Angela McKenna, Senior Vice President of Talent at Salesforce, had her work cut out for her in 2020. And that was before the pandemic hit.

Salesforce’s robust leadership training, The Great Leader Method, was set to launch in February 2020. This program helps leaders develop critical skills by attending classes and participating in learning communities.

Then COVID-19 happened. With businesses closing and millions of people working from home, Angela had to rethink everything.

“We definitely had a lot of conversations around whether we were going to launch this Great Leader Method, what do we do now, how long is this going to go on for, does this feel right, right now?” explains Angela. But after serious soul-searching, the answer was obvious: “We took a position that leadership has never been more important than it is right now.”

In retrospect, Angela’s glad she bet on the Great Leader Method. It’s helped anchor Salesforce to what’s most important. “It has been a really grounding way of thinking about leadership for us,” she says.

At Forward, a virtual learning experience, Angela shared how the Great Leader Method helped Salesforce thrive during a crisis and what other leaders can learn from this program.

Forward On-Demand

Catch up on the Forward presentations from Angela McKenna and other leaders in HR and L&D.

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Salesforce’s framework for developing whole leaders

Salesforce’s Great Leader Method centers around three expectations of leadership:

First, a little myth-busting about the idea of inspiration. Angela recognizes this term can scare people away. She explains, “being an inspirational leader is about holding space for people.” It’s about including everyone’s voices. And, it’s about “being able to be creative during complexity and the times that we’re currently in.”

When it comes to results, Salesforce relies on the V2MOM framework. It stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. “Every single person at Salesforce writes a V2MOM,” says Angela, “It’s key to the company’s DNA.” So leaders at Salesforce must use the V2MOM approach to enable results.

Leaders also need to consider how their emotions and actions will impact their teams. This is especially important during times of uncertainty.

Angela believes developing empathy isn’t a “nice to have” skill — it’s critical. She says, “Being able to connect with people on a personal level is more important than it’s ever been.” When leaders build real relationships, their teammates and employees will trust their decisions. They’ll have a deep understanding that will allow them to drive the business forward.

Develop an effective, actionable method for feedback

How do leaders understand their own impact? Salesforce launched the Great Leader Survey to answer that question. This year, every single people manager received it.

Angela says this survey is different because it doesn’t just ask people how they feel. The Great Leader survey promotes self-reflection and understanding your impact. “It’s actually linked to what we call ‘development actions,'” says Angela. Now Salesforce can benchmark which questions drive the greatest impact.

Leaders also have the chance to share their own needs and requests through pulse surveys. This fosters open communication and ensures leaders get the help they need.

Spotlight leadership role models

Leadership is about action, not job title. So Salesforce strives to spotlight different people from around the business. During the all-leader call each month for managers throughout the company, the talent team invites different leaders to take the stage each time. These leaders share their tips on finding balance and how to drive results while remaining empathetic. They also cover topics like self-regulation, managing others, and the impact of the shadow leaders cast on their teams.

Angela recognizes that “for many of us, it feels like we’re doing a completely different job.” This is why having these open conversations has become so important.

Cultivate a leadership community that learns from one another

Great leaders don’t exist in silos — they build relationships with others. Angela says, “The leadership community that we’ve created enables our leaders to help each other. We encourage them to post their own tips and tricks.”

There are two main benefits to this approach. It makes leaders more invested and active in the community. And it means leaders get advice from their peers and not just the HR team. In other words, everyone wins!

Lead your teams to better management

Angela’s story reminds us that leadership skills are critically important. When you ground your leaders with firm values and transferable skills, they’re better equipped to take on any challenges the world throws at them.

Looking for ways to continue to develop the leaders at your organization? With a Udemy for Business subscription, you can empower employees to learn anytime, anywhere. Create customized learning paths for people managers to develop essential leadership skills. Get in touch to learn more.