In an economy where the unemployment rate is holding steady at less than 4 percent and voluntary separations (or quits) are increasing, an appealing company culture is essential if your business wants to keep the employees you have as well as attract new job candidates. Leadership is a vital component of culture – both in its development and maintenance. If your organization has strong leaders, you’ll enjoy high productivity and low turnover. Poor leaders will yield the opposite.
What’s the best way to ensure effective leadership? The answer is simple: develop it from within. RewardExpert recently spoke with John Wright, President of Leadership Development and Learning Events at Eagle’s Flight, to get his insight into how your company can do exactly that.
Inspired by a Passion for Developing People
Founded in 1988 by Phil Geldart, Eagle’s Flight is a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs. The organization has more than 6,000 clients in over 35 countries and has worked with over 50 percent of the world’s Fortune 500 companies.
Eagle’s Flight’s clients span industries from automotive, agriculture, food and beverage, and hospitality to finance, pharmaceuticals, mining and energy.
“We work across all industries because it’s really about people development,” Wright said. “Once you understand the people development side learning becomes industry agnostic, as many would say, because the people issues tend to be very similar across industries.”
Releasing Human Potential is Essential
Whether an organization wants to build a leadership pipeline, create a competency framework, or create a culture of leadership excellence, Eagle’s Flight offers leadership development services that can help.
“Philosophically, we subscribe to the idea that a leader’s role is to release the human potential of their people,” Wright explained. “That means not only do they have to understand each person as an individual, but they also have to learn to see potential and leverage each person’s unique skills into the organization so that person can feel maximum personal self-actualization.”
Wright noted that when employees experience personal engagement and satisfaction, they are more likely to grow and contribute more to an organization’s mission. “That’s the philosophy behind our programs,” he added.
Eagle’s Flight offers three levels of leadership development training based on where an employee is in his or her journey, from operating as an individual contributor to becoming a leader of people or, finally, a leader of leaders.
“Our Personal Leadership program works on how to be accountable, manage your time, be a great team player, and things like that,” Wright explained. “Our Living Leadership program is for professionals who are more in the senior leader and executive-type suite.”
All programs take place in a classroom setting using experiential learning techniques that combine immersive activities with targeted debriefings. Students learn by doing, developing new competencies and better retaining information.
Developing Your Own Program
If a better culture with more engaged employees, higher productivity and lower turnover sounds good to you, Wright shared the following tips to help you get there with your own leadership development program.
Build a leadership pipeline. “Even if you’re a small organization, you’re going to need leaders at some point or you’ll be limited in your ability to grow,” Wright said. “How are you going to develop those leaders? Training is going to be one of your greatest competitive weapons. As you train future leaders, you build skills into them. You build an organizational philosophy into them. And you build a kind of organizational ethos that allows you to grow a culture as leadership roles expand.”
Outline your mission, vision, values and competencies. “The better you can articulate those as a leader, the easier it will be to build them into the next generation of leaders,” Wright explained. “Everything in research would say that these things – essentially, your culture are as important and critical as your product.”
Live, model and coach your culture. “If the founding leader cannot live, model and coach the mission, vision and values that have been set forth, then it will be much more difficult to make them a non-negotiable part of the organizational culture later on,” Wright said. “Remember, at the end of the day, people want to have a leader they can follow. They want a leader who they can believe in and who models the values the organization stands for. Give them that, and you’ll have people who will stick with your workforce for a long time.”