How Commvault Develops Leaders Strategically with a DDI Leadership Development Subscription

The Need

Commvault needed to reimagine and reinvent the way they support their leaders globally to help the organization continue to transform during a time of great transition and growth.

The Solution

Global leadership programs that gave leaders the skills to drive the company's strategy, with content from DDI's leadership development subscription.

The Result

Participants show measurable increases in leadership effectiveness and work performance, and highly recommend the program to their peers.

Even though I have a small team of five, when you work with DDI, it’s like having a team of 25 because you get their thought leadership, content, and insights. With DDI, we can truly mix and match content and build programs with ease.

Joe Ilvento, Chief Learning Officer at Commvault

Leadership Development Is More Than an HR Initiative

Commvault is a leading global data protection and management software company that has been in business for more than 20 years. The company employs over 3,000 people globally and has 7,000+ client partnerships.

The company needed to reimagine and reinvent the way they support their leaders globally to help the organization continue to transform. Led by Martha Delehanty, Commvault’s Chief People Officer, and Joe Ilvento, Commvault’s Chief Learning Officer, the company’s global leadership development initiatives had already started to become integrated into business strategy and had buy-in from the very top of the house.

This strong foundation for leadership development positioned the company well to adapt and succeed amid a period of great disruption. Yet, they knew that what got them to where they were would not take them to where they want to be. They set out to transform how they developed their leaders to ensure the company’s effective transformation.

“The way we approached transforming our leadership program was by not looking at it as just an HR initiative, but as a business imperative,” says Ilvento. “We see our leaders and the programs that develop them as a strategic advantage.”


Leadership as a Strategic Advantage

Ilvento and his team, including Itika Choubey (Americas) and Namrata Atukuri (International), developed the idea for Commvault’s Strategic Leadership Advantage series based on a leadership model that considers the foundational technical skills and leadership skills a person in every role, regardless of level, needs to be successful. “We believe everyone at Commvault is a leader, whether you have a team reporting to you or not,” Ilvento says.

“Certainly, as you rise up the ladder or as your role increases or enhances to a leader perspective in the company, that split changes, so as an individual contributor, you might be 70/30, 70% on the foundational side, 30% on the leadership side, but those numbers flip as you move up the organization,” Ilvento continues. “We believe you never take that foundational hat off as you rise through the ranks. Our leaders are ‘player coaches,’ they are both on the field, and we’re learning and leading.”

Ilvento and his team partnered with DDI to build and launch two leadership programs of the series: Foundational Leadership and People Leadership. The Foundational Leadership program is designed for new frontline managers and those with no formal management training. The People Leadership program is for supervisors, team leaders, and managers with up to five years of experience managing others.

After the Foundational and People Leadership programs were up and running, the Commvault team defined two other leader audiences to include in the series:

  • Individual Leadership: Non-people managers, project leaders, team leaders, those with a desire to develop personal effectiveness skills.
  • Business Leadership: Director-level leaders and select high performers and high potentials that would benefit from programs with more business, partnership, and strategy focus.

Context Is Key

Commvault’s partnership with DDI included a Foundation-level leadership development subscription, which provides everything learning and development teams need to grow key skills in frontline leaders. It includes the leadership content itself, such as in-person and virtual courses, on-demand micro courses, and digital tools, plus expert guidance to ensure success. Commvault was assigned a dedicated DDI strategic learning team to help launch the partnership and provide guidance by the side of the Commvault team as they designed and deployed their programs.

DDI’s strategic learning team partnered with Ilvento and his team to understand the organization’s context, including identifying business drivers. Business drivers are the top three to five most critical leadership challenges that leaders must conquer to drive the strategic and cultural priorities of the organization. Identifying business drivers up front allowed the DDI team to give guidance around critical competencies Commvault’s frontline leaders needed to master to achieve those business drivers.

Next, the team aligned those competencies with leadership development content across various modalities from DDI’s Foundation subscription.

“This is where the value of the DDI subscription came in,” Ilvento says. “The DDI team helped us map what our frontline leaders need to do to achieve our strategy. And then with the competencies defined, we worked together to find the best content to deliver in the right format for our leaders.”


Moving From a Fixed to Agile Mindset

With the core frontline leader skills defined, the Commvault team collaborated with their DDI team to create a 100-day fully remote frontline leadership learning journey. The approach of a continuous learning journey fit the organization’s new learning and development context, which was shifting from “one-and-done” in-person learning experiences to the virtual classroom—to cater to remote work due to the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, Commvault was evolving its leadership program from skills development to capability development. “I think of capabilities as a bigger subset of skills,” says Ilvento.

“As we moved to this different way of thinking about our leadership programs and skill building, we went from a fixed mindset to an agile mindset,” continues Ilvento. “For example, traditionally, we thought of each role as having a single skillset. But the reality is that you might wear different hats during the day. Maybe even a double hat or triple hat. The luxury of having just a single job these days doesn’t always exist.”

