Over the past 12 years, we have worked in 27 countries around the world with nearly every kind of organization and individual. Political leaders to Fortune 100 corporations. Stock exchanges to think tanks. Global banks to Ivy League universities.
What unites our clients is their recognition of the indispensable competitive advantage of effective communication, a fierce desire to grow, and a focus on results.
As one of the world’s largest employment and human resources providers, Randstad wanted to ensure they were practicing what they preached — putting people first. Seven years ago, they asked Stand & Deliver (along with the elite international business school, INSEAD) to partner in a program to develop high performance communication in Randstad’s next generation of leaders.
Stand & Deliver responded with an intensive, experiential curriculum for small cohorts of leaders who are tasked with researching a segment of Randstad’s business and reporting back to an executive board and CEO. We concentrated on organizational strategy in the first month, then returned six months later to develop delivery and performance—bringing the presentation “script” to life. Stand & Deliver now runs multiple programs and, according to Hans Middag, Randstad’s director of learning and development, produces “remarkable results.”
“Our team has made unmistakable gains in clarity, creativity and confidence,” says Middag. “They now know their outcomes, and deliver a more on-point, action-based, attention-grabbing message, and they’ve achieved all this in a high-pressure environment in front of senior leadership.”
When Cisco Systems‘ Public Sector team was first coming together, it faced the challenge of conveying the Cisco message across 22 countries in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. This new leadership team would also be asked to operate on a more visible stage, addressing increasingly larger groups of people across a wider geographic span.
Cisco brought in Stand & Deliver to work with the top leadership team on raising their executive presence and command of live communication to a new level. Cisco Vice President Yvon Le Roux says, “In two days I saw transformational results. The Stand & Deliver training brought vitality and confidence to the quality of the team’s interactions with clients and partners. We immediately requested the training for over 150 additional people on the Public Sector team.”
A major European technology company that interacts with financial institutions needed to shift its focus from selling technology to providing a suite of solutions and a consultative process that broadened its value proposition. The leadership team was clear about the new message, but faced the challenge of getting the rest of company aligned.
Stand & Deliver worked with the company’s leaders to develop a clear, consistent message about the organization’s identity, how it brought value to clients and, most importantly, how the leaders could act as role models for the rest of the organization. In addition to creating a master narrative, we worked with the team on anticipating tough questions and responding strategically with clarity and connection. Finally, we led the team through intensive Q&A practice, with pointed, constructive feedback. Months after the training, they reported being more energized than ever as a leadership team; their behaviors are continuing to cascade throughout the company.
When a major American financial institution merged with a European counterpart, they brought together two distinct cultures that didn’t always mesh well, and collaboration and productivity were suffering. The Americans didn’t understand why their European colleagues took so long to reach consensus in decisions, and the Europeans were uncomfortable with the Americans’ abrupt, direct stlye and emphasis on hierarchy.
The organization faced a choice: continue to be victims of each others’ behavior, or move forward and address the gaps in cultural understanding and communication. The company asked Stand & Deliver to help them find a middle way. We took up the challenge by engaging the two groups in a deep exploration of their beliefs, behaviors, and styles, and then introducing novel, practical strategies for tapping into each others’ strengths instead of fixating on shortcomings. Months after the program, both groups reported decreased discord and higher levels of collaboration and connection.
The students in Dominican University’s teacher-training program face increasingly greater challenges in their chosen careers: class sizes are increasing; schools are enrolling more and more non-native English speakers from other countries; there is continuing pressure to integrate standards and prepare for testing — often at the expense of arts and other valuable parts of the curriculum.
In order to succeed as teachers, these future teachers must develop leadership presence. Stand & Deliver built a program to build teachers’ performative skills in front of the room — to help them tell better stories, to “hold a room,” speak with greater clarity, listen more attentively and react with greater purpose and agility. The Stand & Deliver course at Dominican is now a key part of the curriculum. Mary Ann Sinkkonen, assistant professor, says, “Peter provides the skills our students need with ease using modeling and feedback. Stand and Deliver is one of our students’ favorite courses.”
