Due to our contractual agreement we are not allowed to share the name of this company. However, we can describe the general case and results.
This particular company is a Fortune 50 level international firm. They were looking for training for a group of their leaders that could transform those leader’s outlook on leadership.
We developed a counter-intuitive concept for them around the idea that when leaders invest in reading powerful non-business books and literature it stimulates creative thought and strengthens their ability to lead in their business.
We hand-selected a custom reading program to match advanced leadership fundamentals. Our reading list included:
Leadership Is an Art by Max De Pree
Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker
Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor K. Frankl
Emotional Agility by Susan David
Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie
Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
The Logic of Failure by Dietrich Dorner
Not a Book Club
This was not “just a book club.” Our literature selections were simply a creative catalyst to cause innovative thinking and stimulate leadership action. In a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Educating the Next Generation of Leaders,” researchers surfaced the importance of leaders who can deal with “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments, they need leadership skills and organizational capabilities different from those in the past” . The evidence suggests that a liberal arts approach to education and development is more important than technical knowledge. We used that theory to create a power-packed learning and development stream for the selected participants.
We met with the participating leaders twice a month for 5 months. The purpose of these meetings was three-fold:
- Stimulate innovative and out-of-the-box thinking about the business, the organization, the leadership processes, and the people.
- We were able to transfer fundamental leadership knowledge in a new way because our facilitators helped the participants draw critical connections from the literature to their practice.
- Participants created their own actions that were specific towards solving a problem, enhancing a relationship, or helping their direct-reports achieve greater success.
Our facilitators used TED talks, HBR videos, and personal experience to create a fun interactive workshop session that was full of relevant self-reflective comments. The process led to localized leadership actions that enhanced the culture with their direct organizations and with their peer-to-peer relationships. The outcomes showed that when leaders are able to step back and view their world through metaphors, analogies, and abstract scenes, they have a stronger capacity to affect the right change inside their own sphere of influence. They see things through a different lens that opens an innovative conduit inside their group.
The Big Result
At the conclusion of the program we received comments from participants that said their competence in areas of people leadership, team development, trust-building, innovation, planning, and executing increased sharply.
“As a 30-year information technology professional who has worked for Fortune 50 most of my career, I have to say that this is the absolute best course I have taken. The big difference is the course concepts were not ‘flavor of the day’, they allowed me to enhance my leadership.”
Digital Companies Need More Liberal Arts Majors by Tom Perrault: https://hbr.org/2016/01/digital-companies-need-more-liberal-arts-majors
Educating the Next Generation of Leaders by Mihnea Moldoveanu and Das Narayandas: https://hbr.org/2019/03/educating-the-next-generation-of-leaders
How to Education Leaders? Liberal Arts by Patrick Awuah: https://www.ted.com/talks/patrick_awuah_on_educating_leaders?language=en
Liberal Arts in the Data Age by J.M. Olejarz: https://hbr.org/2017/07/liberal-arts-in-the-data-age
The Radicalism of the Liberal Arts Tradition by Jackson Lears: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ663031
Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities by Tony Golsby-Smith: https://hbr.org/2011/03/want-innovative-thinking-hire