Strengthening Leadership Skills and CultureLast week Melanie Will, Manager of Learning and Organization Development, Wilfrid Laurier University and I delivered a one hour webinar on Strengthening Leadership and Culture. Melanie provided a case study using many examples and research data from their organization’s use of The Extraordinary Leader Development System for over 160 leaders throughout the university.

We covered a lot of ground during this broad overview and fast-paced webinar. This included the challenges and power of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses, key competencies that produce measurable results, overcoming the common problems of 360 multi-rater assessments, how to use cross-training versus traditional linear approaches to build leadership skills, and how Laurier used peer coaching and a follow up process to boost ongoing leadership skill building.

Melanie reported that Laurier is shifting its culture toward building a strengths-based foundation. Participants made comments like, “this type of program is very valuable in keeping morale and motivation up in difficult times.” Like many organizations, Laurier has used traditional 360 assessments with their focus on fixing weaknesses. The experience left a negative legacy and apprehension about using another 360 assessment process.

However, using a strengths-based 360 proved to be quite a different experience. In follow up surveys:

  • 82% of participants indicated the 360 assessment was the most valuable component
  • 90% focused on strengthening a strength
  • 93% indicated the investment of the leadership development program has been valuable
  • 98% indicated self-awareness increased
  • 93% feel they have walked away from the program with increased capacity as a leader

Laurier is now reviewing and putting together further organization development plans based on a rich set of aggregated data such as employee engagement levels, results at different management levels, most common strengths, and competencies rated as most important across the organization. This also includes moving toward a strengths-based approach to performance management.

Melanie concludes that, “letting go of weaknesses unleashes the energy to act on a personal development plan because the structure of the program is very motivating and inspiring…when participants find the ‘sweet spot’ (intersection of strength, organizational need, and passion) it feels easy — people are too busy for difficult.”

A big thanks to Melanie for sharing Laurier’s successful approaches with us. Click on How Laurier is Strengthening Leadership Skills and Culture to view the archived webinar.