Orchid Slingshot partners with US firm to help leaders develop their strengths

Corporate January 24, 2014 00:00

By Pichaya Changsorn
The Nation

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Human-resource consulting firm Orchid Slingshot has sealed a partnership agreement with Zenger Folkman, a US-based company that offers leadership-development tools designed to turn "good managers into great leaders".

The Thai consultancy on Wednesday held two briefing sessions, one with chief executives and the other with HR and other functional heads, to introduce Zenger Folkman’s “Extraordinary Leader” programme to potential clients. 
Robert Sherwin, chief operating officer of Zenger Folkman, flew from the US state of Utah to Bangkok about a week ago to certify four Orchid Slingshot trainers in the Extraordinary Leader programme. He also took part in Wednesday’s presentation, and said Extraordinary Leader would help executives find their “profound strengths” and identify ways to develop these strengths into realistic plans and achievements.
The Extraordinary Leader process begins with a 360-degree feedback assessment survey to evaluate how the participating executives are perceived on competence dimensions relevant to their role in organisation in the eyes of the people around them (bosses, colleagues and subordinates). 
The assessment is based on 16 competencies that Zenger Folkman has determined are the qualities that distinguish the top 10 per cent of leaders from the rest.
These “differentiating” competencies are taking initiative, practising self-development, inspiring and motivating others, displaying high integrity and honesty, a drive for results, developing others, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork, establishing “stretch goals” (those that cannot be achieved by small or incremental improvements), championing change, solving problems, analysing issues, communicating powerfully and prolifically, connecting the group to the outside world, innovation, technical or professional expertise, and developing strategic perspectives. 
Co-founder Joe Folkman said in a Harvard Business Review blog last August that research showed that great leaders did a few things very well. “It is not the absence of weaknesses that makes leaders great; rather, it is the presence of a few profound strengths,” he wrote.
After finding the strengths of executives, Orchid’s managing director Vasin Oradidolchest said, Zenger Folkman helps them choose which ones they should work on developing. 
Notably, the development approach is similar to what is known in the sports world as “cross-training”, in which athletes train in sports other than their own in a bid to improve their overall performance. 
If the participating executive is technically adept, for instance, delving even more deeply into technical manuals won’t get him nearly as far as honing a complementary skill such as communication, which will make his expertise more apparent and accessible to his co-workers, he said.
Zenger Folkman’s vice president of global channels, Chris Evans, said that since it began to expand outside the North American market only two years ago, the company had quickly extended its network to now having 21 partners in more than 30 countries. 
Last year, 35 per cent of leaders who went through the firm’s Extraordinary Leader programme were in companies outside the United States.

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