Getting to Great: NM’s Leader Readiness Journey

by Emily Mason, Jullie Ariens

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Strategic Opportunity:
Northwestern Mutual is undergoing a transformation requiring changes in how we work and how we lead. To ensure people leaders would be successful in driving this change, NM needed to rethink their approach to developing them as well. With over 1000 corporate people leaders and an industry ripe for disruption, both scale and speed posed a challenge which NM rose to meet.

What we will explore together:
To equip all 1000 leaders with adaptive skills, NM developed an experiential program to align mindsets and build the capabilities needed to effectively lead others through complex transformation.

The series of 4 in-person experiences allowed for practical application in-session of key concepts coupled with deliberate practice between experiences. App-based nudges provided reminders, embedded the learning and allowed for insights to ensure application.

Post-program, working horizontally, and sharing knowledge and perspectives has emerged as one of the most powerful ‘collateral’ impacts of the program. To reinforce adaptive leader capabilities, key program concepts are embedded into all leader development, including leader playbooks and everyday communications.

Lessons Learned:

  • NM’s long-standing “leaders as teachers” philosophy multiplied exponentially; trust strengthened when senior leaders show they were testing-and- learning alongside everyone else
  • Bring HR Business Partners along for the ride to extend and reinforce learnings along the way
  • Leadership happens in moments; focusing on practical application builds habits over time
Emily Mason
Latest posts by Emily Mason (see all)
Emily Mason
Latest posts by Emily Mason (see all)
Jullie Ariens
Latest posts by Jullie Ariens (see all)

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