Fifty-fivepercent of senior leaders at the Federal Reserve
Bank of Cleveland (FRBC) were eligible for retirement within the
next five to 10 years. That data led to a gap analysis, which
uncovered the leadership competencies and talent needs for the
future success of the organization.
To meet these future leadership needs and remain ahead of projected
workforce planning trends, the FRBC created an Emerging Leader
Program (ELP) to retain high-performing employees and cultivate the
organizations talent pool through focused development.
An additional concern surfaced regarding the increasing difficulty
of attracting talented new people to the organization over the next
one to five years. The flight of talented college graduates and
young professionals from the organizations region, compounded by
the slow economic recovery in the region, made the realization that
recruiting high-potential talent would be difficult.
Lacking the ability to quickly select high-quality people to fill
key positions, FRBC highlighted development and retention of key
talent as critical success indicators for the organization. FRBC
wanted to identify talented employees, and provide them with rich
and varied experiences to fill development gaps.
The bank also discovered it lacked an organization-wide,
coordinated, talent development strategy. As a result, internal
talent was underutilized and underdeveloped, ultimately hindering
the organizations performance by reinforcing silos in its culture.
To address these pitfalls, the HR staff gained senior leader
commitment through personal involvement, resource discussions, and
a clear articulation of the organizations talent management
The HR staff facilitated conversations with its senior executive
committee to assess leadership competencies, potential derailment
factors, long-term development goals, and desired results.
Senior executives determined that the best strategy was to build
the leadership talent from within the current high potential
employee population by implementing a leadership development
program. Rather than investing in pre-packaged vendor competency
development programs, FRBC identified the exact capabilities needed
for success and developed a model based on those requirements.
Emerging leader program
The resulting Emerging Leader Program is practiced throughout the
organization. The first class of participants, ELP Class I,
completed the full three-year program in May 2010. Currently there
are two additional ELP classes (III and IV) enrolled, each active
in different phases of the program.
The focus of the ELP core curriculum is to target structured
thought and communication, project management, connectivity and
social, intelligence, systems thinking, and problem solving.
Now in its fourth year of operation, the ELP continues to
demonstrate success in meeting the challenge of retaining high
performing employees and cultivating the organizations talent pool
through focused development. The program supports competency
development through classroom instruction, coaching, development
planning, cross-functional team participation, and mentoring over a
three-year time period.
The six components of the program, which mirror the 70-20-10 rule,
1. coaching and assessments to help participants form leadership
2. a three-year enhanced development plan to map out desired
3. structured curriculum to address critical leadership
competencies identified in the gap analysis
4. cross-functional team projects to increase knowledge of the
organization, build networks within the organization, and gain
practical problem solving and project management experience
5. peer mentoring groups to increase the flow of information
between ELP participants and senior leadership, promote
cross-functional communication and engagement; and provide a forum
for leadership discussion
6. a capstone project to demonstrate the collective knowledge and
skills learned and contribute back to the organization.
To select employees for ELP, FRBC allowed potential participants to
self nominate. In addition, the HR staff involved managers and
officers in the selection process, providing officers and managers
with tools to evaluate potential participants, and encouraging
candid discussion between leadership and potential participants
about the merits of their application. Furthermore they provided
information to those not selected, and told them what they need to
do to prepare themselves for future classes.
Learning and development staff members referenced leadership
development best practices to design the ELP framework, including
1. linking development to business strategy
2. creating a longer development horizon
3. supporting formal learning through application
4. coaching and mentoring
5. increasing self-awareness
6. exposing senior leaders to the high potentials
7. maintaining consistency and continuity of implementation.
Participants averaged 80 to 100 hours per year for three years to
complete the program. Learning and development staff offered
coaching support and additional resources as work demands and
program requirements compete. Throughout the program, a blended
learning approach to the curriculum included seminars led by
outside experts and senior executives of the organization, online
course modules, group discussions, and hands-on application.
To increase knowledge of the organization, build networks, and gain
practical problem solving and project management experience, all
participants engaged in a cross-functional team project. The
cross-functional assignments required an investment of
approximately 60 hours of time over a three-to four-month period.
Throughout the second year, participants engaged in peer mentoring
groups as another channel to foster leadership development. Each
group met for two hours each month, where organization officers,
who served as advisory mentors to each group of six ELP
participants, shared leadership stories and led a shared agenda of
topics generated by participants. One of the 12 meetings included
the opportunity to observe an organization management committee
meeting. There, participants were exposed to organization leaders
to increase their awareness of how organization leaders address
organization-wide topics such as development and approval of the
organization budget and the role of the board versus role of the
Originally, ratings were consistently low on seminar feedback
evaluations regarding pre-program communication. To address this
issue, HR staff initiated a knowledge-sharing tool, called
Knowledge Bank, as a way to streamline communication, share
documents, and engage participants in online discussions regarding
Throughout, participants indicated that they wanted opportunities
to apply what they learned, try new ways of doing things, make
progress on the goals identified in their EDP, and devote more time
to fully participate in the program. FRBCs staff was committed to
build experiential learning opportunities into the program without
increasing participants time investment. As a result, small
post-assignments were integrated into each seminar to reinforce
Externally, the ELP has been recognized in the business community,
as well as within similar organizations nationally. FRBC has shared
its program through formal presentations at the regional Society
for Human Resource Management conference and local Institute for
Management Studies member groups.
As a result, multiple organizations are using the ELP framework to
form leadership development programs in their own organizations.