The Idea
A client of CMOE, who has approximately 1,300 employees, recently requested a proposal for an in-house leadership development center.  While we were excited about the opportunity, this company didn’t have the budget to begin running the development center for 18 months.  Our contact made it explicitly clear that the company was going to cut some immediate costs for about 12 months to allocate funds for the leadership development center.  Despite the delays in getting started, the CMOE team was eager to create a proposal for them to consider for the future.

The Industry
The company’s cost cutting and budget restrictions stemmed from the 2008-2009 economic recession.  Specifically, the company provides products to the residential and commercial building industry.  Next to the automobile industry, I can’t think of a more affected sector as a result of the economic downturn of 2008-2009.  While their mind set was “we can’t afford it right now” it was clear they understood that leadership was critical to their success in the future.

The Proposal
Accounting-resizeWhile a good portion of our proposal called for many standard leadership topics, we also proposed a training program to develop leaders in business acumen concepts such as finance, accounting, and business strategy.  By helping these leaders understand the language of business: balance sheet, income statements, profitability ratios, and contribution margins, among other topics, they would better understand how the decision they make daily translate to the bottom line.  Click here to see a detailed description of this program.

The Reaction
CMOE’s proposal was given to the CEO of the company for his review and tentative approval.  Much to our surprise, the CEO immediately approved the proposal and requested it begin within the next six months, rather than 18.  After evaluating the proposal, the CEO expressed his strong interest in the business acumen program.  He expressive said, “This is exactly what we need and I wouldn’t change any of the content.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to me when I’m talking about our core business indicators in meetings.  It is obvious that very few people understand what I am talking about.  I’m so tired of explaining these fundamental concepts over and over again.  Get this program going as fast as you can.”

The Importance
It is clear the CEO of this company understood the importance of business acumen skills in developing leadership bench strength. However, despite the prestige the Corporate world places in bachelor and master degrees in Business Management, many key players in organizations lack this critical knowledge.

What would your CEO or CFO say about these important skills?  Do they experience similar frustrations as the CEO described above?  Do your people have a set of business acumen skills?  Give your people this quiz and find out.

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About the Author
Chris Stowell
Christopher Stowell is currently serving as CMOE’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing where he works with multi-national organization to develop their people. His special interests lie in coaching teamwork, strategy, e-learning, and assessment design, and delivery. Chris has a special talent in helping companies assess their organizational effectiveness and identifying key issues and opportunities in order to advance their performance and achieve long term results. Additionally, he has extensive experience in designing, coordinating, and facilitating customized adventure based experiential training events for high performance teams.

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