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The RBL Group: Building Results-Based Leadership

Norm Smallwood, Co-Founder, The RBL GroupNorm Smallwood, Co-Founder
The ongoing trend around leadership development focuses on the individual leader’s skills and how their capabilities in handling issues inside the organization impact the stakeholders outside. However, staying in sync with these trends and aligning the HR systems, IT, and decision-makers with the overall workplace culture becomes significantly challenging for organizations. Norm Smallwood and Dave Ulrich, two experts in the field of organizational leadership development, saw these trends and set sail to change the way HR functioned and laid a strong foundation for effective leadership through The RBL Group. Placing strategic HR transformation and leadership development at the forefront of its consulting practices, RBL delivers services to help decision-makers turn leadership programs into organizational growth engines. “Where most organizations focus on inside-out logic to function, we at RBL work based on an outside-in approach. Thus, we create solutions by focusing on markets, customers, and investors and then meet their needs to drive results and build their brand identity,” says Smallwood, co-founder of RBL.

“Leadership is about building on resilience that strengthens others,” adds Smallwood. What started from a discussion around leadership 20 years ago soon resulted in the publication of a book named ‘Results-Based Leadership.’ The book was the outcome of the collaboration of three professionals— Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Jack Zengar—which eventually led to the birth of RBL. Over the years, Smallwood along with Ulrich indulged in substantial research around results-based leadership development and published many books centered on results as the key for success and how human resources impacts employees. Driven by these practices of results-based leadership, RBL is expanding its expertise to help leaders in building skills that help solve challenging problems.

Where most organizations focus on inside-out logic to function, we at RBL work based on an outside-in approach

RBL follows a set of best practices through which the investors, customers, and employees contribute to making the right choices to deal with critical organizational issues, today and in the future. RBL creates its leadership brand capability based on six components: business case, clarity, leaders and leadership assessment, leadership programs, measuring investments, and reputation building. Through business case, RBL gains insights into the purpose of investing in leadership training and then formulates a budget to kick-start the programs and help leaders develop both their personal and organizational skills. Clarity helps in understanding the way leaders connect customers to employees for setting up unique leadership competencies in an organization. This is followed by the assessment of each leader for their skills development to address the existing leadership gaps and build their brand. Through various leadership development programs, RBL thoroughly examines job assignments, action learning projects, and creative ways to invest in developing leadership skills and then measuring those investments. All these aspects help build awareness about both internal and external communication, enabling leaders to inspire confidence in employees, customers, and investors about their leadership programs. A case in point, one of RBL’s clients, a global hospitality company, invested $15 million in advertisements around creating unique experiences for their customers. However, the client failed to make his employees understand the different ways to serve their customers that would keep the brand promise. To help bridge that gap, RBL conducted behavioral and psychometric assessments of 500 leaders and compared that to financial, customer, and employee data. As a result, RBL helped the client focus on monetary investments to cultivate leaders who can impact employees and customers to drive results and sustain their brand reputation.

Moving forward, RBL continues to foster a culture wherein every interaction between the employees and customers creates a unique experience for stakeholders. The company is working toward aligning all stakeholders for organizations to build their brand reputation and create an experience that resonates across the board.