How do you grow your leaders?

Lavinia Mehedintu

Maybe you’ve heard of UiPath, the first Romanian company to achieve the Unicorn status, and the best Robotic Process Automation (RPA) provider out there. UiPath was founded in 2005 by a handful of people and expanded to this day to over 30 countries.

On April 24th, our community got together again for an HR Hub Talk. We met Maya Camarasu, Program Manager — Global Leadership development @ UiPath to find more about how do you grow leadership capabilities in an organization where “fast” is a value, and change feels like home. I got 3 things out of the 3 hours we spent together with Maya:

·     Don’t just guess, ask;

·     Implement, get feedback, iterate;

·     Have leadership buy-in.

They started building the program by getting the C-level input. They met with them to better understand what were those key topics they should approach and what they wanted to improve by implementing this program.

Program pillars

One pillar of their leadership program is the organizational values.

· Humility. Always be open to learning, no matter how senior you are. Their senior leaders joined the program, although they had years of experience in large companies. Because they felt the need to understand what it means to be a leader in UiPath.

· Boldness. Take risks. Not all risks, smart risks.

· Immersion. Go the extra mile to get the results you want.

· Fast. Well, being a tech company, this needs no explanation.

Being a global company, the second pillar of the program is the Global culture mindset. They need to grow awareness about the different cultures they work with & help them build healthy relationships. You can get a look at how diverse UiPath leaders are, in their follow-up video. As a side note, it seemed pretty cool to me how they used an internal program to market the organizational culture.

The pillar that really got me, as a learning aficionado, was real learning. I felt this at every step of Maya’s presentation:

· First, they put on the table all the learning opportunities and asked the leaders what and how they’d like to learn. So they made the journey both accessible and relevant;

· One of the trends they adopted was guided learning. So both HR and coaches were there for leaders to guide them through their experience and help them grow.

The final pillar, that speaks for itself is their servant leadership philosophy.

How did they implement the program?

Being a technology company, it wasn’t a surprise for me to find out they used a lean approach to building the program.

The first step was just going out there, talking to leaders, let them experiment, give them the freedom to enroll if they felt the need. They had the chance to learn more about Career Management, Delegating, Performance Management, Coaching, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Strategy and many more. After getting some feedback, they rolled out the first iteration of the program. 9 months. Blended learning. All over the world.

In the second edition, they scaled to more leaders, and now they are preparing the third one which will be more complex and deep dive into 2 more subjects: Diversity & Inclusion and Self-Awareness.

They tested — got feedback — iterated over and over again. And they plan to do more of that, to make sure the program stays relevant.

How do they measure?

Having such short loops, they had a lot of feedback to work with. Feedback from the participants, feedback from their direct reports, feedback from managers of managers.

They also looked at performance reviews to get some quantitative data as a basis for program improvement.

Final Takeaway

After Maya finished her presentation, I was so excited. I was wondering how can I implement more of what they did in my organization. Then, a wise voice told me. It’s not a size fits all approach. It depends on so many factors: maturity, organizational culture,C-level, market.

What UiPath did, is an example of a best practice. But, instead of trying to do everything as they did, better take some steps in understanding what works for your organization and start from there. Maybe spice it up with a lean approach, a lot of feedback, some blended learning, and C-level support. That’s how you grow your leaders!