About a year ago, Springthrough’s President, Jeff Williams, approached me with a new idea. He wanted to implement a leadership development program - something where team members could learn about themselves, learn about each other, and learn how to be valued leaders. Being our organization’s Controller (“the money guy”), my first instinct was to push back due to the cost.
The program was not going to be cheap. As an analytical and data-driven person, I do not like spending our firm’s money without a tangible return on investment (ROI). As far as I could tell, a leadership development program does not have a quantifiable ROI. Despite my concerns, we went forward with establishing our firm’s program. I was assured that it would be worth the investment, and a year later, I am happy that we followed through with the program. I see several impactful benefits, which justify the cost. I see an appreciation amongst the participants, new soft skills, and a improved channels of communication.
Soft Skills for Leadership
A good leader deeply understands their personal drivers. Our leadership program helped participants become more self-aware - myself included. Each participant took a StrengthsFinder test and examined the meaning behind our results. In the following months, we discussed the results as a team, reflecting on our strengths and how we could put ourselves in positions to thrive. In contrast, we discussed each “basement” or “dark side” of the strength, and how we can avoid them. For example, responsibility is one of my dominant strengths. On the “dark side” of responsibility is a willingness to take on more than you should. Our leadership program taught me that it is okay to say no to new responsibilities, which has allowed me to focus more on the high value activities associated with my role.
Appreciation and Goodwill
From a financial perspective, it is expensive to seek out new talent, and there is always risk when trying to replace experienced staff. Those who have participated in Springthrough’s leadership development program have a sense of appreciation for the opportunity. We understand that the firm is investing in our personal and professional development, and we feel more loyal to the firm. I expect that we will see better retention amongst participants. Of course, some of our leadership program participants will someday take jobs elsewhere. But by providing high-value opportunities, we build ambassadors for our firm – whether or not they continue to work for Springthrough.
Our leadership development participants consisted of a Project Manager, Development Manager, our VP of Architecture, Manager of IT Services, our Manager of Talent, and myself. The program was intentionally structured to include leaders from each segment of our organization. Since beginning the program, lines of communication have improved, and we are more open and honest with each other. In a perfect world, communication would be easy. In reality, it takes time to develop trust with our coworkers to achieve effective communication. Through our time in the leadership program, the participants built trust amongst each other. We also communicate better when we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Our clients invest a lot of time and money into their projects with Springthrough, so when we improve internal communication, we actually improve the client experience as well.
We contracted with Abbey Coaching to lead us through the Leadership Development program.
We worked with Abbey Coaching (which I would highly recommend) to design our leadership program in phases. The first phase of the program focused on self-awareness, communication, and team building. In March, we are beginning the second phase. We will emphasize successful completion of individual goals, developing organizational stability, and synergies amongst team members. After that, we may move into a third phase that continues our legacy as leaders. Later this year, we also hope to start a new cohort of team members to begin phase one. I am excited to see how the program continues to develop and bear fruit for Springthrough, even if does make me spend extra money in the process.