Innovating VP Development

The Need

A large global company needed to optimize performance of prospective VPs and prepare them for future roles by improving the impact of the VP leadership development program.

The Solution

A leadership development program using insights from Leader3Ready® to target development activities, plus courses from Business Impact Leadership® and coaching to build leadership skills.

The Result

After the program, 90% of prospective VPs were ranked as very or extremely effective in critical interpersonal, leadership, & business skills. The company also saw increased engagement, retention, productivity, and improved leadership bench strength.

The assessment data allows for targeted individual development planning. But it also informed the design of the learning journey, ensuring the group development would target the right behaviors the company needed its leaders to excel at.


The HR team of a well-known global company already had an effective leadership development program designed to help prospective VP-level leaders develop and grow. However, now that the program had been running for several years, the team was looking to optimize and improve its impact.

The company’s current program had evolved over the years from a pure assessment to a more development-oriented experience. Also, the HR team had already seen the powerful impact of rich assessment data from DDI’s Leader3Ready® immersive mid-level and executive leader assessment. So the company turned to DDI to help with the use of assessment data in new and unique ways to develop their current leaders who were already identified to take over future VP-level roles.


Kicking Off Development with Assessment

To achieve this goal, DDI and the company’s HR team worked together to craft a learning journey aimed at accelerating high potentials. The development experience kicked off with a diagnosis phase that included participants going through the fully virtual Leader3Ready behavioral assessment.

The assessment immerses high potentials in a realistic scenario to let them showcase if they have what it takes to thrive in a VP-level role. The experience levels the playing field for all participants, with each participant working through the same scenario based on real challenges they will face as an early executive. But best of all? The rich data the experience provides. After the simulation, DDI scores the data using a proprietary blend of artificial intelligence and professional assessors.

For participants, they receive an individual report with data that makes it easy for them to spot their growth areas and see their strengths. A DDI coach also explains the report and gives the participant feedback after the simulation.

For the company’s HR team, the assessment data provides a holistic and objective look at the participants’ capabilities across four key dimensions: behavior, experience, motivation, and personality. The team also receives group reports, including a high-fidelity heat map that shows which of their high potentials are best prepared to step up to specific business challenges, and who has the most potential for VP-level roles at the company.

With data in hand, the HR team had confidence in their decisions about who to include in the accelerated development experience. The high-quality assessment data allowed for targeted individual development planning for each learner. It also informed the design of the entire learning journey, ensuring the group development would target the right behaviors the company needs its VP-level leaders to excel at to achieve current and future business goals.


Development Based on Real Challenges

After the virtual assessment phase, the next part of the program included a three-day in-person workshop facilitated by DDI.

The high potentials selected for the VP development experience were from all over the globe and placed in cohorts of around 40 participants each. Each cohort was then put into teams that included six to seven people per team. The teams each worked on a business challenge selected from key current and future strategic challenges. Courses from DDI’s Business Impact Leadership® development program for mid-level and early executive leaders were also part of the three-day workshop. The courses included topics such as emotional intelligence, networking and partnerships, influencing, and developing organizational talent.

Coaches from both DDI and the company supported individuals during the group development sessions to help them create a plan for tackling the challenge once in the VP role.

The same DDI coaches from the assessment feedback sessions were involved in the in-person workshop, and also followed up with participants at two touchpoints in the months after the workshop. This helped to ensure continuity across the development experience and ensured coaches had a deep understanding of the business and personal challenges these leaders were facing.

As part of the follow-up, the development planning report created during the program was also used for the mid-year assessment review for each participant. The report included targeted development actions that came out of the assessment experience. Progress on these actions was tracked until year-end.

Ready for Success at the Next Level of Leadership

From start to finish, starting with the assessment to the final coaching touchpoint after the workshop, the initial program pilot met the predetermined timeline set by DDI and the company’s implementation teams. Excellent communication and overall partnership between the teams ensured each piece of development was consistently delivered on time and within budget.

Since its implementation, the program has seen excellent results. According to DDI’s measurement of the program’s impact:

  • Approximately 65% of participants were rated as “very” or “extremely” effective in leadership skills before attending development.
  • After attending the program, that number rose to 90% (according to participants) or 84% (according to colleagues), suggesting that the company’s development program advanced a good group of leaders to a great group of leaders.

Key areas of skill improvement:

  • Leaders’ interpersonal and leadership skills
  • Strategic and business advancement skills

Additionally, the program has increased the engagement of its participants as well as the engagement and focus on development of the participants’ direct reports. This has led to increased retention and productivity all around.

The initiative has also improved participants’ focus on organizational strategy and improved the company’s leadership bench strength. Ultimately, this company’s leadership development program participants are more prepared for success at the next level of leadership.


Learn how DDI can help you develop mid-level and early executive leaders.