A Culture of Collaboration: Sharing Ideas for the Good of the Organization


As I reflect on all the insightful and thought-provoking sessions at last week’s Learning and Leadership Development Conference in New York City, I’m reminded of several “a-ha” moments throughout the week.  The Human Capital Institute once again rolled out an incredible lineup of speakers, made up of company leaders, best-selling authors, human resources practitioners, and academic pioneers.

The result was an action-packed two days that were not only informative, but also served as a catalyst to bring new ideas back to the workplace.  Whether it was an idea to implement an enterprise-wide social solution or thinking about developing leadership teams through face-to-face peer interaction, one theme was abundantly clear last week:

Collaboration is essential to leadership development and business success.

Here are a few of my own personal highlights from the conference:

Bob Bennett, Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Learning Officer at FedEx kicked off the conference by describing what he’s worked to create at his company: a collaborative talent management approach that leverages assorted skill sets, fosters transformation of employees, encourages cross pollination, attracts the best talent, and allows everyone to reach his or her own greatest potential.  His session was punctuated by some great anecdotes about FedEx employees, their dedication to the company and its customers, and their resulting high levels of engagement, retention and job satisfaction.

Twitter’s Head of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning, Melissa Daimler, gave a memorable presentation that was highlighted by the showing of the Code Class video, chock full of inside jokes and references for tech nerds.  One of the key takeaways from Melissa’s time on stage was her suggestion that companies have to find a blend of employee learning and executive development that fits them and their company.  While the high tech approach may work for some, many others need a high-touch approach.  For the record, Twitter is striving to focus on collaborative, experiential learning for its employees.

“You can’t become in 30 seconds what you haven’t been in 30 years.”  These sage words of advice came from Thomas Kolditz, Brig. General (ret), U.S. Army when he spoke about leadership in crisis.  Likening leadership in extremis to a car company advertising crash ratings (i.e. how do you perform when it’s most critical?), Kolditz outlined a framework for leaders to successfully lead their organizations through a time of crisis.  He also shared insights based on psychological profiling on what employees really want from their leaders in crisis situations (hint: courage was not at the top of the list).

Vistage shared some brand new research that we conducted with the Human Capital Institute this year in an interactive session that focused on measuring the effectiveness of collaborative executive development.  Michael Molina, Chief HR Officer for Vistage International, presented alongside Henry Hardin III, Founder and CEO of SCI Companies, and gave great insight into the latest research buoyed by firsthand accounts of their experience with peer-based executive development methods.

The common thread for many of the presentations was collaboration, as most companies are really starting to understand the need to foster a culture that supports the sharing of ideas across teams and across the organization.

There were certainly many more memorable moments from the conference, as noted by many of the attendees on Twitter (#hcievents).  If you were there, what were your favorite moments?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

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