better leaders make for better companies; here's why boeing

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  • August 2007 BOEING FRONTIERS


    Better leaders make for better companies; heres why Boeing stresses leaders teaching leadersBy roBert sterling

    Continuous improvement is critical to increasing Boeings competitiveness. That includes continuous improvement in leadership skills; in alignment with the companys shared sense of purpose and values; and in how readily the people of Boeing transfer best practices and lessons learned, said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney.

    One of Boeings greatest advantages is its intellectual scalethe broad and deep range of experience that employees bring to the table. Among our challenges is to figure out how to mine those ideas and that expertise, apply them wherever they make the most sense across the entire company, and develop better leaders in the process, he has said.

    All around Boeing, the companys leadersincluding many without the formal manager titleare modeling the companys leadership attributes (see box on Page 15). These attributes help em-ployees and their teammates grow personally and professionally. The attributes also help explain why leadership is linked to employee en-gagement, an environment that values employee ideas and contribu-tionsand continued growth for Boeing.

    Leadership development truly is about living the attributes and opening up our culture across the company, said Julie-Ellen Acosta, vice president of Leadership Development. The goal of every lead-er must be to create an atmosphere that gives all employees the chance to make a difference. Thats how people grow, and thats why theyll choose to remain with Boeing.

    The challenge, Acosta said, is ensuring this happens at every level. Developing leaders requires a deliberate, one-company ap-proach, one that involves alignment and a lot of creativity with in-put from all areas of the company, she said. It also must have complete commitment from the topand we do. Our senior lead-ership believes developing people is one of the most important jobs we have, and theyre as much a part of that as anyone.

    When customers select our products and services, they choose

    Thats how we grow

    At the Boeing leadership Cen-ter near St. louis, people from around Boeing come to learn, understand, challenge and share ideas.BoB FERGuSoN PHoTo

  • BOEING FRONTIERS August 2007


    the innovation, design and craftsmanship of our people, said Rick Stephens, senior vice president, Human Resources and Administra-tion. The critical element is leadershipand the environment that leaders create for people. Leadership distinguishes us from other organizations.

    Stephens said that leaders must understand and use the tools avail-able for assessing, developing and evaluating people. These are key te-nets of the Boeing Leadership Model that are reinforced in the key HR processes and that hold leaders accountable for their performance.

    Its important to understand our strengths as well as opportu-nities where we can improve, Stephens said. A successful leader must engage in discussions around difficult issuessuch as an at-tribute where an individual may not be strongyet come across as inspiring to help that person continually grow. We need to push our-selves to build an environment for success and longevity where ev-eryone benefits.

    WHERE IDEAS, RIVERS MEETThe confluence of three riversthe Illinois, Missouri and Mis-

    sissippiis a fitting spot for the Boeing Leadership Center. At this location near St. Louis, leaders from across the company can come together to learn, understand, challenge and share ideas.

    The BLC offers core leadership development and functional ex-cellence programs that are constantly reviewed and updated as nec-essary with input from all the business units and functions. Leaders, at every level, spend from a week to nine days building leadership skills through simulations, action learning and discussions.

    The power of the BLC, Acosta said, is rooted in its teaching methodology: Leaders Teaching Leaders. The methodology literally means senior leaders are the teachers who share their challenges and experiences with participants. LTL also occurs outside of the BLC, through activities such as mentoring and informal leadership devel-opment discussions.

    LTL asks our senior leaders to participate as teachers, and that includes even our CEO. Were not talking professional, academic fa-cilitators. LTL speakers are assessed and held accountable for how effectively they teach, and the expectations for these teachers are very high, Acosta said.

    Topics range from external to internal business challenges to dis-cussions of the leadership attributes and the Boeing Management and Leadership models. Participants grapple with real-life Boeing prob-lems and chart the course toward a solution the company can act upon, dispelling the notion that learning has to preclude working.

