Unlocking Potential Case Study

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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Easterseals DC|MD|VA is a non-profit headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland that provides life-changing services to children, adults, and families of those with disabilities, veterans and their families. 

In 2017, Easterseals was undergoing tremendous growth amid a changing philanthropic landscape that brought incredible opportunities and introduced new challenges. Fortunate to have an experienced visionary at the helm in Jon Horowitch, who had recently taken on the role of CEO, Easterseals’ dedicated, hard-working staff was positioned to take advantage of these opportunities and take on challenges – from the top to the bottom. 

Over an eight-month period, from December 2017 to August 2018, Unlocking Potential supported Easterseals on their journey to inspire, empower, and connect all of their team members so that they could recognize their leadership potential, grow into effective problem-solvers, and transform their organization.

Fifty-five employees who represented every geography and every level of the organization had an opportunity to learn stories and lessons of leadership from Carly Fiorina – and worked collaboratively to identify a set of challenges they recognized as the most pressing. They applied what they learned through the Unlocking Potential process and developed solutions to four organization-wide issues.

We recognize that measuring the impact of leadership development is difficult – we won’t pretend otherwise. But we also know that true leadership is defined as those who solve problems and unlock the potential of those around them. We worked with a team of graduate students from Catholic University to develop a set of assessments to effectively measure the outcomes of this process. Additionally, we captured the stories of leadership on the ground – those that couldn’t be captured through assessments, but which most clearly demonstrate the individual and organizational growth that Easterseals experienced.

What we found was that the Unlocking Potential process produced meaningful outcomes on three dimensions: 

  • Generating insights: Participants and management went through a structured process that allowed them to develop a clear understanding of their current state and their desired future state – and they heard insights and recommendations directly from Carly Fiorina.

  • Breaking down silos: The participants in the program represented every level and geography of Easterseals. Employees worked with new people and, because they were solving real problems together, gained a new appreciation for the power of collaborating with those with different experiences in different areas of the organization. 

  • Solving problems: Throughout the program, participants defined four areas of opportunity and developed clear, effective solutions. They solved important organizational problems – together.

 

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I’ve attended a lot of training in the public and private sector and one of the things I really like about Unlocking Potential is... there’s a part that involves action. That’s really where the word ‘lab’ comes into play... you really roll up your sleeves and get to work and start taking action.
— Participant