Australian Financial Review (09/26/12) Nickless, Rachel
Susan Peters is a vice-president at GE who oversees its leadership development worldwide. She says organizations should not completely stop using face-to-face training. “It’s tempting to go virtual because it’s less expensive by a lot, but learning from each other is as significant as learning from the content,” she says. Even when the global financial crisis hit, GE’s global training budget remained comparatively stable at approximately US$1 billion annually, Peters says.
GE recently hired a historian, a physicist, an entrepreneur in his 20s, and other external individuals to determine what leadership skills are needed in amid today’s globalization and financial instability. Additionally, 30 of the company’s leading executives visited roughly 100 different institutions to learn about leadership qualities, including the Chinese Communist Party school, the Boston Celtics basketball team, and the US Air Force Academy. The findings were incorporated into new ways of training, such as an increased focus on “intact teams,” where teams that work normally work together take part in week-long training sessions. This could include a general manager and the international team that reports to them, including sales, marketing, human resources and legal professionals, says Peters. GE also is encouraging the increased use of left and right brain thinking via creative workshops involving things like cooking, performing, or painting, she says. Managers who assess attendees before and after training say results have been positive, Peters says, adding that “after they do the creative workshop they learn to respect the skills or perspectives of people in the group.”