Why are leadership development schemes important?
Until recently, leadership development schemes had, broadly speaking, taken a backseat. “Leadership development went through a patch where people knew it was really important and talked about how important it was, but there wasn’t a huge evolution in the results it was providing,” Jig explains. He continues that in a post-crash business environment, financial functions were a bit more edgy about where outlay was going. “It became so hard to prove the return on investment that people started to think, let’s take a step back and not spend so much on this,” Jig says.
However, today’s business climate means many firms are looking at leadership development upgrades as a silver bullet. Bloomberg amongst them. It has recently launched a new leadership development framework. Not only does it seek to understand the leadership capability of individuals and the company as a whole – “It can show us where our strengths are; where we need to focus,” Jig explains – it will help the organisation mitigate against macro-sized risk by giving all employees the opportunity to develop their skillsets. It is also hoped that there will be benefits for recruitment and retention, the company’s culture, and the diversity of leadership talent throughout the firm.
Bloomberg’s behavioural framework
Up until this year Bloomberg didn’t have a coherent leadership assessment function. "We had no way of assessing our leaders,” Jig explains. With different metrics to measure leadership performance, across six major business functions, leadership measurement, let alone development, wasn’t aligned. “The data [we had on leadership strengths] wouldn’t tell you a story because the data was measuring different things; it was inconsistent,” he adds. He admits that when the question was asked, What makes a great leader at Bloomberg? – the answer would often be: “Hmmm, I’m not very sure.” This, Jig explains, needed to change.
Bloomberg’s new approach was fronted by a qualitative analysis of what leadership figures at the company believed key leader attributes were. By canvassing leaders across Bloomberg, Jig’s team ensured they weren’t creating a generic top-down programme. They wanted to create a coherent Bloomberg leadership language that came from leaders within the company as well as data highlighting recurring leadership behaviours and themes.
Crucially, the leaders they spoke to were diverse backgrounds. They worked around the globe and were from differing levels of the hierarchy: from the most senior to line managers. “What we found was really interesting,” Jig reveals. “Regardless of who you were, or what type of leader you were, there were six themes that were consistent across the board.” To validate their findings, senior leaders who weren’t interviewed in the original research had the results put to them and asked, are these the characteristics that define leadership at Bloomberg? “You know what,” Jig tells me, “even leaders who hadn’t been with Bloomberg for a long period of time recognised what the data was telling us about the way a leader could be successful at Bloomberg.”
What were the six themes, though? Well, they took the form of behaviours: developing people to achieve, communicating a vision, adjusting the course, creating an inclusive and diverse work environment, networking to get stuff done and spotting gaps in order to seize opportunities. These behaviours were then turned into a framework and learning hub that could be accessed by those wanting to progress as a leader as well as those needing to assess the state of leadership at Bloomberg.