Freebies Articles and Handouts Leadership Development Case Study
Leadership Development Case Study
(Note: We did this program with our partners
at LSA Global)
An industry leader in the real estate investment market decided
to capitalize on this slow economic period by developing their
existing and future leaders while simultaneously improving their
The goal of the program was to develop the next generation of
leaders that would significantly grow the company and maintain the
philosophy and culture created by the company founders. Specific
objectives were to:
- Identify opportunities that would impact the company's
- Execute strategies that would create a competitive
- Initiate and lead change within the organization
The Leadership Development Program design needed to address the
- Utilize the collective company and industry knowledge of
senior executives in different functional roles
- Provide a learning experience that was relevant to
participants' day jobs and future roles within the company
- Remain at all times practical and applicable to the overall
corporate strategy so that the senior executives saw results
from the team initiatives
- Generate outcomes that contributed to the cost of the
An action learning format provided the foundation of the
program. Participants worked in cross-functional teams, with a
goal of providing a significant contribution to the company's
bottom line or competitive position. Teams progressed through the
phases of a major project while they received just-in-time
training, coaching, mentoring, and the tools necessary to succeed.
The teams of three went through the following steps over the
course of six months:
- They identified opportunities to either drive new revenue or
decrease operational costs
- They selected one high potential opportunity and created a
business case to present to senior executives for implementation
- They led the project implementation, engaging and
influencing most areas of the company
- They measured the results of their efforts
During the course of the project, each team was supported by an
executive mentor who provided significant knowledge to the team
about their project focus, company politics, and how to keep on
track. Each team also had an NEO sponsor—the CEO, the
President, or the Chief Risk Officer, each meeting with their
assigned team on a regular basis to provide strategic
The Leadership Development Program produced significant results
across three dimensions: business results, leadership maturation,
and organizational learning.
- Roughly $3 million realized in 2008 bottom line impact
- At least $10 million more expected in 2009
- Development of new critical processes
- Validation of several key current processes
- Identification of new high potential market opportunities
- The identification of several very high potential new
leaders in the company
The most profound and meaningful learning for the participants
were their own reflections based on their experiences at each
stage of their project. While they learned about theories,
methods and tools that could help them, their biggest
“A-ha's” came from breakthroughs in their own
thinking, or from the consequences of their actions, as evidenced
by the comments below.
Participants identified the following key areas of learning:
- “Seeing opportunities”; not overlooking ideas
because they seemed too simple.
- Presenting to senior management—being brief and knowing
when to stop “selling”.
- Pre-selling your ideas before ‘official’
meetings within the organization.
- Doing enough due-diligence to trust the data you
- Optimizing an internal process can generate revenue as much
as cutting costs.
- Big picture ideas are great, but smaller, more manageable
projects often have greater ‘yield’.
- Acting quickly to vet great ideas.
- Not relying on outside partners to determine your
- Asking lots of questions in the beginning and organizing
- Being flexible with your ideas/visions and being adaptable
to a fast changing environment.
- Making sure everyone has a clear understanding and agreement
on the objectives/deliverables etc.
- Not being afraid to step up and lead, particularly in the
absence of leadership. Being confident.
- Knowing that it is incredibly valuable to work
- It is not enough just to have good ideas. You need to be
able to convince other people that your ideas are good in order
for your good ideas to gain traction.
- Absent accountability, opportunities (or $$) can fall
through the cracks.
The breadth of the opportunities addressed in this program
required involvement from nearly the entire company, and expanded
the cross-functional learning and discovery process to all
employees who were involved. As participants learned what they
could achieve by acting as leaders, so did all who were
tangentially involved in the projects.
Action Learning Results
Finally, the following participant quotes attest to the success
of the action learning format in developing new leaders:
- “Good microcosm of the issues and opportunities that
happen every day at our company.”
- “The team learned how to manage working in an
unstructured environment, dealing with time pressures, and
working with different personalities.”
- “Typically skills development is done through formal
training in a seminar with a lecture, simulations, and/or role
playing for a few hours, making it easy to go back to your
day-to-day routine and old habits. The leadership project was
an opportunity to develop long lasting skills over a six month
period working on a real world problem with actual financial
benefits to the company.”
- “This crash-course in navigating the roads to
successful leadership at our company provided hands-on
experience that will serve me well in my career.”
Copyright © 2009. Workshops
by Thiagi, Inc. All rights reserved
Revised: February 12, 2009