Leading Change was initiated by NBBJ in 2001 as a program to foster employees whom the firm identified as potential leaders. Jorge Gomez, a 46-year-old architect in NBBJ's New York City studio, has participated in the program as both a "leader" (an up-and-coming employee) and a coach. So, what makes for an effective leadership program? Gomez offers some pointers.
"You take a survey before Leading Change: 'What's working? What's not working?' It gets personal. 'How do you see Jorge Gomez as a leader?' Everybody thought I had great technical experience that people wanted to tap into, but I needed to become more accessible."
Get out of the office.
"The kickoff is a three-day session at Sleeping Lady, [a nature retreat] about three hours outside Seattle. It's very structured. There are exercises with frank discussions that loosen you up?really heated discussions about what is working and what is not."
Tap into the resources around you.
"There were maybe 40-50 leaders [at the retreat], plus coaches. A lot of the issues we had in the New York studio were happening elsewhere. We weren't alone."
Stay in touch.
"You develop an action plan and [coaches and leaders] check in with a conference call every month or so. The outside consultants get in touch, too. They're the support mechanism for the program. They're vital."
Emphasize transformation over transactions.
"Transformational leadership inspires teams through good and bad times. Transactional leadership is easier. They stress in Leading Change how everybody falls back into the transactional, while transformation is the goal."
Practice what you preach.
"Before, we had one person driving the meeting each week. Now, we take turns."