CCL has been studying leaders and their development for 40 years. Many of our practices have become “tried-and-true” ways to develop leaders and leadership. Here, we highlight ideas, strategies and tactics that we have developed and refined over many years and by working with many thousands of clients.

The Power of Feedback-Intensive Programs

Feedback-intensive programs (FIPs) have been at the heart of CCL’s work for more than thirty-five years. “FIPs have incorporated research on effective leader behaviors and learning processes, affording individuals a deeper understanding of their leadership strengths and development needs, and enabling them to develop action plans to leverage that knowledge for greater effectiveness in their work and personal lives,” write Sara King and Laura Santana in “Feedback-Intensive Programs” in The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development.

The authors describe an FIP as a process that “comprehensively assesses an individual’s personality and leader effectiveness, using multiple tools and perspectives, and presents those data to individuals in a variety of ways that facilitate greater self-awareness and behavior change.”

The specific blend of methodologies, program focus and outcomes will vary, but CCL programs have several common threads. For one, programs are designed to have a supportive learning environment that maximizes interaction among participants and faculty. Unlike leader development programs that focus on knowledge acquisition, using lectures, case studies and discussions, the FIP focuses primarily on self-awareness through a process of active inquiry. It is also holistic, not relying on any one formula for success, but rather helping individuals examine their current situation, revisit their own beliefs, take risks and modify behaviors they decide are not serving them well.

When should you consider attending an FIP or recommending an FIP to others? King and Santana offer these guidelines:

  • When developing the careers of people identified as high potential. Organizations often feel that full and complete assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their future leaders is a worthwhile investment.
  • At a time of career transition—to a new organization, a new role, or new responsibilities in the current job. Integrating feedback from many sources can help a manager recognize that new challenges require additional skills and new behaviors.
  • When someone shows signs of potential derailment. Being passed over for promotion, faltering in performance in normally strong areas, and interpersonal difficulties are all signs pointing to a need for a comprehensive assessment and feedback.
  • When the organization is attempting to blend or change the culture, shift the organization’s strategy, or work with a merger or acquisition. The need for understanding differences, thinking in different terms, and driving change effectively can be accomplished in an FIP.

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