As companies realize how critical it is to have A-players in place for all functional areas, they increasingly turn to leadership development as a solution. The failure of new managers to develop their leadership skills can be detrimental to an organization; ‘bad management’ is one of the most often cited reasons why great employees leave companies. With traditional classroom training in decline, the Texas-based Abilitie is at the forefront of a revolution in the leadership development landscape. Abilitie uses a simulation-based leadership development approach that is focused on creating meaningful learning experiences that help leaders grow. “We believe that designing an educational experience holistically and with room for practicing skills is far more valuable than just knowledge transfer of leadership models and content,” says Bjorn Billhardt, CEO of Abilitie.
Leadership is a team sport and learning to lead is a social undertaking. Abilitie follows a team-based approach where learners are placed in simulated marketplaces and compete as they make decisions that hone their skills in areas like business acumen, strategy, people management, and leading with influence. Abilitie provides potential leaders a theme-based simulation for leadership development where learners practice in a safe and feedback-rich environment with the assistance of qualified facilitators. “We see a strong demand for this type of meaningful, long-term leadership development experience that allows leaders to hone their skills in a safe environment,” says Billhardt.
In a simulated learning environment quarter, leaders make decisions in all functions of an enterprise and then view the results that can vary from a loss to gain in market share. “Sometimes, the long-term outcome of decisions made in early rounds of the simulation won’t become apparent for in several quarters,” adds Billhardt. Seasoned senior leaders, many of whom can be skeptical about the need to change behaviours, can observe the outcomes of their decisions in the simulated marketplace. By placing each individual in the shoes of various executive roles, Abilitie enables them to practice decision-making, communication, and cross-functional collaboration skills. The solution is customizable, not only with the industry or company-specific learning objectives but also in relation to the level of the participants.
Bjorn Billhardt, CEO
With their simulation-based learning, Abilitie has transformed the leadership development landscape for several clients like GE, Tesco, Prudential, and Orthofix among others. Southwest Airlines is an example of a client that has benefited from Abilitie’s simulation learning expertise. Southwest Airlines invests significantly in employee development, primarily in leadership development through a variety of learning experiences. With a focus on meeting their fiscal and operational goals, Southwest recognized the need to include a financial acumen module in their leadership development program. In partnership with Abilitie, the company incorporated the Business Challenge simulation into their leadership program that helped potential leaders understand the relationship between operational decisions and financial metrics. The simulation helped participants develop expertise in investment decision-making and ROI analysis as well as strategic execution at the operational levels.
Apart from the U.S., Abilitie has an extensive global network of facilitators in Europe, Asia, and the Americas that has enabled the company to deliver simulated leadership development programs around the globe for roles anywhere from front-line managers to the executive level.
To further grow as a thought-leader in the industry, Abilitie is planning to roll out new simulation scenarios and industry-specific templates for all simulation products. The company’s technology platform has been streamlined to create a seamless virtual experience. “Utilizing the latest technology, we strive to create the most powerful online leadership experience while training and preparing leaders of tomorrow,” concludes the CEO.