengthen their leadership capabilities,” she said.
Through a combination of 360-degree reviews and individual coaching (for higher-level executives), Greenfield and her staff encourage Lehman Brothers managers to examine how they make leadership decisions, cultivate their skills and help mine their employees’ leadership potential. “We focus on their strengths because that’s what we want them to leverage,” she explained. “We treat weaknesses as more of a noise factor—it’s their job to make the noise go away. So far, we have been amazingly successful.”
Greenfield credits Lehman’s executive team with embracing learning as a strategic business opportunity. “The company really gets it,” Greenfield said. “Learning and development is highly integrated at Lehman—it’s part of our philosophy.” Members of the firm’s executive management committee—Greenfield’s “senior internal faculty”—help develop and run training programs. In fact, 150 of the firm’s managing directors participated globally as internal faculty for sales and leadership programs in 2004 and 2005.
In 2004, some 3,600 unique employees used Lehman’s leadership training modules on the company’s Web site, with the various pages earning 12,000 or more hits per page. The results have been very positive. For example, 45 percent of the Lehman managers who went through a second 360-degree review two years after their initial review demonstrated clear improvement in management and leadership skills. In addition, Greenfield said that the client-focus scores on all of the follow-up 360-degree reviews rose significantly, demonstrating a positive response to the firm’s client-focus initiatives.
George Bongiorno, Greg Coleman, Gregory Hessel and Wendy Murphy are senior client partners in the Human Resources practice of Korn/Ferry International. E-mail the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org.