An Original Approach to Leadership Training

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An original approach to leadership training From: Philippa White perhaps more than any other time in history, employees – especially Millenials – are looking for a more meaningful work experience. Conscious of environmental and other social issues as never before, they struggle with trying to do well but also to do good. This is a challenge to employers, who typically meet this need by supporting social values as a company or go further by allowing employees free time to work on charitable enterprises. However, the job comes first and all good employers offer training in the required marketing skills and, to some extent, leadership. But as all research in this area has shown, the best way of providing leadership training is to experience it in a real setting. Hence the unique advantage of The International Exchange (TIE). TIE was founded with the express purpose of harnessing private-sector skills to social

The experience has a powerful impact on a participant’s leadership skills, increasing their value to their sponsoring organisation. Everyone wins 14 010-017 Ideas & Issues NEW.indd 16

enterprise. How this is done is ingenious and provides benefits to all stakeholders concerned. It works like this: a company wishing to provide genuine leadership training to a potential high flyer nominates the individual to TIE, which matches the individual with a project for a fixed period of time, typically one month. These projects are often in a developing country, which makes the experience that much more effective. The nominee then takes full charge of the project – to clarify its purpose, analyse the barriers and opportunities and set the wheels in motion to accomplish the objective. TIE works with different organisations around the world. The range of causes that have been supported varies from HIV/ AIDS, education, human rights, children’s rights, ecology and the environment, to street children and much more. For many participants, the experience has been transformative: the experience of leading a social project brings personal satisfaction and the

skills employed are of immense benefit to the project. But, importantly, the experience has a powerful impact on the participant’s leadership skills, thereby increasing their value to their sponsoring organisation. Everyone wins. In 2012, WPP’s Fellowship programme sent Dylan Viner, a planning director from JWT New York, to Brazil to work with a street children’s NGO called O Pequeno Nazareno. Its goal is to enable street children to recover from drug addiction and become functioning members of society by supporting them and teaching them skills that could enable them to get a job. But it always struggled with getting companies to hire the young apprentices. After developing a campaign that portrayed the young apprentices and their potential, Dylan got all 21 of them hired for their first job. Four years later they are all still employed. Viner said: “I enjoyed the challenge of searching for insights in a culture I didn’t fully understand, and in a language I

had to detangle. Playing creative – writing ideas and seeing them brought to fruition – and being involved in every stage of the communication process.” However, for a programme like this to be successful, it can’t just stop with the participant’s project, the community or the social initiative. Success is also evaluated on what happens when the professional returns. TIE’s purpose is to help them use their skills and to connect the dots from the experience to their work and company back at home. Alice Hooper, a client service director at Leo Burnett at the time, went to work with a street children’s organisation in Brazil in 2011. Inspired by her TIE experience, she made it her mission to do something to keep that energy going back at home. Along with a colleague, she founded Leo Burnett Change, a specialist division of the Leo Burnett Group dedicated to not-for-profit communications. Change has since been merged with other divisions within the Leo Burnett Group, but one of the first campaigns created by Change, ‘Recipeace’, won the first D&AD White Pencil in 2012. And Change’s first account was a £10m piece of business with Unicef. And, in 2014, Alice won an IPA Women of Tomorrow award for her work with Change. Sarah Baumann, talent strategy director at Leo Burnett, said: “Being part of TIE has been worth every moment for us at Leo Burnett. We are thrilled to discover such an innovative and effective training experience that has the potential to be shaped to meet our objectives and values on both the individual and company level.”

Philippa White is founder and managing director of The International Exchange philippa@ www.theinternationalexchange.

Market Leader Quarter 1, 2017 01/12/2016 09:40