Engaging and retaining high-potential leaders through a customized 6-month program

“This program consisted of both millennials and seasoned professionals – all of whom this company wanted to retain and grow. I like how the diversity in the group facilitates its own kind of learning. How participants problem solve and collaborate not only with different functions but different ages, ethnicities, lifestyles and points of view – helps everyone see there’s more than one way to getting to a solution. Learning how to nurture and develop diversity of talent is one of the critical leadership challenges of our time.  An engaging cohort program like this is a great way to accomplish multiple objectives at once.”
- SE

$100M health and wellness engagement and technology company with 500 employees; private-equity- owned and driven with very ambitious company goals

Company was losing talented young team members due to ambiguity, high pressure and lack of support and mentoring because many senior leaders either lacked training themselves or were traveling and working remotely

  • Need to develop next-level-down leaders across the company and get them engaged in innovating and shaping the future of the company

  • Need to build polish, communication and influence skills in young leaders with significant responsibility

  • Need to create more clarity and understanding of “how to be” in the company culture

  • Need to teach leaders to navigate a high-pressure sales environment with technology bugs and client service challenges

  • Need to increase cross-functional collaboration to quickly source root cause of issues

From the HR perspective:

“We knew we needed to do something fast to develop a bunch of people. I’d worked with Sherry in the past and she was willing to start where we were. We piloted the first program, it worked, so we kept going. She was easy to collaborate with and participants seemed to get a lot out of the program.”


From the participant pespective:

“This program packed in so much value. We worked on a real-life business problem and had to pretend we were the executive team as we figured out solutions. We had to go talk to 8 people and collect feedback about ourselves. We learned how to influence and present to senior leaders. We made new friends. Listened to visiting speakers. I could go on and on. This NEVER would have happened in our regular day jobs. Plus we could speak completely openly, not worrying about anything getting back to our bosses. I appreciated the authenticity of this program.”

  • Program design & facilitation:  2 cohorts per year of 15 participants each, reaching 120 high potential leaders over 4 years – or 30% of the company

  • Leadership coaching & advising

  • Designed and implemented a highly customized program including individualized feedback, development plans, 1:1 coaching sessions, visiting speakers, senior executive involvement

  • Increased cross-functional collaboration. Participants made many new friends and learned a lot about breadth of company functions

  • Generated creative solutions to business problems; participants were assigned real-time business projects with an executive sponsor and made formal presentations of their recommendations to senior leaders as the capstone of program

  • Brought Joy! Fun! Laughter! to a high-pressure work environment. Showed young leaders they could solve serious business problems without taking things—and themselves—so seriously

© 2019 Sherry Essen

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