Action Learning Leadership Development: Telecom

Using Action Learning to Develop Technology Leaders in a Growing Telecom Company

Client Case Study

Situation

This regional Telecom Company developed a new market strategy and began the transition from a utility to a high-tech, communication service organization.  In preparation for this strategic shift, IT leaders wanted to prepare their mid-level managers to take on a leading role in executing a new strategy that would double the size of the company and put it on a national scale.

The goal for this initiative was to provide mid-level IT managers with executive management skills, greater leadership perspective, and core capabilities needed to take on critical new responsibilities, change initiatives, and new technologies. Specific goals for emerging leaders included:

  • Managing technology expansion programs with high levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and quality in a cost effective manner.
  • Identifying non-IT opportunities that impact the company’s bottom line and increase managers’ enterprise-wide understanding.
  • Balancing strategy execution with tactical challenges.
  • Communicating IT’s value proposition at all levels and roles within the organization.

Complications

  • Change: Managers had little reason to change the way they worked for a very long time; now they needed to innovate and drive value.
  • Learning Expectations: Participants were only used to traditional training with little accountability to learn. Now they would be on the hook to not only apply their learning, but also to produce tangible business impact.
  • Relevance: Provide a learning experience that was relevant to participants’ current and future roles within the company.
  • Executive Sponsorship: Get significant levels of senior executives’ participation to link action learning experiences to current and future IT initiatives.
  • Risk-Taking: The company’s hierarchical organization structure discouraged mid-level managers from taking risks and innovating.  This made it difficult to balance IT innovation with the rest of the company’s desire for IT to remain consistent and conservative.

Approach

The program combined traditional executive and leadership development approaches with an action learning format. Once a month for 4-hours, we provided targeted training on topics such as communication skills, problem solving, conflict management, motivating employees, risk management, and others. For the remainder of that day, and in between sessions, 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. Four teams of 4 participants went through the following steps over a twelve-month timeframe:

  1. Identify opportunities to either drive new revenue or decrease operational costs.
  2. Select one high potential opportunity and create a business case to present to senior executives for implementation approval.
  3. Lead the project implementation, engaging and influencing targeted areas within the company.
  4. Measure results from the project.

During the course of the project, each team received the following just-in-time support:

  • An executive mentor who provided knowledge and input on project focus, company politics, and how to keep on track.
  • A shared Executive Sponsor, the Chief Technology Officer, who met with teams between sessions to provide strategic guidance.
  • A senior operations manager who helped provide subject matter expertise to the program, the facilitators, and the teams.

Results
In twelve to twenty four months:

  • $150,000 in bottom line impact was realized in Year 1
  • $500,000 in bottom line impact was realized in Year 2
  • 25% of participants were promoted immediately following the program as a result of their performance and executive visibility.
  • 12.5% of participants made lateral moves as a result of interest, performance, and new relationships with non-IT executives.
  • The development of new critical processes and identification of marketing opportunities.

Related Information

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

Thank you for a great leadership development session today. The facilitator was brilliant, and we really enjoyed his style and personality. The sales team got a lot out of it (as did I). I believe it will help us create an even higher performance environment by ensuring we have a common understanding of our environmental structure and are all working towards the same goals.

Simon Jefferson
Managing Director

AKQA

LSA is an excellent training outsource partner! They listen to our needs, are responsive and work at a pace that keeps up with ours. We have found LSA to bring strategic and innovative solutions to meet our business problems by partnering effectively with our staff. I consider them to be an external extension of our team.

Wendy Chinn
Sr. Director, Global Sales Enablement

Redwood Trust looked to LSA Global as a consulting partner to help us explore innovative and scholarly approaches to promote employee engagement and sustain the unique culture we’ve built over the last decade.

LSA helped us perpetuate coaching as a discipline across the organization by integrating our core values, goal setting and performance measurement metrics under an interactive coaching program.

We appreciate LSA’s commitment to cutting-edge practices and keeping us in step with the progressive front of our rapidly changing workplace environment.

Rosalyn Chan
Vice President, Human Resources

Redwood Trust

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

We recently hired LSA to help us take our client delivery methodology to the next level as we continue to grow and help our clients succeed. The custom strategy and design session exceeded my expectations. They really understood our business and turned around the project within a tight timeframe. LSA’s consultants were the best I have seen for this type of project. LSA’s ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their plans and execution to the next level.

Rob Sturgeon
EVP Client Delivery

Service Source

The customized leadership program was very practical and achieved our goals. LSA adapted very well to our group and the situation and helped us build trust and awareness of successful leadership styles. We look forward to the next steps.

Erik Okholm
Director of Software Development

LSA Global has been a great partner in helping ServiceSource move toward its Vision of being “the leading developer of talent in the service performance management industry.” I have engaged LSA’s services to help develop best-in-class programs in the areas of: Executive On-boarding, Manager Training, Sales Training, Employee Engagement and Instructional Design. They have consistently met or exceeded my (very) high expectations and are always responsive to my needs.

Mike Normant
Senior Director, Training & Development

Service Source

The action-learning leadership project has been very beneficial to me, our leadership team, and the entire organization. The balance of development and results has been excellent. We have made huge progress, and I was also able to identify 2-3 high potentials while having the extra benefit of people stepping up to carry strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. It is still going better than anticipated, and I have been very pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

LSS

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA designed a modular and customized management curriculum that allows us to deliver top quality solutions to our managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our learning and development partner and our LSA consultants to be an extension of our team.

Lisa Bruun
SVP Human Resources

Ellie Mae

LSA demonstrated the criticality for executives to look beyond current ethics topics and focus on applying fundamental values in everything they do to demonstrate true leadership. They successfully delivered in two hours what most leadership development presenters would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

Nick Voyvodich, SPHR
HR Manager

Fujitsu

LSA’s executive coach based his approach on understanding our business circumstances and strategy, as well as our leadership aspirations. The customized coaching covered all aspects of leadership; it was not simply a touchy-feely endeavor. In fact, the focus on clear business outcomes and real life circumstances challenged me to develop my thinking and actions related to leading the business.”

Janet Pagano
Managing Director

Ovid

Having tripled in size and recently merged, LSA helped our executive team to increase our level of strategic alignment, solidify our new direction and push our agency forward. As we look to rapidly scale, the clear and actionable critical few strategic moves combined with how we differentiate ourselves to our top accounts and target clients has really set us on a great path to success. This is exactly what we needed to get to the next level.

Matt Britton
CEO

It was a challenge to find a consultant with an approach to performance improvement that fit our unique culture and style. When we met with LSA we were surprised to discover their depth of expertise in the fields of motivation, developmental coaching and performance management and measurement.

Specifically, we were pleasantly surprised to find a company that could seamlessly integrate those three components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, create a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engaged people at all levels.

As they began to implement, I was thoroughly impressed with how they listened and made adaptations focused on our needs and business objectives. Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
President and Director

Redwood Trust

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