Special Webinar on Developing Leaders at Wilfrid Laurier UniversityWLU is a dynamic and fast growing university in the heart of “Silicon Valley North” in Waterloo. A core part of their mission and values is nurturing a culture that “inspires lives of leadership and purpose.” Our daughter, Vanessa, is a Laurier graduate. Living in Waterloo Region, I’ve spoken to various student groups and conferences on leadership and personal effectiveness over the years.

In 2013, The CLEMMER Group began to work with Laurier to further strengthen their leadership and culture. Melanie Will, Manager of Learning and Organizational Development, developed a strategy using The Extraordinary Leader’s strengths-based leadership approach as a foundation. We started by introducing The Extraordinary Leader process and coaching senior executives in building their personal development plans. This was followed by custom building a series of “Taking Action” modules. These are peer coaching sessions to follow through and further build participant’s personal development plans.

Melanie was then certified to deliver all this material to Laurier’s leaders. Over the next 18 months she cascaded The Extraordinary Leader and Taking Action modules to over 160 leaders throughout Laurier. This laid the foundation for a culture shift toward building strengths and a more positive, motivating environment that inspires lives from the inside out across Laurier.

This year all the 360 assessment data on overall leadership effectiveness, strengths, staff engagement levels, the importance ratings of key competencies for each position, and significant weaknesses that might need attention, were summarized in an aggregate analysis. This is now forming the base for planning the next stages in Laurier’s leadership and organization development.

When asked to reflect on the main impact of this work at Laurier Melanie said, “The strengths-based approach to leadership development is very different and contrary to our long conditioning on gap-based learning and development. Once participants let go of irrelevant weaknesses and focus on what matters most, strengthening strengths, the impact is significant. The biggest difference I have noticed with this program is participants’ energy to focus on development planning. When strengths align with passion and organizational need, people are motivated to implement.”

View the case study webinar Melanie and I conducted to learn more about The Extraordinary Leader and how Laurier has so innovatively adapted it to strengthen leadership skills and culture.