A year and a half ago, Jean Bustard was at a crossroads. A founder and president of ADA-ES, a growing environmental technologies company, she was part of the senior team looking at acquisitions, creating new structures and leading change.
“I realized I was not as effective as I used to be. It was frustrating to me — and to others,” she says. “Was I capable of growing with the company? Or should we find someone else?”
Bustard turned to CCL, attending the Leadership at the Peak (LAP) program for top-level leaders.
“I wanted to go where I could take a hard look at myself, where the feedback wasn’t sugar coated,” she says. “I needed to see what I was doing and what I could change to be more effective.”
Lorenz Gross also attended LAP at a pivotal point in his career. Gross is an international attorney and in-house EMEA corporate counsel with automotive and high-tech supplier Delphi. Last July, he was considering a career move.
“Increasingly, my interests leaned toward the business side, more than a pure legal track,” he says. “Corporate attorneys are, although part of the business, always somewhat on the periphery. I was looking at a possible job change that would put me closer to the heart of the business.”
“Leaders at the top of organizations, like Jean and Lorenz, have such a huge capacity to influence and impact the rest of the organization,” says CCL’s Rich Tallman. “Leadership at the Peak gives them a chance to examine what’s working and what isn’t, and to refocus their leadership efforts to meet their challenges.”
“On a personal level, LAP gives participants a venue to reflect on where they’ve been and what they want to do next,” Tallman adds. “They have permission to think about their careers and personal life and ask, do I have what it takes to get to the next level? And do I want to do what it takes?”
The in-depth and personalized assessments, reflection and coaching — as well as feedback and input from their peers — sets LAP apart from other executive education courses or workshops.
Bustard and Gross experienced clear and powerful feedback about their leadership effectiveness, as well as support and guidance for taking it all in. Along with their fellow executive leaders, they addressed communication and influence skills, the need to sustain health and energy for the work of leadership, and specific action plans for their pressing challenges.
“I certainly learned a lot about myself — how I behave, react and do things — and the impact I have on others,” Gross acknowledges. “And I realized that my career so far has been well-aligned with my interests. The time to reflect on that was very satisfying and valuable.”
Bustard, too, became more mindful of the impact she has on others: “I learned there can be a big difference between my intent and my impact — that was a blind spot for me. Now I pay attention to how people are receiving what I am saying and doing.”
“Another big lesson was to understand that I don’t need to be the only problem-solver,” she added. “My role is to get the rest of the company to be problem-solvers.”
Both Gross and Bustard stayed with their organizations, both have taken on new roles and/or responsibilities, and both credit LAP with providing the clarity and insight to move ahead as leaders.
As for advice to other senior leaders?
“Take time to reflect, know your value, when to step up and when to step back to let others add value,” says Gross. “And be authentic.”
Bustard suggests her peers should be more excited to try new things to improve as leaders. Drawing on her experience as a triathlete, she says:
“I train to be better. I will do anything to make this 56-year-old person faster! Why wouldn’t I try to improve on the job, as a leader, where I spend most of the hours in a day?
“If I tell my runner friends, I got these new shoes and dropped 30 seconds off my time, they would be headed straight to the running store. That’s how it should be with work, too. I should say, I went to this course, I’m more effective now, here’s why — you’ve got to try it. We should talk about what we are doing to be better — and it should be exciting.”
Leadership at the Peak is for leaders of the enterprise. It is designed exclusively for C-level and senior executives in the top three tiers of the organization. To ensure participants have the optimum background to benefit from the program, admission is by application only. Sessions are offered in Colorado Springs, CO, as well as in Switzerland and Singapore.