Talent management teams know the importance of cultivating future company leaders from within. And they know that to cultivate strong leaders, those leaders require training and education. The challenge, of course, is that traditional leadership training – featuring in-person workshops or classes – are limited in terms of scope. Due to cost and logistics, only select employees can participate.
That’s a problem the Leadership Development Team at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings Limited set out to solve in late 2019: How can leadership development be delivered at scale?
“We want formal programs for a junior middle senior leadership program, and we very fortunate to have a specialist leadership program, a foundational leadership program, executive leadership programs, but it only reaches 550 leaders, and we are an organization of almost 17,000 people. If we do a headcount of that, it brings us to about 5,000 leaders,” said Chantel Van Der Westhuizen, Chief Learning Officer for Momentum Metropolitan. “How do we make it accessible to everyone without paying so much for content and libraries?”
The Leadership Development Team at the South Africa-based firm knew they had opportunity to deliver relevant, quality information to more people by leveraging technology and digitization. Informational resources weren’t a problem; the team knew that there was an abundant amount of content available online that could help leaders learn and grow.
An idea cropped up to create a site that would allow for curated leadership-related content, with suggested readings and videos based on a leader’s interests, industry trends and needs. Inspired by online video streaming services, Momentum Metropolitan launched “LeaderFlix.” The site was opened to all Momentum Metropolitan employees – not just leadership or leadership candidates – and delivered a self-curated content library with videos, TikToks and journal articles on a variety of topics that are relevant to employees and company leadership.
Van Der Westhuizen said LeaderFlix delivers on the talent management team’s goal of providing leadership training on a wide scale.
“You don’t have to wait to be nominated for a formal program that can cost an excess of (thousands) and take 8-10 months,” she said. “It didn’t cost us a lot. It was leadership that we had to build.”
Delivering meaningful content to company leaders and potential leaders
While the Leadership Development Team knew they had an idea with a potential for great impact on leadership growth, they had a lot of work ahead of them in terms of finding the right platform and technology to bring relevant, curated content before employees and in determining the right set of content for employees.
“We were challenged, really challenged, in terms of the platform,” said Helga Shaney, Learning and Development Programme Manager. “We did a lot of trial and error in terms of how we make this platform work in terms of the front-end user and give people access any time, anywhere from whatever advice they were at.”
To find the right content, the Leadership Development Team tuned in to industry trends in leadership education and employee wellness. More importantly, Van Der Westhuizen said, they conducted employee “heartbeat” surveys to determine how the organization is doing within different units and to gauge what types of information and training employees at all leadership levels are searching for.
“A lot of the themes we got from those surveys told us what the leaders were struggling with,” Van Der Westhuizen said.
In addition to finding the right content and the right platform, the team also had to connect with other department, such as IT, for assistance, discover ways to package the content to make it easily accessible and navigable and market the site to employees. As the site launched the team knew they had put together a product that met employee needs: In the first week, the site saw 10,500 hits, and its numbers would only grow from there.
Finding increased relevance during the pandemic
As LeaderFlix launched and began to catch employees’ attention, something happened that would hit home the importance of having leadership training and education available from anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown had employees in a variety of locations looking for information that would help them succeed in unfamiliar territory.
“We were running face-to-face programs, COVID came, and we had to shift quite rapidly inot the virtual landscape. In most cases, one would think, you were leading people, how do you shift that to a vitual landscape,” said Farzana Dawood, Momentum Metropolitan’s Group Leadership Development Specialist. “What we found is there was a great sense of trepidation with some leaders to say I’m not sure how to lead virtually I’m really stuck.
“People were hungry to grow and learn and understand, and they didn’t know what to do.”
At the same time, like most businesses, Momentum Metropolitan’s leadership team was being hit with a lot of information about how to lead and manage through the pandemic with a significant portion of the workforce working remotely, said Marlise Viljoen, Head of Leadership and Management Development.
“When we went into lockdown, suddenly we were bombarded with a lot of digital content from vendors and business schools. We were wondering how we might leverage that and curate that,” Viljoen said. “How do we package it and make sense of it for our leaders so they can just pull on it when they need it?”
With LeaderFlix, the Leadership Development Team was able to do just that: deliver the information employees were looking for the help them navigate a difficult situation, both professionally and personally. The extra demand for a service like LeaderFlix helped the site gain even more traction. Visits to the site continued to grow, and employees began coming forward to request content, and the Leadership Development Team was asked to host special content areas, such as a Women in Leadership sections.
“We were starting to get approached by the business areas: This is already something that works so well, can we add something,” Viljoen said. “People started talking about it.”
As employees and company leaders reached out to request content, and as the Leadership Management Team started hearing buzz about LeaderFlix at company meetings, it became clear that the site had become a meaningful part of the company’s leadership resources, Viljoen said.
Expanding on the success of LeaderFlix
Dawood credits LeaderFlix’s success to the work that the Leadership Management Team did to ensure content was targeted to employees’ needs, to find and develop technology that made information attractive and easy to find and to open the site to all employees of the organization, not just leadership.
“I think it was a wise decision at the end to offer this to everyone in the organization because of the hunger at the time. Everyone bounced at the opportunity,” Dawood said. “We had to go through a whole process of understanding the technology of what could work, and we were lucky to get the right people together that we were able to pull this off and it was a great success in the end.”
In addition to being recognized by the Best Practice Institute, the LeaderFlix initiative was recognized by Metropolitan Momentum’s Spirit of Excellence Awards, one of the company’s highest honors.
The Leadership Development Team isn’t resting on what’s been done with LeaderFlix thus far. LeaderFlix 2.0 is currently under development, and the team regularly updates LeaderFlix’s educational videos and articles to continue to offer relevant and timely information to employees.
The team also is looking at how to best integrate LeaderFlix into Metropolitan Momentum’s corporate culture. The information on the site is being aligned with corporate aims, Van Der Westhuizen said, and LeaderFlix 2.0 will be used it to help mold the company’s culture in meaningful ways. The team also plans to formally survey employees about LeaderFlix to discover how they can better use the site to help employees grow.