Closing the global leadership competency gap: The motorola GOLD process
Organization Development Journal, Winter 1998 by Foxon, Marguerite J
In a recent speech at the Academy of Management Meetings in 1998, Peter Drucker highlighted the importance of organizations finding and developing talented leadership. As part of the team that developed the management development program for General Electric in the 1950's, the first program of its kind, Drucker continues to argue that management development is vital to organizational effectiveness (Cady, 1998). Phillips (1997) adds that Human Resource Development and management education must become a true business partner in the organization. This partnership is contingent on three things. First, HRD and training groups need to move beyond being event based, and be part of the organization's strategic and operational framework. Second, operating managers across the organization need to be seen as customers with whom strong relationships are established. Finally, evaluating the impact of interventions and programs is essential. Those HRD and training groups that fail to track their programs' impact are running the risk of losing a valuable customer their own organization.
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Traditional approaches to leadership development are often inadequate when applied to the rapidly shifting sands of the business environment. Changes driven by new technology, the globalization of commerce, and the emergence of virtual business groups and teams have caused HRD and training groups to rethink the competencies needed by high performing leaders. The processes which will accelerate the development of these leaders while enabling the organization to maximize their skills and abilities are urgently needed if we are to optimize these changes. This article outlines Motorola's experience establishing such a partnership in order to accelerate the leadership development of high performing managers.
In the first half of this decade the Messaging Systems Products Group (MSPG) in Motorola experienced rapid growth fueled in particular by globalization of markets and retail distribution to consumers. The resulting dramatic shift in both the size and geographic distribution of MSPG's business began to place unique demands on the organization's future. Up to 70% of our business was projected to come from outside the USA within a very short period. In 1994, we estimated that by the year 2000 an additional 200 senior-level managers would be needed to lead our business globally.
Traditional training approaches currently employed in MSPG would not be able to develop the required numbers within the time frame. What was needed was an accelerated leadership development process capable of producing a ,new breed' of leader to take the business into the 21 st century. These leaders will need to transform the business by establishing the FLEX(tm) paging technology as the world wide standard enabling significant value-added services to the consumer. We recognized the need for leaders to manage the business both as a Global Enterprise and as autonomous decentralized organizations, and move from a technology driving to a market driving mindset. Additionally they will need to anticipate change to stay ahead of one of the most dynamic marketplaces in the world, and will be constantly challenged to be creative, innovative and decisive, with an unwavering commitment to the MSPG vision. A lack of the right leadership cadre would result in a failure to take advantage of the markets and a loss of our business impetus. In this context of growth and projected leadership shortfall, we built the Global Organization Leadership Development (GOLD(tm)) process, designed to use MSPG's urgent and critical business challenges as a platform to develop the leadership we require to move into the 21 st century marketplace.
What is GOLD
GOLD goes beyond competencybased leadership training. It is an accelerated leadership development process incorporating three elements. The most visible element is the training piece. The other two are the Business Challenges (the action learning) and GOLD Miner, a tracking process and database.
The training is held each quarter, and amounts to 21 days spread over three months. In the first month approximately 35 participants meet in Asia for 7 days. In the second month they meet in North America for 8 days, and finally in Europe in the third month for 6 days. Who are these managers? Firstly, they must be on our list of recognized high potentials. They are our brightest and best middle managers. Secondly, they come from all regions of the business (Asia, North America, Latin America, Europe), and from all functions-not only engineers but finance, HR, sales, marketing, new product development, etc.
Action learning is a powerful means of contextualizing the training and enhancing transfer of newly learned skills and knowledge (Dixon, 1998). In our model of action learning, a participant's nomination for GOLD is as a member of a Business Challenge Team. General Manager's first select strategic business issues which "keep them awake at night". They then identify high potential managers for GOLD. These managers are formed into cross functional (and invariably cross regional) Business Challenge teams prior to the commencement of the training. The action learning is integrated into the training piece and continues on long after the three months of GOLD training. During the three month period they are attending the three GOLD training sessions each team will work on its Business Challenge over and above their normal work. No time is specifically allocated for working on these Challenges, and all Teams continue meeting and working on their Business Challenge for many months after the GOLD training. This is in line with our view that outstanding leaders have to find ways to achieve outcomes, despite time and resource constraints.