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Developing Emerging Leaders at a Large Public Utility Company


Many of the 800-plus leaders at this large utility company were promoted to leadership roles because of their high productivity and technical competence. What these frontline leaders discovered after being promoted was that the skillsets that made them successful individual contributors did not adequately prepare them to effectively lead people. To address this gap, the company decided to implement a leadership program, Emerging Leaders, for leaders of individual contributors.

Developing frontline leaders to build connection skills and drive team performance.


To begin executing on the Emerging Leader program, five internal learning and development (L&D) facilitators became certified instructors of GP Strategies leadership content. In partnership with GP Strategies, the L&D department delivered the Leading Technical People+ program which accelerates leadership development and introduces frontline leaders to a communication strategy tool to help them have impactful, necessary conversations about topics such as feedback, delegation, change, goal-setting, and resistance. This program was customized and incorporated into the company’s own Leadership Development framework, to make the learning seamless and directly applicable to their unique audience of managers.

On day one of the program, participants learned about our X-Model of Engagement and the importance of trust. The X-Model, core to the program, explains that the company expects maximum contribution from its employees and that employees want maximum satisfaction from their jobs. The leaders explored the role of engagement in driving the performance of their teams.

On day two, participants learned about strategic questioning and active listening. Strategic questioning focuses on the importance of asking both closed- and open-ended questions to gain as much information/input as possible. Since leaders tend to default to closed-ended questions, this content addressed how closed-ended questions may make the employee feel dismissed or not acknowledged. To learn active listening, participants took part in discussion, listening quizzes, and review of the characteristics of a good listener and the three stages of active listening.

A few weeks after participating in the initial program days, the leaders were led through a number of training modules.

DELEGATION | Participants learned that delegation is a two-way process and walked through a Delegation Planning Guide to help them determine what and to whom they should delegate.

INFLUENCING OTHERS | This module helped participants understand who they have to influence and the different ways to influence them.

SETTING GOALS | This module ensured participants understand how to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound (SMART) goals so that they can set them with their direct reports and link them to the big picture.

MANAGING CHANGE | Participants engaged in discussions and activities focused on the types of change, the characteristics of change, and the leader’s role in helping their teams through the stages of change.

HANDLING RESISTANCE | Participants reviewed the Resistance Roundabout as a strategy to effectively handle resistance. The roundabout focuses on open, respectful dialogue, providing context and details for working together and sharing perspectives.

INSPIRING INNOVATION | Participants learned a different method of brainstorming that gives everyone (including introverts and internal processors) the ability to contribute ideas.

LEADING TEAMS | The Focus, Outcomes, Resources, Commitment, Execution (FORCE) model is used to help identify what’s going well on an existing team and where the challenges are. Attendees engaged in a group flipchart activity where they determined which aspect of the FORCE model is their strongest.

In all, 15 executive leaders supported the Emerging Leaders program by sharing their leadership philosophies, tips, and challenges in guest speaker roles. Each of the 21 cohorts had the opportunity to interact with at least one or two of the executive speakers


Since completing the Emerging Leaders program with their respective cohorts, 36 graduates of the program were promoted to leader-of-leaders positions.

A performance analysis of Emerging Leaders graduates indicates that 98% of leaders who successfully completed the Emerging Leaders program scored as “effective” or above on their performance reviews. More than 50% of Emerging Leaders graduates scored as “exceeds” or “exceptional” on their performance reviews.

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