Executive development

Management is all about making good decisions and realising them with the aid of competent employees. Executive development has a knock-on effect within an organisation because good managers create even better employees.

Executive development aims to change behaviour

Something has to happen. Unless participants change the way they act and make decisions, executive development is of little value. Understanding connections and the opportunity to incorporate one’s own experiences in the system are important elements in this change process. Success is defined by whether the executives’ changed behaviour is noticed and produces results.

Executive development and strategy

The defined change requirements must be rooted in the company’s strategy. After all, management is about putting strategic choices into practice. The process content will therefore have to be tailored to the changes that are needed in order to implement the company’s strategies.

Focusing on relations

It is important to handle human relations in the company. We therefore have to focus on how the individual executive interacts with his/her surroundings, and we have to turn the spotlight on personality and behaviour. We have to train executives in seeing themselves and their employees, and we have to give them the tools to act on the basis of what they see. As we see it, this focus on relations must be strategically rooted.

We want executives to handle relations with a view to implementing strategies, which means that there is a limit to how person-focused we become. When personal self-interest in studying oneself and one’s behaviour goes beyond the level that is necessary to achieve the business’s goals, we leave it to other competent providers such as psychologists and therapists outside the scope and budget of the programme.

Focus on business understanding

Executives have the authority to make decisions that affect the business’s results. It is therefore vital that they have a basic understanding of how value is created in the business. It is surprisingly rare for such understanding to be widespread at corporate level. Most executives are focused their own unit achieving its targets and do not see how this relates to other units achieving their targets, thereby ensuring the company’s results. This usually leads to suboptimisation and an inability to make good decisions in critical situations. We consider it important to provide executives with the general understanding they need of how value is created in the company. This is an effective tool for increasing the bottom line and it is highly motivating for individuals to see how they contribute in a broader context.

Interactive format

The participants in an executive development programme are not empty boxes waiting to be filled up with knowledge. We know that they are full of experience, knowledge and opinions when they arrive, and we encourage them to use all that and share it throughout the programme.

We believe that new insight comes from the old coming up against new ideas. When the new ideas are recognised as being more applicable and useful that the old, new insight has been gained. When this subsequently results in new ways of acting, learning has taken place. This happens in a constant dialogue between old ideas, a person’s own experience and new ideas. The new ideas do not always win, and that is as it should be.

The dialogue itself makes the participants aware and so may well lead to old ideas becoming better rooted. Bringing this dialogue about is a crucial success criterion for a good executive development programme. This is one of the things we are truly best at.

Varied learning

A good executive development programme has to use a wide range of tools to ensure that everyone keeps up. Some people learn best by hearing, others by seeing and others still by moving about.

We mark out the models on the floor and let the participants physically wander about in them while they share experiences relating to the models.

We take them out into stimulating environments, whether a monastery or a slum, in order to experience physically what we discuss in the classroom.

We give them research-based articles to read, work on cases and get them to focus on challenges in their own company. All this and much more is done in order to ensure that the approaches lead to change in participants’ own management practice and better results for the company.

Internal vs. external resources

A bespoke programme is a combined effort involving a company’s internal resources and our external resources. The company’s finance director, for example, can explain the financial control systems and success criteria used in the business.

Our resources will be able to create understanding of why these are good solutions or challenge them and suggest new ways of thinking based on the latest research in the field. Subsequent discussions will give rise to new awareness and sometimes change company practice.

Organisational effects and time

It takes time for the effects to be felt at corporate level. Individual executives can change and there will be a knock-on effect in their departments, but willingness to change and competence need to reach a certain critical mass before the impact is felt at a senior level. Perseverance and consistency are therefore an important part of executive development. In large concerns it often makes sense to stick to a main message in executive development for several years so that it takes root in the company and brings about change.

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