Robert Plummer of Rolls-Royce Corp. had a set of expectations going into Leadership Development for Human Resource Professionals – that it would offer an intensive view of how to better deliver change messages to the organization and how to align leaders. And that turned out to be true, though not exactly in the way he had anticipated.
Plummer has been with his organization for 19 years, beginning fresh out of graduate school when the company, which designs and manufactures aircraft, industrial and marine engines, was a division of General Motors. Rolls-Royce acquired the company in 1995.
“Before going to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), it had been awhile since I had been to a professional development program,” Plummer said. “I aspired to learn more about myself and how I might be a more effective leader of change.”
This in-depth program emphasizes the larger and more strategic roles played by HR professionals today. CCL’s trademark assessment and feedback are combined with learning modules and experiential exercises that zero in on the skills and behaviors needed to become organizational leaders and more effective managers of people and processes. “And in every case,” Plummer noted later, “the program brings it back to how it’s relevant to you and the work situation.”
During the week, the class participated in a business simulation organized around an outdoor orientation, and for Plummer it was a moment of truth. “My group appointed me to be CEO, and we’re all competitive folks – we thought it was about taking the hill!
“I formed a team of those people I felt were the best at pulling together the business plan. We huddled in a conference room for two hours and left everyone else in the lurch as to our thinking and plans. We did a very good job of structuring the business plan and a plan to break the activity into manageable tasks, but there was quite a bit of alienation along the way because people felt excluded. It was an experience that became directly translatable to how I behaved at work. What the program offered me was an understanding of how to build alliances, sell my ideas and influence outcomes in a more constructive fashion.”
Soon after completing the program, Plummer was tapped for a number of strategic initiatives within his company. “I deliberately sit down in advance of a meeting and scope out my key thoughts and try to figure out how others will react,” he said. “Before we launch a big initiative, I gather key people and talk it through with them, making sure they’re on board. I’m still passionate about my work and my perspectives, but it’s channeled more appropriately. CCL helped me improve as a leader within the business.”