A large professional services firm had an opportunity to win one of the most sought-after accounts in Silicon Valley. Five of our client’s senior managers would be leading a half-day pitch to a technology giant. They were up against formidable competition for the account—and they could not afford to lose. The managers’ challenge was clear: they had to demonstrate not only that they had the required technical skill for the job, but that they could overcome their reputation for stiffness by demonstrating a collaborative spirit that would make the prospective client feel comfortable with their unique culture.
Stand & Deliver worked intensively with the presenting team to tailor their message to the particular needs of the client audience. Our faculty coached each manager on conveying a more personal, responsive style. We then applied our content architecture methodology to distill and refine a core message that would be most relevant to the buyer. Finally, we introduced methods the team could use to cultivate a dialogue (instead of a one-way presentation) during the pitch by stimulating questions and sparking interaction, with the goal of giving the client a taste for this company’s ability to listen and respond in real time.
The firm won the client, and has continued to invite Stand & Deliver to work with teams preparing for high-stakes presentations and pitches.
In the fall of 2008, a major bank asked Stand & Deliver to create greater alignment between senior members of the team in different regions. During a break on the first day of training, the participants were rattled with the news that their company’s stock price had just plummeted 25%.
Responding to this sudden, stark new reality, we brought the group back into the room and announced a new curriculum: crisis communication. Everyone knew that, when the bank’s leader’s left the room at the end of the day, reporters, analysts and shareholders would be clamoring for information. The way the bank’s leaders conducted themselves would have a defining impact on confidence in the organization — and its ability to rebound.
We worked with the managers on crafting a clear message that was open, honest and direct, focusing on facts, not speculation, and demonstrating key steps that the bank was taking to mitigate the crisis. With this critically timed preparation, the leaders were able to convey confidence and avert panic. Months later, the bank had restabilized, and its leaders continue to cultivate the calm, clear presence that had helped them emerge from crisis.
When Randstad’s CEO and senior executive team started to become increasingly exposed to public pressures and media demands, they called Stand & Deliver for intensive one-on-one coaching sessions. In a series of deep, rigorous consultations, we have worked with Randstad executives to enhance their natural voice, heighten presence, move beyond comfort zones, clarify their leadership vision and connect with people in a more vital, authentic way. The company’s senior leadership reports that their experience with Stand & Deliver is “one of the best training programs they ever have experienced.” Executive coaching has resulted in greater confidence and clarity in public presentations and interviews and, more importantly, a deeper sense of purpose and possibility among the team.
Stand & Deliver had been leading live leadership and communication programs at Cisco Systems for years when the financial crisis hit in 2007 and the company issued a moratorium on all of its travel. The blow was especially painful given that Cisco had invested significant resources in developing “heat maps” of the traits and skills they wanted to see in their next generation of leaders. It now appeared that they would not be able to capitalize on this information with any training that required travel.
Our partners at Cisco turned to us for ideas. Together, we developed a Virtual Academy that leveraged Cisco’s own technology, WebEx, and adapted Stand & Deliver high-performance communication training for a virtual environment, maintaining the critical intimacy and immediate feedback of our small-group sessions, even in a digital medium. The crisis turned into an unexpected opportunity, as Cisco has been able to bring Stand & Deliver training to greater numbers of its leaders. Now that live trainings have resumed at Cisco, we’ve also developed a critical tool, in the Virtual Academy, for managing costs, maintaining momentum and building skills in between our ongoing face-to-face work together.
Ernst & Young
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Edmonton Police Department, Canada
Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
Fireman’s Fund Corporation
San Antonio Community Hospital
Red Mountain Retail Group
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Bank of America
Frank Rimerman + Co.
Marin County Office of Education
Steefl, Levitt and Weiss
State Street Global Advisors
Del Mar Middle School
State Compensation Insurance Fund
The Office of the Governor of Delaware
Democratic Governors Association
Dominican University of California
Duke Corporate Education
The Nature Conservancy
Tilden Park Capital
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Third Point Capital
University of California San Francisco
Marin General Hospital
Hitachi Data Systems
Giesecke & Devrient
Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch
Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
IMD — International Institute for Management Development
Merck Serono S.A.
Venderlande Industries - Amsterdam