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MDA Leadership Consulting

Function Leader Development Experience

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Organizational performance is increasingly tied to the performance of function leaders. Leadership development efforts focused on function leaders can have a major payoff for organizations. To be successful, function leaders must be adept at numerous roles. MDA research highlights several of the most challenging roles for those transitioning from leading teams to leading functions and a number of the behavioral requirements within those roles that represent the biggest development opportunities.

“The typical CEO’s team has expanded dramatically in the past generation due to an increased reliance on functional leaders. The average is 10 direct reports, with nearly three-quarters of the increase attributed to functional managers…” (J.M. Wulf, et al., Management Science article, 2014).

In other words, the career path of the function leader leads increasingly to the senior leadership table, with positions like CMO, CFO, CHRO, etc. Function leader development is an investment in those who play a central role in the current success of the business and will play an increasingly more critical role in its future success.

Why Attend FLDE?

Organizations seldom provide support for function leader development. Targeted developmental experiences, such as assessment, strong experientially-based formal learning programs, and cross-functional action learning projects can better equip function leaders to maximize their development and contributions.

A Unique Development Experience

MDA’s Function Leader Development Experience (FLDE) is a comprehensive development program based on those factors most predictive of excellence in a functional role. Participants receive deep developmental insights through multiple assessments, pre-program alignment and coaching meetings, and post-program development coaching. The three-day program experience includes experientially based learning, simulations, practical tools, insights from world-class faculty and a network of highly accomplished and motivated peers. FLDE offers participants a unique strategic perspective as well as effective operational tactics, tools and frameworks to help them lead more effectively and increase their function’s strategic contributions to the organization’s overall success.

Five Roles Most Critical to Success

Why focus on roles rather than competencies? Because leaders experience their work as exercising different roles and can more clearly draw lines between their roles and the business outcomes they need. Roles create a solid basis for development planning. The goal is to improve the performance of your roles in ways that directly impact the business rather than to improve your ratings on discrete competencies.

The Right Investment

The unique value and influence of leaders who are leading a function has never been stronger. Today the function leader is a linchpin position and has arguably the greatest impact on overall business performance. Operating with increased spans of responsibility in flatter, more complex businesses, today’s function leader must possess both deep specialized knowledge and work effectively across boundaries with the skills, attributes and business acumen of the traditional general manager.

That’s why smart organizations invest in the function leader level of their talent pipeline. They experience a big performance payoff today and an even bigger payoff tomorrow, as the career path of many function leaders leads increasingly to a place at the CEO’s table.


Participants will learn how to:

Identify and increase the strategic contributions and value of their function for the overall organization

Apply tools and techniques as well as a proven change framework for more effective change implementation

Develop a talent mindset and use best-practice processes and tools for attracting, retaining and developing key talent

Influence more effectively across boundaries by establishing presence, credibility, alignment and buy-in among diverse stakeholders

Accelerate the pace of execution, raise the level of their team’s energy, and ensure greater follow through

Focus on the right development targets to improve their leadership effectiveness in the short- and long-term

Key Business Outcomes

  • Strategist

Ability to bridge where the function is now with where it needs to go

  • Change Leader

Acts as a skillful sponsor and champion of effective change initiatives

  • Talent Manager

Applies the mindset and tools to attract, develop and retain key talent

  • Internal Influencer

Thinks and works collaboratively across functions to influence

  • Results Driver

Achieves consistent, timely, high quality results through others

Who should attend

Someone who is serving as a function leader – such as a director or vice president – and may be:

  • New to a leadership role
  • In consideration for a leadership role
  • In a leadership role, but wants to become a stronger leader


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