Leaders as Teachers

Yesterday's New Jersey Organization Development Network meeting, hosted at NJIT in Newark, featured a presentation by Ed Betof, Chief Learning Officer at Becton Dickinson (BD) called "Leaders as Teachers: Building Organizational Capability at BD."

Becton Dickinson, a 107 year old medical technology and biosciences company based in northern NJ with operations around the globe, started a new approach to leadership development about four years ago. The new approach was driven by a new business strategy which emphasized three broad goals:
1.top-line growth through product innovation
2.bottom-line growth through operational effectiveness
3.and organizational capabilities growth through leadership development

BD did not define leader by level. Rather, they defined a "leader" as anyone in BD who has the opportunity to affect one or more of the three growth goals, and who can contribute to BD's Three Greats: great performance, great contributions to society, and great place to work.

Central to BD's approach to leadership development is utilizing BD's leaders as teachers. In the past 4 years, over 500 BD employees worldwide have been trained as teachers and are conducting a host of classes, most instructor-led but many in the growing area of e-learning.

There are many opportunities for using leaders as teachers including technical training classes, management training, facilitating meetings, coaching, as well as "lunch and learn" seminars.

The power of this approach should not be underestimated. Using leaders as teachers has many benefits including:
- Leaders become better leaders, coaches, and communicators as a result of teaching, and the coaching they receive.
- Improves retention of key talent.
- Leaders hear from members of the organization they may not normally interact with, thereby getting important perspectives on needs.
- Strengthens organizational alignment with business goals.
- Leaders give input to the design, and improvement, of training programs.
- Management gets a look at their leaders and the leadership potential that resides at deeper levels in the organization.
- Breaking down silos between functional areas.
- Changing the overall culture to one of learning, knowledge sharing, and innovation.

Added Note May 6, 2008: See this short video on BD's program.


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