Leadership Development 4.0
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Leadership Development 4.0

Martina Mangelsdorf describes GAIA Insights' innovative ASPIRE program

Monday 10 July 2017


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Forbes, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly – well-respected sources claim left and right that strong ethics, empathy, communication skills, empowerment, openness and lifelong learning, are the competencies that take leaders from good to great. In other words, companies know what qualities their leaders need to succeed and they invest heavily in leadership development. Yet most traditional programs on the market have not yet cracked the code of successful leadership development for the next generation of leaders.

ASPIRE is different. “Moving away from traditional training programs to curated development journeys that engage the learner at various levels is the right way to go,” says Jennifer Allen, executive development leader at a global pharmaceutical corporation and one of the first clients experiencing ASPIRE in 2015. This new concept takes a four-dimensional approach:

Uniquely customized solutions

Every ASPIRE journey starts with an in-depth needs analysis, defining up to 15 leadership competencies that matter to an organization. “Based on the defined learning objectives, we propose a selection of program elements for our clients to pick and choose from,” says Martina Mangelsdorf, creator of ASPIRE. Once the journey elements are confirmed, her boutique firm, GAIA Insights, sources the right experts from a power partner network to deliver the desired outcome: “We collaborate with a global network of coaches and expert partners, forming a strong alliance. Most of them are owner-led niche firms, in other words they combine specialist expertise, customer centricity and infinite passion for what they do. Together, we are united by our desire to create impact.” By giving ASPIRE participants exposure to diverse topics, various subject matter experts and thought leadership, they are equipped with a comprehensive leadership toolbox. Clients who already work with a great vendor or tool, are even encouraged to invite their suppliers to join in and collaborate with GAIA Insights. Consequently, every ASPIRE program is a uniquely customized solution.

“What makes this approach different is that it allows us to bring together various specialists within their respective fields. Now we have complete flexibility to shape and design the program and bring in different vendors to deliver what they do best. The program is fully customized to us and the development needs of the individual participants, so we do not need to adapt to an off-the-shelf solution." Peter Jakobsen, former Head Global Talent of a global trade and logistics company

Shaping corporate leaders to lead from within

Anyone can study an MBA and pick up the technical skills to succeed commercially. However, recent studies and research published by McKinsey & Company and Harvard Business Review found that CEOs with a strong character outperformed their poorly-ranked peers by nearly 500%. "Our focus on character development is another dimension that makes ASPIRE different. We want to expand business potential by inducing behavioral change and shaping leaders who lead from the inside out”, says Martina Mangelsdorf. This is why ASPIRE does not focus on business acumen, financial planning or functional know-how. Instead, it addresses more intrinsic leadership skills that will set enterprise leaders apart in the future: self-awareness, resilience, interpersonal skills, problem solving, influencing, political intelligence, creativity, collaboration and understanding team dynamics will shape the nature of successful organizations. ASPIRE supports any business strategy because it is based on the company’s requirements and responds to a volatile market environment. More than anything, ASPIRE shapes agile leaders and equips them with the tools to take their business to the next level.

“Being a leader comes with great mental, physical, social and emotional demands. The ASPIRE program helps break down the complexity of the role and optimizes personal and organizational performance.” Dr. Rachel Monyoncho, ASPIRE Coach in Kenya

Holistic learning architecture

Thirdly, the creators of ASPIRE do not believe in pure skill building. Instead, they are convinced that leadership skills are only as good as their application in real life. That is why there is a high degree of monitoring in ASPIRE to guarantee each individual’s progress. The expert facilitators and hand-picked program mentors take participants on an unforgettable journey with a steep learning curve. ASPIRE combines experiential, virtual, social and gamified learning through action, reflection, feedback and coaching. Webinars, online games, a virtual engagement platform and knowledge library, live modules, individual coaching, assessments, assignments and more are all integral elements of ASPIRE. Instead of randomly throwing all sorts of development measures at people, however, the program is carefully orchestrated, activities are engineered into a seamless flow into one holistic learning journey.  As often, the power is in the detail – from high performance food served during live modules to personalized feedback on homework assignments. While founded on robust theory and scientific concepts, ASPIRE focuses on tangible and practical tools and behaviors. Its modular approach is composed as a systematic flow of curated content and designed to guarantee sustainable learning through immediate practice and application on the job.

“ASPIRE is disruptive. It’s a deeply immersive experience that really challenges delegates and trainers alike. It is tough as hell and extremely rewarding. It creates lasting learning and immediate behavioral change. I am extremely proud to be part of the delivery team.” William Anderson, ASPIRE Facilitator and Partner at The TeamWorks, United Kingdom

 Personalized learning and constant care

“Context is as important for groups and individuals as it is for organizations as a whole: the best programs explicitly tailor a ‘from–to’ path for each participant,” writes McKinsey. The fourth dimension is hardest to grasp because it is entirely intangible. Successful leaders are high potentials, top talents and the personified holy grail of corporate organizations. However, first and foremost they are human beings who need to connect with other human beings to engage them, inspire them and turn them into followers who buy into their vision. ASPIRE creates a safe space for participants to be themselves and go beyond their comfort zone. Topics such as vulnerability, inclusion, balance and authenticity are addressed through introspection and confronting participants with their fears and emotions, often leading to what they call a life-changing transformation. This in turn creates a ripple effect when these leaders impact others by sharing their learnings with their teams and co-workers. Martina Mangelsdorf explains: “We look at people’s development holistically and always put the participant experience first. Think of our expert facilitators as musicians in an orchestra. Each instrument makes beautiful music when played alone but when you put them all together, that is when the magic happens. GAIA Insights is the conductor, ensuring each movement flows seamlessly into the next, to create a highly customized leadership development journey with curated content composed for a personalized learner experience – leadership development 4.0.”

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. ASPIRE made me wiser, so I have changed myself.” Recent ASPIRE graduate from India

“A mind blowing once in a lifetime experience that will transform you to your very core with the most beautiful and rewarding results. ASPIRE will make you the best version of yourself that you can be.”   Recent ASPIRE graduate from South Africa

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Download the latest ASPIRE brochure from GAIA Insights. Click here

ASPIRE is a trademark program powered by GAIA Insights. 

GAIA Insights GmbH is a boutique firm offering customized premium leadership development solutions and pioneering new ways of leadership development to develop authentic, courageous, and inclusive leaders who maximize human potential and achieve greater impact together. 

Further reading: Four Key Trends Driving the Corporate Learning and Development Market, by Amy Wartham,| Director of Corporate Training, UNC Charlotte 

GAIA Insights pioneers new ways of leadership development and is a niche provider for customized premium solutions. By partnering to truly understand clients’ needs, GAIA Insights designs and deploys highly engaging learning experiences that caters to the aspirations and expectations of the next generation of leaders.

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