The High ROI of Sustained Formal Leadership Development
A Case Study of a Ten-Year Investment in Mid-Level Leadership Development with ROI of 1,500%
An international Fortune 100 company had a critical need to develop employees into frontline leaders. These rising leaders would take over the task of growing the organization from a large group of long-term, productive leaders who were starting to retire, and to initiate and lead a number of promising new business initiatives.
The company determined to develop from within, for two reasons:
- Leaders brought in from outside the industry have long, steep learning curves.
- Competitors were actively hiring new leaders from the same industry talent pool, which increased the challenge of retaining promising leaders.
Work with Bovo-Tighe to implement an organized leadership development program to grow new leaders from within, and deepen their commitment to the company long-term.
Candidates were nominated to participate in a 3-year leadership development process, going through a rigorous interviewing and selection process. Annually for the last ten years, 30 to 40 people have entered the program, with a wide diversity of ages, experience and nationalities.
Bovo-Tighe and the client developed the leaders to adopt and habitualize effective leadership practices, while also mastering the company’s core values of honesty, integrity, respect for people, and maintaining a stellar safety focus.
Year One focused primarily on personal mastery
- Thorough personal assessments and debriefs identifying current leadership behaviors and internal “driving forces”
- Personal development workshops to set the foundation, building more productive personal leadership mindsets and behaviors
- Dynamic Communications workshops to apply results of personal assessments, learning how to better engage, collaborate with and lead others
- Time management workshops, learning specific skills to master time and energy, and how to focus on the correct priorities and business needs
- Mentoring Pairs meeting monthly to lock in better leadership habits, working with Bovo-Tighe coaches. This step continued throughout the three-year program for each group. It included three face-to-face meetings annually with each other and Bovo-Tighe facilitators.
- Year-long special projects addressing real organizational challenges, submitted by operating units around the company. Results were presented to senior management.
Year Two built on the gains of Year One, expanding to people management
- Achieving Personal Accountability workshop, translating personal leadership skills into team leadership skills
- Mentoring pairs continued, supported by Bovo-Tighe coaches, to strengthen habits of personal accountability and grow leadership competencies.
Year Three completed the formal part of the leaders’ development, cementing habits gained
- Foundations of Leadership Excellence workshops embedding as habits Bovo-Tighe themes of “Pursuit of Truth,” “Unshakable Trust,” and “Communication that Counts”
- Continued work with mentoring pairs.
- Community service work to test new skills in different settings
The organization has tracked the progress of program graduates for the last decade, finding that program participants performed at a higher level than non-participants (all other factors held constant.) They have been promoted faster, fostered more innovation, and responded to crises and change more productively.
The mentoring pairs were asked to evaluate ROI for the program. They put hard-dollar estimates against:
- The increasing efficiency of their own work
- Ideas and collaborations that they fostered or championed that led to measurable improvements in efficiency and effectiveness
- The improved outcomes of the work of the people and teams they managed
Combining and vetting these reports provides a conservative but measurable annualized ROI of 1500% – generating over $100 million in cost savings, process improvements, maintenance and safety incident reductions, and a range of other gains, over the ten-year period.
In addition, the groups’ solutions were adopted by other operating units, so overall program ROI was well above the direct outcomes we could measure for this leadership development program.
The organization expects the ROI to continue. Participants built career-long and lifelong relationships with fellow participants, creating a cohesive new group of leaders who are highly engaged, highly engaging, and who make it a priority to collaborate and innovate as a core responsibility.