Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Taking career turns to the next level

By
Deborrah M. Himsel, Eller Executive Education academic director

If you take the most successful leaders of any industry and you map their career trajectories backwards, you’ll see a series of “turns” where they deepened and expanded their skills to prepare for the next level.  This is described in the well-known “Leadership Pipeline,” which illustrated this upward climb in  six passages bringing them from individual contributors to enterprise managers.

Knowing this  trajectory is important, but moving along the pathway, or developing talent along these pathways, requires more than simple awareness. It also requires opportunity.  While it’s possible to wait for these types of opportunities to arise, for many rising stars — those talented team members with great potential — accelerating their development is necessary.

The Emerging Leaders Program is designed for exactly this purpose.  We have developed a program that brings together talent from across the industry to take part in an intense learning experience while also creating high stakes in a competitive environment.  We use a sophisticated simulation that is the only program of its kind that mirrors the produce and floral industry,  reflective of industry risks and trends. The program allows participants to apply the knowledge they’re learning in classroom sessions s while collaborating with fellow participants in highly competitive teams.

 For our graduates, the program offers the high stakes and real world experience without the risk.  This means that when it is time for that up and coming leader to take that turn into their next role, they’ll have experience to draw from and a growing network of leaders from across the supply chain. 

The power of a program like this, at this critical point of a leader’s career, is not only in the individual experiences that each leader will have, but also the growing cohort of leaders with this same meaningful background.  In the history of the program we have seen 371 graduates. Those graduates come from many different points of the supply chain and many have gone on to take senior level roles in their companies.   There are past participants, especially those from family-owned companies, that are even running their companies now since the program began 11 years ago. 

In that time, the program has evolved as the industry has matured and become more sophisticated in its management practices.  When we began the program over a decade ago, there were participants coming from companies without HR leaders or formal training programs.  The more that the industry has invested in the programs like the Emerging Leader Program, the more that leaders are accelerating their skill development and relevant business experiences.  They are also becoming better mentors and managers to incoming talent behind them. 

We have quite a number of ELP graduates that are now mentors in the Management Fundamentals for Young Professionals program.  Not only does this “paying it forward” of development benefit the talent new to the industry but it gives ELP graduates another outlet to practice their own people development skills.  The mentoring for these graduates continues to grow and it’s another way for these leaders to feel ownership of the program – strengthening it as an industry resource. 

As someone who has been involved in the program from the beginning, I can’t say enough about the energy, dedication and commitment that these participants bring to their program.  The culture that they build within the experience, and within their network, is very energetic. The simulation experience is challenging, but it’s also really fun.  These are people who love the work they do, and they are ready to take the next step in their careers.  Mastering “the turns” or moving a leader from one level to the next of the Leadership Pipeline can be difficult when you consider that people are learning new skills, building on those they’ve mastered, and taking on new responsibilities with more risk. If you don’t master the skills when you first start managing people — you’re going to have trouble every step of the way.  This program ensures that the first time a promising leader manages people or needs to tap into strategic thinking or financial acumen, isn’t happening on their first day in a new role. 

The program also provides companies with a way to show that they’re invested in their team.  As everyone is worried about retention and turnover, investing in the development of your team by encouraging them in a program like this means that you’ll be more likely to see them using those skills in your company and not a different one. 

While many of our leaders come in with a clear path forward in their mind, others may be less clear about where they’re headed.  But if your company is clear that you want to invest in your team member, you will get that return tenfold.

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -