Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: Optimas Gold Winner for Training

By Frank Kalman

Dec. 9, 2013

Optimas 2013

When Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. restructured its business in 2007 to focus on becoming a premium tire supplier to target market segments — opposed to its previous volume-supplier model — the company knew it needed a new leadership profile with skills apt to spearhead the change.

To Amy Alexy, the Akron, Ohio-based company’s director of learning and talent development, the shift also created an opportunity to deepen its leadership bench and transform the organization into an environment where teams could quickly refine strategies to fluctuating market conditions. Before, Goodyear’s goal had always been to identify two “ready now” candidates for each senior position. But when push came to shove, such candidates were rarely prepared to lead when their number was called.Goodyear

As a result, the company sought to create a leadership development strategy that would address two sets of employees. One would be focused on high potentials, with the aim of closing the senior leadership gap and accelerating business transformation. The second would address emerging leaders and managers, which would nurture a culture of learning across all levels in the organization.

The answer: Goodyear’s Great Leader Academy, a leadership framework aimed to address development across all management levels. The most notable part of the program would be focused on high potentials. The program also would tap Harvard Business Publishing, which Goodyear chose for both curriculum design and program implementation.

Through a learning needs analysis, the company identified core skills for the high-potential program, which is called the Senior Leadership Development Program. The firm’s HR department worked with its executive team to form 10 competencies; combined with Goodyear’s five leadership traits, these would become the skills measured within its management population.

The competencies include: financial acumen, accountability and strategic planning. The leadership traits include being able to build talent and teams around them, solving problems and delivering results.

In just a couple of years, Goodyear shifted from losing millions of dollars to achieving its most profitable year ever. The company says the leadership program has been a major contributor to this success. Roughly half of the first group in the program received new assignments or increased responsibilities. Of those, 28 percent made lateral moves or changed the scope of their role, while 22 percent received promotions.

“We’ve become a more open, collaborative culture,” Alexy said of the program’s effort, “and people are reaching outside of their functional areas to get knowledge. People are less afraid to ask questions and get in areas that they might not be experts in.”

For creating a leadership development program that led to successful bottom-line results, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is the 2013 Optimas Award winner for Training.

Frank Kalman is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email Follow Kalman on Twitter at @FaKalman.

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