    The overall goal, Acosta said, is to develop leaders faster and drive a consistent, one-company message across all business units. It also opens the culture throughout the company and brings Boeing closer together. Were working to bring the BLC experience to various re-gions, allowing more people access to the programs, Acosta added.

    While most people associate the BLC with curriculum-based pro-grams, its becoming much more. Recently, Integrated Defense Sys-

    Leadership, in six pointsHere are the six Boeing leadership attributes.

    A Boeing leader

    Charts the course.

    Sets high expectations.

    Inspires others.

    Thats how we grow

    tems Mark McGraw and Commercial Airplanes Beverly Wyse, both vice presidents on the 767 Tanker Program, brought together their teams for a week-long meeting at the BLC. The main purpose was to build team unity, air out frustrations and learn from one an-other to make the tanker program a success. McGraw said the team left with renewed energy, confident and determined.

    BCA wanted to learn about working with the military, and IDS wanted to learn about BCA processes. We found IDS perception of themselves matched BCAs and vice versa. This brought us clos-er together discussing our differences and our common ground, something the BLC naturally fosters, since meetings are not frag-mented like at a hotel and the atmosphere is about leadership. Id encourage other programs to do the same, McGraw said.

    LEADERS AND THE ATTRIBUTESWalt Ketts, a senior manager, Program Support, IDS General

    Procurement in St. Louis, has his hands full with his job and a multifunctional team of 32. Thus, developing his leadership skills around the leadership attributes has proved invaluable. Much of

    Finds a way.

    Lives the Boeing values.

    Delivers results.

    Julie Acosta, vice president, leadership Development, teaches a group of senior managers in a leaders Teaching leaders ses-sion recently at the Boeing leadership Center. Acosta engaged participants around living the attributes while reinforcing how strong leadership and employee engagement are paramount in opening the culture to drive growth and productivity..BoB FERGuSoN PHoTo

    Its our futureActions cited in this story show how employees are applying concepts of the Boeing Management Model to support the companys business strategies. Heres how.

    Leadership: Employees model the Boeing leadership attributes.

    To learn more about the Management Model, visit on the Boeing intranet.

  • August 2007 BOEING FRONTIERS


    Nhan PhamGlobal PartnersCommercial AirplanesRenton, Wash.Nhan Pham leads by example, and his teammates and customers know what they get each day he comes to work. Pham believes in owning the attributes.

    Pham serves as a project manager who works with the 737 program on work transfers and kitting strategies. Pham is not a manager, but that doesnt prevent him from leading and setting examples. My role is to see people stay focused and to ensure we stay on course, and I lead by example, Pham said. I do my best to foster openness. Everybodys input is of value.

    Pham works with peers and many suppliers, with the goal of bringing everyone together. For starters, he believes it all begins with basic lead-ership, coming to work on time and giving the best effort possible.

    Its doing what you say youre going to do, and that lends itself to stability, credibility and reliabilityoverall trust, he said. Its important to deliver results or at least do what you say.

    A big part of Phams responsibility is to inspire others, including sup-pliers, in what he called setting a positive influence to drive a path towards what is best for Boeing. Pham said that requires compiling facts and charting a course that takes supplier input into account. In the end, it often helps suppliers understand their role and why its critical theyre lean and more productive.

    Things progress well if you truly own the attributes, he said. Not only do they help you to lead more effectively, but they make you better at what you do.

    Model behaviorPeople across Boeing demonstrate how the leadership attributes transcend job titlesNonmanagement team leads are making a difference all across Boeing through modeling the leadership attributes. Their actions remind everyone that leadership is about action, not about title. Heres a look at some of these individuals.

    my time is spent helping guide, inspire and set the direction, he said.I think the leadership attributes are a well-integrated set of

    principles that can be applied to any situation you can encounter at work, said John Tracy, senior vice president of Engineering, Op-erations & Technology. You can find a lot of answers right there if you dig into them and make them a part of your leadershi


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