Driving Growth in a Storm

 -  1/29/11

Lincoln Financial Group's HR team implemented an executive development program to grow and sustain talent during economic crisis and beyond.

This last recession pressured many companies to cut back on investments, reduce staffing levels and restructure operations. Financial services company Lincoln Financial Group was no exception.

In the midst of making decisions about expense reductions, Lincoln CEO Dennis Glass stressed the importance of investing to prepare leaders for the eventual recovery and re-engaging the workforce at a time when many companies would not be focused on talent development. To carry out Glass’ vision, the Lincoln HR team designed a leadership excellence program that would develop the leaders needed to drive Lincoln’s growth in the coming years.

Formalizing the Program
The HR team selected the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to be its partner in creating an executive development program that would provide executives with the tools required to help them achieve their professional potential and move the company forward during one of the most crucial times in the history of the insurance industry.

Professors from Wharton worked with the HR team to design a custom, weeklong residential program, funded by Lincoln, for the company’s top 60 corporate leaders. The program formed the basis of the company’s broad-based enterprisewide development curriculum, which focused on delivering on the CEO’s key goals — that all leaders at Lincoln share a common language and approach to problem solving, collaboration and strategic planning — and integration of three disciplines necessary for the company to flourish: strategic thinking, execution and innovation.

To ensure the program design met the needs of stakeholders, the development team conducted interviews with Glass and his senior management committee and focus groups with the 60 members of Lincoln’s Corporate Leadership Group (CLG) — the program’s targeted participants. The result was an intensive weeklong residency program at Wharton for the CLG, followed by action learning in cross-functional working teams to address critical business projects selected specifically to help the company delve into topics that had the potential to influence strategic direction or investments. Working group members met routinely with Wharton professors to review research findings and scenario planning, culminating in formal presentations and recommendations to Glass and the senior management committee.

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