Since 2004, Westwood International has designed and led global leadership programs for our Fortune 50 client’s next generation of executives. These action learning programs have developed 18 vice presidents in just four years and have enabled our client to fill more key leadership positions from the inside.
Our client knew they needed a more robust leadership pipeline. When they came to us, they were filling 90% of their director and VP-level positions from outside the organization, and they wanted to reverse that trend.
Their reliance on outside talent was causing angst amongst its aspiring managers and racking up significant costs in executive searches. Vital positions remained vacant for too long. When they were finally filled, it took the organization time to adjust to new leadership, and this cost them their productivity and morale.
Our client needed to cultivate extraordinarily capable “ready now” talent that was prepared to lead globally. But to do it, they knew they couldn’t rely on pre-packaged leadership tools: they wanted to create a program that was 100% their own.
We teamed up with the leadership to design a global program from the ground up. We created an immersive, year-long action learning experience that prepared their top talent for global leadership positions.
We wanted to give emerging leaders the spotlight, the opportunity to take high-level risks, and room to grow into their talents. Now, each year, about 30 delegates are selected for these programs. It’s a rare opportunity for them to collaborate globally and to solve significant, real-world business challenges for the enterprise.
Working in cross-functional teams, they develop strategies to address the problem, pitch their solution to senior executives, and implement it in the real world. In the year that it takes them to go from conception to implementation, they are guided and mentored at every turn, both by Westwood’s world-class teachers and consultants and the organization’s most prominent leaders.
The global program consists of three international residency sessions, three virtual sessions, and ongoing one-on-one coaching, support, and skills training by Westwood’s team. Each of these elements is carefully designed to build the delegates’ leadership acumen over the course of the year.
The international residency sessions, which last about seven days each, take place all over the world. Past teams have met in China, Ireland, Poland, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Belgium,
Italy, and the United States. It’s where teams gather and collaborate on projects face-to-face as Westwood’s on-site coaches monitor and reinforce their progress in real-time.
Presentations, panels, and small group discussions are part of both the virtual and international residency sessions, and delegates learn about a variety of topics from Westwood’s subject-matter experts and coaches, including how to:
Think like executive business leaders and strategic partners.
Turn leading-edge thinking into consistent, natural performance.
Understand the larger enterprise across sectors, continents, and companies.
Acknowledge how culture affects decision-making.
Communicate with people who don’t speak the same language.
Motivate others and get buy-in through precise questioning.
Maximize their strengths and uncover the hidden strengths of others.
Lead high-functioning global teams.
Handle chaos and crisis, initiate collaboration, and lead through influence.
By the end of the program, high-potential leaders that may previously have been overlooked by our client have had a chance to prove themselves as a formidable global force. Learning from success and failure alike, they emerge as more competent, confident, and capable leaders who are ready for top global posts.
Before the global leadership program, our Fortune 50 client’s internal talent had low visibility and limited opportunity to develop their skills. But just four years into the program, our client was experiencing incredible results: instead of filling 90% of their executive-level positions with outside talent, as they did in the past, they were now filling 90% of the positions with internal candidates. In that same time span, the program had produced 18 Vice Presidents.
The action-learning approach has paid off for our client in other ways, too. Not only have program participants gained valuable experience by working on real-world projects, but one such project netted a $430 million dollar opportunity for the company while another created a multi-million dollar market.
The global leadership program alumni network is vibrant well-connected and former delegates still meet with one another to solve critical business challenges, share ideas, and pool resources. It has truly made our client a more globally-connected company.
The program was so successful that Westwood International was asked to help design and lead another global leadership program, this time for rising leaders. It has a similar structure to global leadership program, but with a regional focus. It’s designed to retain top mid-level talent, prepare them for increased responsibility, and solve significant regional business challenges.
The regional leadership program experience has proved to be as transformational as global one. The Westwood International team continues to oversee both programs.