People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 29
content so that it's completely tailored to the company
* Moving with speed and agility. Leaders experience
rapid team formation as they are continually remixing
into new sub-groups. They learn how to lead in a team
setting. Time pressures help them learn how to increase
their "speed to productivity," sometimes failing but often
Demanding environments requiring behavioral change.
We provide a "leadership practice field" to translate concepts and insights into reliable leadership competencies.
Participants must solve "puzzles" that don't unlock by using
* Experiential challenges. Each sprint contains a multi-day
simulation or leadership challenge that provides learning
but also applies pressure for participants to perform in a
compressed time window.
* Time compression. This provides the leaders the opportunity to see the consequences of their decisions and see
how their choices play out. Consequences closely follow
decisions in simulations.
* Intense feedback. Every day leaders are "up for view" in a
Inspiring personal transformation. Leadership development requires risk, personal innovation, and intense social
interaction, all of which burn high amounts of emotional
and intellectual energy.
* Leaders learning from leaders. Leaders are exposed to
high performance standards by interacting with our most
effective leaders from across the company. This raises
their aspirations along with providing greater empathy
for being a more senior leader.
* People care about me. Leaders have a sense of psychological safety for leadership learning. There's pressure and
challenge but also support and encouragement. Leaders
feel valued and special, and they come to expect more
of themselves and their colleagues. They are part of a
high-performing leadership development community.
What Are We Learning about
We continually evolve the leadership development focus
points of our Xcelerators program. Accelerate is a verb not a
noun, and the Xcelerators program is not a static set of offerings. We constantly change, iterate, and experiment with our
program content, half of which is different from one run to
We believe that our approach to innovation as well as new
content keeps us fresh. Looking deeper, however, we also see
enduring leadership capabilities that support transformation
across our history of developing our Xcelerators program.
Here are five capabilities we see consistently through the fog
* Digital transformation mindset. No one knows the digital future. We only know it will be filled with innovation,
volatility, and uncertainty. Thus, we need a combination
of business acumen and flexibility. Humility mixed with
any strategic planning is also important.
* Purpose driven + grit. Transformation is not a linear
journey from A to B. The specific destination is unknown.
To inspire people to join the journey and stick with it (especially when times are dark), leaders need to evangelize
with an inspiring and compelling purpose, vision, and set
* Technological fluency. Technology is driving innovation, and tech change is moving at an exponential pace.
Leaders must deeply understand tech in their industry.
Everyone must think like a chief talent officer.
* Virtual, global communicator. Digital means global
(global customer communities and workforces). Leaders
must have as much presence and clarity on video, satellite,
video, and TV as in person. They will be communicating,
often asynchronously, 24/7.
* Playful resilience. There are no rest stops on a transformation journey. You must have fun and draw energy from
an experimental approach to innovation and organizational change. At those points when it's not fun, draw on
your resilience to keep transforming.
We are Xcelerating the development of leaders with these
transformational capabilities. Don't these capabilities also
seem to be just as important to strengthen among HR leaders helping people and organizations transform?
Andy Billings is vice president of profitable creativity at Electronic
Arts where he develops key change agents who ensure ongoing
profitability by overcoming "impossible" challenges. Participants
in Andy's learning and development initiatives have played a major
role in the company's recent digital transformation and financial
turnaround. In addition to his work at EA, Andy serves on several
boards of directors and advisory boards. He can be reached at
VOLUME 40 | ISSUE 3 | SUMMER 2017