Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow
Leadership development is a critical strategy for any organization. As Alexandria Industries underwent a five-year visioning process, and grew both organically and through acquisitions, we recognized the toll this can take on our leadership. We also realized we are an aging workforce. Our demographics reminded us that we not only have a great deal of experience in our leadership team, we also have a number of executives, managers and supervisors in the same age group.
As a result, we needed to be serious about planning who our successors will be and building each individual’s core leadership competencies. It became critical that we put a sustainable program in place to develop the skill sets of our existing and emerging leaders.
We established four tiers of leaders – executives, managers, supervisors, leads – and determined the skill sets needed at each level – technical, business, entrepreneurial, results oriented, professional relationships.
Using a three-prong, purposeful approach to leadership training, we integrated leadership competencies into training modules to help participants develop the necessary skills to become great leaders. We also created training courses and one-on-one coaching sessions to help build individual leadership characteristics and behaviors, while employing specific projects to provide opportunities for practical application.
The schedule for training, coaching and application projects for each topic occurs every three to five weeks, adding up to more than 100 hours of classroom training, more than 24 hours of personal coaching and countless hours spent applying the knowledge and skills.
The first Leadership Academy graduating class came from all functional areas of the organization. They were managers, supervisors and leads. Everyone now has expanded roles. One person took the helm of our Texas facility. Another received a promotion from an accounting supervisor to the corporate controller, and a third became an officer of the company.
After the first Leadership Academy, we evaluated each program segment and made content changes in some training sessions. We added two new sessions on Critical Thinking and Servant Leadership, and moved two sessions into an entry-level leadership program – Leadership 101 – while retaining our Leadership Masters 201 higher-level course. We also incorporated 360-degree peer reviews.
Our second Leadership Academy, with 30 employees, will graduate in early 2014. We are excited to see what this next generation of leaders will bring to our business, and yours.