Leadership development is once again at the forefront as a critical
business issue. The aging of the U.S. population and the knowledge
voids left by early retirements are just some of the workforce
factors that cause organizations to proactively anticipate
leadership needs and talent gaps. Other changes brought on by
deregulation, competition, and globalization also have led to a
shortage of leaders who can help organizations navigate and plan.
Finally, organizations have a renewed focus on retaining leaders
and reducing turnover of top talent.
For Nextel's Leadership Institute, the business case for linking
leadership development to improved organizational performance was
easy. The critical question was how to best develop leaders and
ensure that the organization received a reasonable return on its
Methods with Impact
To build the company's leadership bench strength, Nextel's
Leadership Institute implemented a systems approach using a
combination of proven methods, including assessment, challenging
experiences, and formal developmental relationships. An essential
element in all of these methods is one of reflectivepractice. Each
of these methods has an impact when used separately, but when
combined, the leadership development potential is significant.
One assessment tool is 360-degree multi-rater feedback, in which
evaluators collect data about performance from managers,
subordinates, peers, colleagues, customers, or suppliers. They
consolidate this data into one report. The multiple perspectives in
the report provide a powerful driving force for change and
development. However, they can prove costly and the feedback may
not be useful if it only rates generic competencies.
Job assignments are one type of challenging experience that can
enhance leadership. Some include:
- job transitions
- new or task force assignments
- managing without authority.
Job assignments allow leaders to learn by doing. The
leadership-development challenge for any organization is to create
formal processes through which the right leader receives
the right assignment at the right time.
Many organizations establish mentoring programs. Most leaders can
give examples of relationships that have influenced their career.
Often, as Leadership Scorecard a leader progresses, familiar
support systems are no longer available. A mentor can bridge that
A common thread connecting each of these development methods is
that of reflective practice. This enables a leader to reflect
critically about an experience, to examine underlying beliefs and
assumptions, and to consider problem-solving strategies.To provide
Leaders with a well-rounded development opportunity, Nextel's
Leadership Development Program combines development methods of
360-degree feedback, individual development plans, job assignments,
formal mentoring, and regular reflective practice.
How to Measure the Impact?
Nextel created an evaluation plan to help measure program impact.
They based the plan - which outlined evaluation methods, data
sources, and timetables - on Jack Phillip's ROI Process. They then
used the data to populate a Leadership Scorecard. In measuring the
impact of its leadership development initiative, it emphasized the
importance of an effective needs assessment. This ensured a link
between the initiative an key business measures from the start.
Nextel's Leadership Institute has found that you must implement
effective leadership-development methods with proven measurement
and evaluation processes. This provides the opportunity to impact
the performance of leaders and to demonstrate the benefits of
leadership Development to the organization through use of a