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

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 key strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. The experience was better than anticipated.  I could not be more pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

LSS

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

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

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

You have become our premier change leadership strategic partner. Your expertise in the human side of change is unparalleled and enabled our company to successfully implement our ERP Solution under challenging and ever-changing circumstances.

Ted Ramlet
CIO & SVP

McKesson

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

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

LSA seamlessly integrated those components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, and created a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engage at all levels across the organization.Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a true strategy and implementation partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
President and Director

Redwood Trust

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development, management expertise, and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

Tracy Esposito
Director, HR Business Partner

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

We signed up with LSA early on – as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility.  When we need to supplement our own internal skills or resources, we use LSA knowing that we can depend on outstanding quality advice and solutions every time.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

After a difficult search to find a partner that could address a very specific leadership development need, we chose LSA Global. They were responsive to our needs and created a solution that we continue to see results from. It is nice to know we have access to their expertise with a simple phone call.

Valerie Blackburn
Director of Business Operations

As a high growth digital marketing agency with cutting edge talent, we hired LSA Global to help clarify our strategy and work with our executive leadership team to help implement strategic changes in a way that made sense for our unique culture. The work was so successful that we also hired them to coach our key leaders. LSA has been instrumental in helping us transition to a new leadership team and triple revenue. In this age of useless consultants, I highly recommend their practical and business-oriented approach to strategy, culture and talent.

David Bentley
General Manager

AKQA

We value our relationship with LSA Global. They focus on understanding our business situation and helping us succeed. LSA continues to deliver top quality consulting and leadership solutions that are highly customized for our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource to anyone looking to greatly improve the skills of their leadership, management, and project teams.

Bonnie S. Olson
Vice President of Human Resources

LSS

Having tripled in size and recently merged, LSA helped our executive team to increase our level of strategic alignment, to solidify our new direction, and to push our agency forward. As we look to rapidly scale, the clear, actionable, and 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

We consistently receive positive feedback about the quality of the LSA Leadership Training Programs and LSA facilitators. We recognize and appreciate the hard work LSA always goes through to align to our unique culture and meet our specific requirements. Thank you for regularly going above and beyond to design solutions to meet our needs. Your support and dedication, both on the strategic and tactical side, have been outstanding!

Anna Meyer
Leadership Development

Intuit

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

Sally Buchannan
VP Human Resources

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