In late 2007, East Jordan Iron Works launched a Leadership Education Assessment and Development (LEAD) program. This annual internal program was designed to target the needs of high-performing leaders across business units, focus on the development of these individuals and grow the organization’s leadership pipeline.
Kristin Nelson, manager of learning and organizational development for East Jordan Iron Works, designed the LEAD program. She said that until this development offering, the company had only provided group and individual training as needed. There had never been a structured leadership development program in place. Because the LEAD program was such a fresh solution, Nelson said that “it was hard to know where to start.”
Currently, the first group of participants is graduating from the program, and Nelson is pleased with the development of these individuals and the benefits for the organization.
To go from not knowing where to begin to launching a successful program, East Jordan Iron Works had to define where it wanted to be, evaluate individuals against those expectations and create a development plan. To achieve this, the company:
1. Created a success profile. Information was gathered from discussions during company conferences and senior management meetings and then combined with the organization’s mission, vision and values. From these beliefs and strategic planning, eight core competencies were identified as the behaviors that the LEAD participant should exhibit to be successful in their roles.
2. Assessed its leaders. This was the first time the organization launched an internal 360-degree assessment. It designed and built a survey that was customized to the LEAD program’s eight competencies. The main purpose of the 360-degree assessment was to uncover the unique development areas of these leaders. The chosen survey method provided a straightforward, user-friendly and efficient process. However, the main benefit of using this 360-degree tool was that the strength and growth areas were clearly indicated in the feedback reports. Leaders were able to see exactly which areas to develop, and this step led to participant buy-in for the remainder of the program.
3. Maximized value from the 360-degree data for developing the individual, business unit and organization. Each LEAD participant received his or her report and had a one-to-one feedback session with Nelson. From this discussion, participants created individual development plans. They were then encouraged to share the key messages from their 360-degree assessment and their development plans with their managers and senior leader mentors. This formal plan was then approved and signed off for action during the year. To keep up on their development goals, participants met with their mentors on a regular basis throughout the year.
To ensure business units were aligned, the group level 360-degree data was used to determine which areas to focus on during the two-day classroom time. The top two areas for group development were identified, and the content for the training was structured around these competencies. The two days consisted of leader-led training, vendor teaching and some invaluable time with senior leaders from the organization.
The big-picture perspective was valuable for the organization. The individual and group data gave East Jordan Iron Works a good indication of the leadership needs across the company. Focusing on gaps in LEAD competency scores helped the team focus the organization’s broader leadership training effort.
The first year of the LEAD program is complete, and Nelson said East Jordan Iron Works is satisfied with the development results of its first cohort. The company is launching the second year of the LEAD program and expects to grow its leadership capabilities even further in 2009.Filed under: Leadership Development