Leadership development specialist Louis Carter explains how the bank leverages on a mix of three essentials - global consistencies, cultural distinctives and individual ownership - to develop leaders effectively.

As Bank of America transformed from a U.S. bank into a global financial institution, it adopted a more consistent approach to aligning, teaching and developing key leaders.

The company believes successful global leadership development is a mix of three essentials: global consistencies, cultural distinctives and individual ownership.

It blends these essentials into its year-long accelerated development programme. Participants of this programme include 80-100 high-potential leaders identified in the bank.

The curriculum is a blend of self-paced, Web-enabled content, instructor-led classroom learning, assessment, coaching and ongoing, virtual instructor-led learning.

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Global consistencies

Bank of America leaders are expected to share certain core consistencies, including:

• A common language for how they talk about talent globally. • A common process for assessing talent globally, including common performance measures. • A centralised core curriculum that communicates the enterprise’s standards globally.

The aim behind sharing these core consistencies is to enable leaders  to start seeing themselves as part of something bigger than the individual business unit where they work or the local or regional market where they live.

The aim behind sharing these core consistencies is to enable leaders  to start seeing themselves as part of something bigger than the individual business unit where they work or the local or regional market where they live.
As part of the programme, participants are assigned to coaches from Bank of America’s HR community who know the company culture and live and work in the same region or business unit as those they are coaching.

Cultural distinctives

No global corporation can ignore the differences among nations, cultures and business units. If they do, any development course or curriculum created from corporate quickly runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, obsolete and being replaced at the local level with overly customised programs.

To avoid such issues, Bank of America’s global leadership development programme also gives weight to local perspectives.

Cultural differences are acknowledged and addressed in several ways:

• Regional leaders nominate participants for the programme and the same leaders remain engaged in the process throughout the year. This ensures that although much of the development emphasis is on core consistencies, the process has strong local input from start to finish.

• Regional leaders supplement the centralised curriculum by developing original content that addresses unique local or business unit needs.

• External coaches are selected to interact with participants. They share the same geography, culture and language of the leaders being developed.

Individual ownership

The company believes emerging leaders realise their potential by taking ownership of their own development.

As part of the programme, individuals submit to a multifaceted assessment regimen with a combination of online simulation, individual instruments, 360-degree feedback and structured career history interviews.

This approach is designed to give participants a holistic, in-depth view of their own strengths and development needs as well as provides the framework for ongoing targeted personal development.

This approach is designed to give participants a holistic, in-depth view of their own strengths and development needs as well as provides the framework for ongoing targeted personal development.
Creating a common understanding of the core of a global company and accounting for cultural differences around the world are crucial to the development of its leaders.

However, the most important aspect of the development process comes not from what the company teaches but from within the emerging leaders themselves.

After the programme ends, Bank of America tracks attendees’ performance, retention and promotion rates.

Bringing these three perspectives together — global consistencies, cultural distinctions and individual ownership — is the key to developing global leaders at Bank of America.

One of the world’s leading succession planning and leadership development specialists, Louis Carter is the President & CEO of the Best Practice Institute, a think tank and research institute devoted to leadership development and excellence. An author of 11 books, Carter has worked with C-level executives from multinational companies all over the world developing best practice leadership development programmes. Carter is one of the headline speakers at Talent Management Asia 2015.

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Held in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong in mid-April, Talent Management Asia is Asia’s biggest conference on talent management and human capital strategy. The two-day annual event is focused on global best practice HR strategy, features an agenda dominated by pan-Asian case studies and leading global thought leader, and attracts a large audience of senior HR generalists & specialists as well as other C-level executives involved in their companies’ HR strategies.

To get a global and Pan-Asian regional view of talent management and to increase your knowledge and skills across the talent management spectrum – recruitment, training & development, compensation & benefits, succession planning, and leadership development – don’t miss Talent Management Asia in April.

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