“As a result of the experience, I am more likely to pick up the phone and call a colleague to solve a problem.”
– Program Participant

When your organization works in 145 countries, your leaders must be able to collaborate across geographies, cultures and organizational boundaries.

IB senior leaders in The Hague collaborate using a color-blind experiential activity.

That’s why the International Baccalaureate (IB) asked the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) to design a leadership development program to help its senior leaders work with each other and their teams more effectively.

The IB is a 45-year-old organization that supports schools and teachers implementing the renowned International Baccalaureate curriculum. The organization, whose programs serve students ages 3 to 19, helps prepare students to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. It’s already serving more than one million students in almost 4,500 programs, but it aims to more than double that impact by reaching 10,000 programs by 2020.

That goal, and the geography-and culture-spanning nature of the IB, makes it critical that senior leaders are deeply competent at working with people – internally and externally, across borders and boundaries.

“One must have a deep cultural awareness and respect for differences in an organization like the IB,” says Jeffrey Beard, the organization’s director-general and top executive.

Doug Sessions, head of Global Professional Development and Business Development, says that IB chose CCL for leadership training because of its reputation, its nonprofit status and similar values.

CCL’s Leadership Beyond Boundaries team designed a two-day program for IB’s top 100 leaders, divided into three cohorts. Through 360 assessments, the FIRO-B® and other tools, they gained new insights about themselves and their colleagues. They also learned techniques for spanning boundaries within IB that could, otherwise, inhibit collaboration and communication. Participants say the program has changed the way they work, and the way they work together.

Sessions, who went through the program in Singapore in October 2012, says, “As a result of the experience, I am more likely to pick up the phone and call a colleague to solve a problem.”

Sarah Thomson, IB’s head of Talent, helped lead the effort internally to deliver and support the Leadership Effectiveness Program.

Among other benefits, Thomson said the program led her to meeting some of her colleagues face-to-face for the first time and solidifying common ground and purpose with them — keys to working effectively together. It has also helped her focus and be more strategic in her day-to-day work.

“From a practical perspective, I’m more realistic in my expectations of what is achievable in a working day; I’m blocking out more time for strategic work and being more selective about which meetings I say yes to,” she says.

IB has continued to call on CCL for leadership training.

As a result of the positive feedback from participants, the IB held a Global Leadership Conference at The Hague in April that brought together all 100 leaders in one place to help map out the organization’s future.

It is now key to enhance the IB’s human capital and strengthen the IB’s leadership capabilities as well as invest in the IB’s soft infrastructure.

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