Many people in corporations know CCL as a premier institution for high-touch leadership development. Less well known is CCL’s alternate identity as a catalyst for expanded leadership in developing countries, educational institutions and grassroots communities.

CCL’s Leadership Beyond Boundaries (LBB) effort is actively scaling leadership development to diverse groups around the world, such as NGO leaders in Ethiopia, young people living in India’s slums, orphans in Uganda, entrepreneurs in Chile, public health workers in the Caribbean, and high school and university students in the United States.

LBB’s story is one of innovation. The Center has a mission to advance leadership for the benefit of society worldwide. This mission has always encouraged CCL to push the frontiers of leadership knowledge and practice. In recent years, we’ve considered another frontier — how to extend leadership development to the vast majority of people in the world not traditionally served by leadership development organizations.

Train-the-trainer program in action with local municipality leaders in El Salvador.
Train-the-trainer program in action with local municipality leaders in El Salvador.

With the goal of “democratizing” leadership development, the LBB team had to figure out how to make leadership development more affordable, accessible and scalable. Fueled by this challenge, LBB has become the mechanism for some of CCL’s most innovative and game-changing leadership development practices, according to Lyndon Rego, global director of LBB.

“To break out of our own established way of thinking and working, we partnered with innovation firms IDEO and Continuum and applied the process of design thinking to our challenges,” says Rego. “We learned by going into places and communities with a beginner’s mind — not as experts — to understand the needs and cultures. We became skilled at rapid prototyping, quickly creating and adapting based on what worked.”

Initially, LBB innovation centered on adapting and simplifying core CCL knowledge so it could be presented in low-tech, low-cost and highly portable formats. That work became the backbone of LBB’s Leadership Essential workshops. The second phase of LBB innovation has been co-creation. “We are collaborating with numerous partners to create hybrid solutions,” explains Rego. “We are connecting leadership within the context of other important issues such as empowerment, conflict mitigation and economic development.”

LBB Innovation at Work

A recent partnership between LBB and RTI International in El Salvador is rooted in economic development. Local leaders in 50 municipalities are striving to create economic growth and revitalize local communities. RTI recognized leadership as a crucial piece of the puzzle: How will people work together to set direction and move forward?

Another LBB initiative aims to bring practical leadership advice and support to middle managers in India via mobile devices and a trusted network. Growth in India is astounding; some companies are hiring 20,000 people a year. Middle managers carry the bulk of the responsibility, but have little if any leadership knowledge or experience. Practically and economically, large numbers of emerging leaders can’t be sent off to multiple-day training — but they do need learning and support.

To get at this challenge, LBB worked with a consortium of socially minded organizations to develop a mobile app to help middle managers in the microfinance industry learn from each other and stay connected. “This prototype is helping us to see how to do leadership development in ways that are not dependent on the classroom,” says Rego. “In just three months, we could see that these managers are becoming more inclusive, giving better feedback to direct reports and achieving bottom-line results.”

LBB is firmly expanding the arc of co-creation, as partnerships are added and expanded in the coming year focused on rural development, women’s empowerment and community-building. The tools and lessons that are developed for “new” audiences are also informing CCL’s traditional corporate work. CCL’s newest open-enrollment program, Leadership Fundamentals, was developed for individual contributors and incorporates many of the best practices from LBB’s work with large groups of people who do not have formal leadership roles. The mobile app developed for microfinance managers in India holds potential for time-pressed leaders anywhere.

Meanwhile, Rego has an eye on the third phase of LBB innovation: Growing a movement.

“Leadership development is about building the capacity for people to work collaboratively to enact change — no single group has all the answers or tools or expertise needed,” says Rego. “CCL can do the most to meet the leadership needs of the modern world by working in concert with organizations across the globe. Increasingly, we are a catalyst for a growing movement — one aimed at addressing the big challenges in our world using the lever of leadership.”

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