Author: Edward Betof

Publisher: ASTD Publications, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1562865450, 224 pages

The best football teams do not park their star players on the bench. Your top executives are your star players. Now, make them play ball: Deploy their expertise by involving them in teaching and training. Learning expert Edward Betof describes how companies can create “leaders as teachers” programs, sharing the knowledge of their senior executives, top managers and in-house experts--and, thus, fully benefiting from their top people’s expertise and savvy. Having served for 10 years as chief learning officer for leading medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company, Betof speaks with an insider’s informed perspective. He made this program work in the trenches. <em>getAbstract</em> believes his book is well suited for learning and development officers, and for others who want to put teaching and learning at the core of their companies’ success.

BD University: Where leaders teach

In 1999, senior executives at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a medical technology firm, faced a major challenge. To meet their future objectives for the company, these leaders realized they had to “spend more time developing people” with enhanced training. That meant increasing their executives’ capabilities and mustering them as volunteer teachers.

The firm committed to transforming itself into “a teaching organization and a learning organization.” In 2000, Edward J. Ludwig, an enthusiastic proponent of this new venture, became the company’s CEO. He and his executive team planned and developed a new “face-to-face learning” program. Its crown jewel, BD University, teaches sales, leadership, “business skills” and “operational effectiveness,” among other subjects. More than 500 of the firm’s executives have earned certification as “leader-teachers,” and more than 50,000 students have received training. Teaching methods vary from classroom sessions to various “technology-enabled resources.” This “leaders as teachers” approach makes sense for any firm for six reasons:

1. “Helping to drive business results”: Teacher-as-leader learning programs align their content with a company’s business goals and outcomes.

2. “Stimulating the learning and development of leaders and associates”: Having senior leaders serve as role models builds everyone’s capabilities. Employees can create networks and try new “skills and behaviors” without worrying about failure.

3. “Improving the...skills of those who teach”: Executives who teach others sharpen their teaching and leadership skills, and build expertise about their specialty areas.

4. “Strengthening organizational culture and communications”: Leaders who teach exemplify the corporate culture and demonstrate what the firm expects from its personnel.

5. “Promoting positive business and organizational change”: This helps staffers prepare for change by teaching organizational design and change management.

6. “Reducing cost by leveraging top talent”: This program is cost-effective.

Becton, Dickinson’s university has taught 2,000 students the “eight-step model of change” written by John Kotter of Harvard Business School. His step-by-step change management strategy can help your leaders-as-teachers program overcome the usual organizational resistance to new ideas. The status quo exerts tremendous pull...

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