Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Leader-as-Teacher: A Model for Executive Development Success

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

Leader-as-Teacher: A Model for Executive Development Success

Article excerpt


Critical to the success of any organization is the ability of its leaders to inspire visionary thinking by transferring knowledge throughout the organization in order to develop future leaders. This article discusses how Avnet, a Fortune 300 global computer and electronics company has implemented a Leader-As-Teacher model, explains how it works with the support of guiding metrics, and how it has led to effective and positive executive development. The case study provides a working model which can energize a leadership team across sectors and industries.


Inspiring visionary thinking and transferring knowledge within an organization is critical to its success. By engaging C-level executives in a 'Leader- as Teacher' model, the organization described in this case study will illustrate how it has been able to effect knowledge transfer, increase cross-functional and divisional collaboration, inspire succession management, energize the leadership team, and provide quality time with senior executives in a learning environment. In addition, the 'buy-in factor' from the line units has contributed to a rebirth of commitment and focus on people development. These connections serve multiple purposes, from "role-model" development to career coaching to senior level commitments.

Case Study

The directive from the CEO and the Board of Directors was clear: make employee development and succession management a cultural norm. The rationale for this directive was based in company history. Avnet began as a privately held company just after World War 1 and was incorporated in 1955. Despite its growth, Avnet needed a strong and formalized employee and executive development program. With the goal of increasing Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) while building a values and performance based culture, well equipped and developed leadership was viewed as a key to achieving this success.

The next step was to select the model and the plan. Knowing that we learn best by doing as well as by absorbing knowledge from those who are skilled practitioners, we used in-house subject matter experts (SMEs) as the key developers and deliverers of executive training. At the time, each C-level executive, including the CEO, identified critical success factors in the successful execution of their specialty and developed their own content to be presented. The Organizational Development/ Human Resources Team (OD/HR) assisted by helping these leaders craft their objectives and message. The launch to a small group of key executives was successful and well received.

Today, we have taken this approach to new levels. We have expanded our offerings and added Instructor-led courses designed to drive strategic business imperatives, align with our company's strategic framework, and provided a foundation for a performance and valuesbased culture. As the program has grown, with positive feedback and eagerness to move to the next phase of learning, we have begun offering the second generation of courses. Avnet GOLD (Global Organizational Leadership Development), curriculum includes a course focusing on the financials taught by the CFO. Other courses taught by the CEO and his direct reports include:

* Creating Excellent Customer Service

* Successful Decision Making,

* Public Relations/Mastering the Media

* Succeeding as an Ethical Company

* Strategic Thinking

* Planning and Executing

* Leadership Series (in three modules)

The faculty members for each course include the executive sponsor and/or the SME as well as one of the business unit presidents. For the most part, the courses are team-taught and range between six hours and two days. Avnet's Chairman and CEO Roy Vallee, a key example of leader-as-teacher, instructs executives in a course focusing on the vision for the company and how to achieve it. Most courses are offered at least quarterly at key locations in Europe, Asia, and at Avnet's U. …

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