Making Leadership Personal

By Reardon, Nancy | Talent Development, March 2011 | Go to article overview

Making Leadership Personal


Reardon, Nancy, Talent Development


At Campbell, we strive to inspire our people to achieve extraordinary results. In my experience, reaching extraordinary heights requires a personal commitment. This is especially true of top leaders, which for us means our global leadership team of 350 leaders from around the world. Put simply: No one has ever achieved extraordinary success without a personal commitment to the work--whether an athletic activity, artistic endeavor, or business enterprise.

Like many companies, Campbell provides employees with the opportunity to sharpen their skills through classes. Our efforts are organized within Campbell University. Classes range from finance, marketing, and other functional areas, to how to bring our leadership model to life and the business benefits of diversity and inclusion. But creating a sustainable leadership-based culture requires more.

Beyond the classroom, Campbell offers a unique development opportunity: The CEO Institute is a two-year, mission-driven program focused on personal leadership development for both aspiring and seasoned managers in our organization, who are ready to take their leadership skills to a new level.

Currently, we are in the middle of our third CEO Institute. Each class has had between 20 and 24 members composed of a cross-section of the company. Participants represent different geographies, business units, and functions. Highly rated talent from across the organization are eligible for the program based on their performance and their potential to contribute at an even higher level in the future.

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Candidates are nominated by their business unit president or functional leader. The nomination process is an outcome of Campbell's organization resource planning process. As the title implies, the CEO Institute is led by our CEO, Doug Conant, and his collaborator, Mette Norgaard. I and members of our learning and development staff manage the program and provide ongoing support to the participants.

Some people are fortunate to be born with a skill or talent. Some develop gregarious personalities and are naturally extroverted--Es on the Myers-Briggs personality indicator. Others are introverts and gain strength from focusing inward--Is in Myers-Briggs parlance. While some people may be predisposed to leadership, the notion of a born leader is rare. While leading comes easier to some than others, inspired leadership requires effort.

With the CEO Institute, Campbell provides participants with the opportunity to fully develop their leadership abilities. We give them the resources and the framework to explore a broad range of leaders from different walks of life and, most importantly, the time required to realize their full potential and apply this knowledge to their responsibilities at Campbell.

Why a CEO institute?

Campbell's mission is to build the world's most extraordinary food company by nourishing peoples' lives everywhere, every day. To accomplish this, we need to cultivate a cadre of world-class leaders who can deliver business results today and also steer the organization into the future. It's about today and tomorrow.

With the CEO Institute, we strive to create the most meaningful leadership experience participants have ever had. To do this, we've created an environment conducive to personal exploration and also provided the timeframe to absorb and reflect on a variety of inputs, including a variety of feedback mechanisms. For example, we incorporate feedback through surveys, such as the 7 Habits and our employee engagement survey that we conduct through Gallup.

Delivering a truly meaningful leadership experience can't be achieved in a half-day off-site course or through a series of classroom assignments. Through the program, we give our best and brightest the gift of time. There are few periods in a career when you actually have the time to reflect, process, and apply changes, especially deeply personal ones such as leadership. …

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