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

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

LSA’s approach has certainly brought value to Knight Ridder Digital. They were laser focused on our goal and determined to meet all of our Leadership development program needs. Their flexibility and commitment were keys in making our program successful.

Dipik Rai
Director of Marketing

LSA always helps us provide the right sales, management, and leadership programs at the right time to meet the unique needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to deeply understand our business and our culture so that they can recommend the appropriate solutions.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

LSA helped us with leadership development by designing a solution to match our unique needs and culture. It was such a huge success and received rave reviews. I would highly recommend LSA to help take leaders and managers to the next level.

Karen King, SPHR
Manager, Human Resources

Alliance Data

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, 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 engaged 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

Thank you for a great leadership development session today. The facilitator was brilliant. The 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 how to create higher performance and work toward clear and common strategic goals.

Simon Jefferson
Managing Director

AKQA

LSA consistently delivers for me and my team.  Recently they 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 facilitators would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

Nick Voyvodich, SPHR
HR Manager

Fujitsu

We selected LSA Global over 5 other companies to help our key executives improve their overall communication and executive presentation capabilities. LSA exceeded our expectations.  I highly recommend LSA to any executive team looking to better organize and more effectively deliver key executive-level messages when the stakes are high.

Todd Power
Office of the CEO

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

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

We reviewed the top Leadership Development offerings and selected LSA’s 12-month Leadership Program based upon the value and systemic approach. The feedback on the program, approach, and results was phenomenal. While other programs may be better known, they were more theoretical and did not compare in terms of practicality, quality, and results.

Stacey Porter
Senior Manager Learning and Development

Roche

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA custom designed an impactful management curriculum to help upskill our key managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our trusted learning and development partner and a valued extension of our team.

Lisa Bruun
SVP Human Resources

Ellie Mae

We contacted LSA to help us design and deliver customized management development programs. LSA worked with us to meet our exact needs. We started at the top with our executive team.  It was such a great success that we rolled it out company-wide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager

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

The customized leadership styles and coaching program was the best training that I have ever attended. The facilitators were phenomenal. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge coupled with compassionate and caring styles. I’d highly recommend this leadership training program to any manager, director, or executive looking for a life changing leadership program.

Shoaleh Ghaffari
Director, HR

Cutera

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