Brandon Black

LaL has been incredibly helpful to me as a CEO and a husband/father over the past few years.

Throughout my career I have been provided the opportunity to participate in many leadership development seminars and have read countless books with a formula for becoming a great leader. Despite accumulating a vast amount of knowledge, my general leadership style didn’t change very much. On the surface, that hasn’t seemed to hurt my career. However, I have come to realize that certain counterproductive aspects of my style that I built up over many years were limiting my potential and the potential of our company. As an example, I now realize just how far I will go to be right and the impact that has on my co-workers, friends and family. Instead of creating a space for open dialogue and free exchange of ideas, when I perceive the threat of being wrong, I will compensate by diverting to a new topic, debating with people over things that don’t matter or seeking allies that will agree with me. Obviously, that isn’t the environment where learning can occur. I know that, and you know that, but what I didn’t suspect was how much I do it, why I do it nor how to change it.

That realization (and many others) was the direct result of a partnership Encore began with Learning as Leadership (LaL) in late 2005. LaL is an incredibly unique leadership program that has evolved over 25 years of empirical research, training, coaching and consulting. Many programs describe what leaders should do, but I haven’t found another program that helps me understand the root causes of my unhelpful behaviors, and then provides real, useable tools to change them.

They provide the venue, the tools and a tremendous amount of support and honesty for you and/or your team.

At our company, the top 20 leaders have gone through their executive program and we have cascaded the methodology down to another 100 or so leaders through their in-house program, called WeLead. The results are embedded in our financial returns, which have been quite strong despite the industry and macroeconomic headwinds. I’m realizing more and more how key business challenges are fraught with people issues, unacknowledged performance gaps and long-standing silos. Our partnership with LaL has led to the dissolution of a number of difficult “Us vs Them” dynamics, namely between IT and Operations and between different parts of our Collections business, a very significant uptick in our employee engagement numbers over four years ago and numerous unsolicited comments from new hires about the unprecedented openness in our culture compared to their previous organizations.

All this is without mentioning the deep satisfaction I’ve gotten from investing in my team in a way that really makes a difference in their lives. An employee once wrote me an unsolicited note some time back:

I want to genuinely thank you for investing in me and providing me with the LaL opportunity. In my opinion, it was the most impactful personal experience that I’ve had since my time in the Marines. I’ve learned so much about myself and I’m working really hard to incorporate what I’ve learned into my daily life. I am implementing a number of things that I would have never done prior to LaL. I will work hard to leverage the experience to its fullest.

In summary, both from personal experience and seeing the benefits for my team and the company, I highly recommend LaL.