A rapidly growing fintech unicorn noticed that employees, managers, and leaders were so honed in on working quickly in their specific domain that developing a shared understanding of organizational norms and leadership development were falling by the wayside. There was limited opportunity or built in time to reflect on how folks worked together, collaborated, or communicated — which had a negative trickle down effect.
We came in to help leaders take a step back and think intentionally about the culture they wanted to create and the steps they would need to take to get there. We wanted to focus on key components like effective communication and psychological safety and hoped that if leadership adopted these mindsets and ways of thinking they would be able to transfer that learning to their teams.
How We Did It
We started by developing a monthly workshop session with department heads and members of the c-suite. Workshops focused on defining leadership and management, using a dilemma protocol to explore problems of practice, and building psychological safety to create effective and efficient teams. The workshops were collaborative spaces where cohorts of 15-20 people could reflect and work together.
But we didn’t just want these workshops to be a prescriptive learning experience. We wanted to create the sequencing and scaffolding necessary for the leaders to become the owners and creators of this community of practice. So we had participants bring in real problems and issues they faced and helped them apply a number of tools to work through them on their own. We leaned on our knowledge of adult learning and embraced a constructivist approach to the workshops, helping leaders internalize this new knowledge and tools by connecting it to real life.
The overarching goal of the workshops was to build internal capacity while the leaders themselves were learning, and in the process, create a developmentally deliberate organization.
The training at the heart of this work was all about capability-building: we wanted leaders to be able to identify needs and gaps in the organization and have the skills and knowledge to fill them. But alignment was equally important, to ensure that there was cohesion in the leadership’s vision and they were moving in the same direction. Leaders are responsible for building their team’s skills, yet this has to happen in a uniform way across the organization to maximize effectiveness. With these skills and this alignment, leaders were left with the tools they needed to develop more junior leaders and build a stronger culture throughout the organization.