Leadership Development: What’s on the Horizon?

By Phil Key, CEO

One of the factors that defines a company’s success and longevity is the capabilities of its leaders and the trust that the team has in those leaders. Developing strong leaders at all levels results in better decision making, stronger communication, more engaged teams, and greater innovation. Our investment in leadership development began in the 1980s when we worked with a trainer, whose name you may recognize from our Clyde Vadner Merit Award. Clyde, who was a trainer with Kraft Associates/ODA, helped us lay the foundation for training that still drives us today. From those early days, our in-house management training program has grown to include New Field Manager Orientation, KASH (Knowledge/Attitude/Skills/Habits), Recruiting and Selecting, Management Development Days and most recently our Spanish Leadership Development Course. We incorporated these management training sessions into our comprehensive training program, which already encompassed skills development, safety training, and specialized divisional and operational training that our team members undergo throughout their careers. As an organization, we’ve become stronger and more dynamic, and as managers, our proudest moments are often getting to see employees make use of what they’ve learned and advance in their careers.

As we’ve grown, we recognized the importance of providing advanced leadership training for our executive leadership team and have made the investment to have several members of that team attend Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management (OPM) leadership program. We wanted to expand that learning to include our branch, region, and corporate managers. To that end, we have just created what we’re calling our Partner Leadership Development Program. Our new leadership coaches, Shawn Wolf and Gib Mason, will be helping us strengthen the relationships within this level of our leadership team, enabling us to broaden our skills as we continue to grow and evolve as a company. The goal of these classes is to build on several core competencies including developing people, communicating clearly, thinking strategically, collaborating, strengthening relationships, creating accountability, motivating and inspiring, and building high-performing teams. In these sessions, our managers will be working together to define and tackle Ruppert-specific opportunities and challenges, which will be a valuable exercise as we grow.

There will be 64 people attending this training, broken down into four groups. The groupings have been made to ensure that we have a good mix of tenure, division, department, and position—all of which will ensure that we spread our experience, knowledge, and skills equally in each group for a more comprehensive discussion. From beginning to end, this will be a three-year commitment for each group, with approximately eight in-person group sessions each year, one-on-one coaching sessions, retreats, and work prior to and during the sessions. Group one will begin in fall of 2023, with the remaining three groups starting at the same time in 2024, 2025, and 2026.

Nurturing leaders who can guide our organization through transitions, make strategic decisions, foster innovation, manage change, and develop our teams is essential. The investment in this group of leaders is one that we know will pay off quickly, as they share and implement what they’ve learned with their teams. Our ongoing commitment to training and development at all levels of our organization has been instrumental to our growth, and we are pleased to be sharing this next iteration of that training for our leadership team. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impact this has on our teams as we all work together to build an even stronger, dynamic organization.