Magazine News Blogger

Fall 2009

Founder of the RBL Group talks about effective leadership

The founder of one of the top leadership development companies in the world was a Dean’s Convocation speaker in March 2009.

Norm Smallwood (Photo by Steve Eaton)

Norm Smallwood, who was speaking to a combined audience of students and participants in a Partners In Business seminar, talked about the importance of leadership development and some of the things his company has discovered with its research.

In the year 2000, Smallwood, along with Dave Ulrich, founded The RBL Group, with the intention of bringing a greater focus on results to the field of leadership development.

In 2005 and 2006, The RBL Group was ranked as the No. 1 leadership development firms in the world by the publication Leadership Excellence. Smallwood was selected as one of the “Top 100 Voices in Leadership” by Executive Excellence magazine in February 2005, 2006 and 2007.

“We found that as we talked to people, there are five things that all effective leaders need to be able to do,” Smallwood said. “They need to be strategists, executors, talent managers, human capital developers and at the heart of everything they do, they need to have personal proficiency.”

He talked to them about developing a leadership brand where people have faith in an organization’s capability to make the right decisions. He said a company has a weak brand or culture when its behavior can’t match its marketing pitch.

“The brand isn’t just the marketing vehicle, it’s the behavior of the employees so the culture resonates with the customers,” he said.

He said all organization have a brand, whether they like it or not. To change a brand the first question that should be asked is: “How do we want this company, how do we want this organization to be known by its target customers and what do leaders have to do to make that real to employees and the customer?”