Ilvento also described wanting to create the same hands-on, experiential learning in their remote classroom as through in-person learning. “We had to take this two-dimensional image and screen that we're all looking at and turn it into something that was more experiential through polls and questions and chats and tools,” Ilvento says. “For example, we knew we needed to teach our people to lead remotely, but a one-and-done or an eight-hour-long Zoom session wasn’t going to cut it. That’s why we moved to the concept of a learning journey that included content delivered in shorter sprints, but delivered over a period of time.”


Commvault’s Foundational Leadership Program: Creating Frontline Leaders Who Excel in a Hybrid World

Commvault’s Foundational Leadership program includes 30 hours of content delivered over the course of 100 days in three phases: Engage, Learn, and Grow.

In the Engage phase, the program kicks off allowing both learners and managers of learners to understand “What’s in it for me?” The goal is to set expectations with both learners and managers of learners. This phase includes pre-work for learners, a few short microlearning courses around leading virtually and communicating virtually, peer learning group activities, and a meeting with the learner’s manager to start building an individual development plan to apply what is learned.

The Learn phase is a mix of formal knowledge acquired through instructor-led virtual classroom and self-guided web-based training, along with skill practice. The Learn phase is the longest phase with seven learning modules over the course of several weeks. This phase includes DDI courses around Leading Virtually, Delegation, Building and Sustaining Trust, and Creating an Inclusive Environment. This phase also includes virtual check-in meetings with coaching time built in for each learner and their manager, digital sustainability tools, and on-the-job application activities.

The last phase of the program, Grow, is about how to sustain learning development beyond formal experiences. This phase includes a few more microlearning courses, digital tools to support leaders in their just-in-time moments of need, a meeting with the learner and their manager to ensure post-learning application, earning a digital badge to feature on their LinkedIn profile, and a post-program survey so learners can rate the program and offer feedback.

After completing the Foundational Leadership program, learners are given the opportunity to participate in the People Leadership program.


Commvault’s People Leadership Program: Leading and Empowering Teams to Deliver

Commvault’s People Leadership program draws from core management skills, but also focuses on how to demonstrate those skills and create relationships with team members. People Leadership brings in coursework on how leaders can coach, listen, inspire, and empower their teams to succeed and execute the company’s strategy.

This program also features the Engage, Learn, and Grow phases, and a learning journey model with similar modalities and cadence. Just like Foundational Leadership, the Engage phase of People Leadership includes a virtual kickoff with both managers and participants, microlearning courses, peer learning, and a meeting with the learner and their manager. But unlike Foundational Leadership, People Leadership includes pre-work with a psychometric leadership assessment and an EQ assessment. The Engage phase includes a pre-session to get learners ready to debrief their assessment results in the Learn phase.

The Learn phase is made up of the 360 debrief session as well as seven modules that include instructor-led virtual classroom courses and self-guided web-based training. This phase includes DDI courses around Navigating Beyond Conflict, Leading Teams, Coaching, Addressing Poor Performance, and more.

Finally, the structure of the Grow phase mimics Foundational Leadership, with a few more microlearning courses, digital tools to support leaders in their just-in-time moments of need, a meeting with the learner and their manager to ensure post-learning application, earning a digital badge, and a post-program survey so learners can rate the program and offer feedback.

“In our upfront design of these journeys with DDI, we intentionally created these ‘red threads’ of consistent language and models, not just within one journey in particular,” says Ilvento, “But really across all of our levels of journeys."


Measuring Results and Seeing Impact

So far, over 250 Commvault managers across the globe have completed either the Foundational or People Leadership program, with many more participants enrolled in a future cohort.

Impressively, 97% of Foundational participants and 98% of People Leadership participants say they would recommend the program to others in the organization. Participants rate topics highly and report that the learnings have a positive impact on their work performance.

For the Foundational Leadership program, participants have shown:

  • An average increase of 20% that the topics helped them increase their team members’ engagement.
  • An average increase of 18% that the topics helped them increase the productivity of their team.
  • An average increase of 26% that they know their strengths better after training, and how best to leverage them.
  • An average increase of 20% that they know how to create visibility/clear objectives for their virtual team.

For the People Leadership program, participants have shown:

  • An average increase of 46% that the topics helped them increase their team members’ engagement.
  • An average increase of 38% that the topics helped them increase the productivity of their team.
  • An average increase of 52% that they had a better understanding of their EQ and the impact on themselves and others after the training.
  • An average increase of 52% that they have clear actions they can take to improve their leadership impact with their team after the training.

A Small, But Mightily Successful L&D Team

So, what’s next for Ilvento and Commvault’s learning and development team? Besides making continuous improvements to the Foundational and People Leadership programs based on survey feedback from participants, the team is working with DDI to continue to innovate Commvault’s leadership development initiatives. The Commvault global L&D team also offers several other development programs that require regular oversight and maintenance.

“I frequently get asked, ‘How can you do all of this with a team of only five people?’” Ilvento says. “We do it because we have a great model and framework for leadership development, we have support from our senior leaders, we leverage great partners like DDI, we’re organized, and we make it happen.”


Learn more about DDI’s leadership development subscriptions.

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn more about Commvault’s leadership development program.