Leading Together

At Adobe, leadership isn’t just for the executives.

In most companies, you could divide the workforce like this: The leadership makes the important decisions, and the rank-and-file carries out the marching orders. That might work well for some organizations. But when your company culture is all about doing exceptional things and getting involved at the corporate and community levels, that division of leader-and-follower doesn’t make sense.

Adobe has always provided training to employees who want to grow as leaders, but now that growth opportunity is even more accessible—and it’s accessible to everyone. A new training program called Leadership Success is empowering employees across the company to get leadership training how they want it, when they want it. It features a vast online library packed with videos, guides, and toolkits. It offers virtual training labs and a guest speaker series.

The result is that every employee can cultivate leadership skills on their own terms.

“The beauty of this program is that it’s for every single employee, not just for people managers,” says Jeff Vijungco, vice president of Global Talent. “This is Adobe’s commitment to developing the best leadership qualities in all our employees. We want to be known in the industry as a company that develops great leaders.”

The Leadership Success program focuses on training employees in five areas:

1. Demonstrating strong EQ

Smarts matter, but being emotionally smart matters most. Leaders need the ability to correctly interpret their emotions and the emotions of others—and understand how those emotions are affecting behavior.

“Having a strong EQ is really about inspiring the best in yourself and, even more important, inspiring the best in others,” says Lisa G., head of Americas Channels, Worldwide Field Operations.

2. Selecting talent

Selecting talent isn’t just for recruiters and hiring managers. Even when you’re referring a potential employee or putting together a team, you have to know how to spot talent.

“Hiring the right talent makes a huge difference,” says Trisha C., director of Executive Search, People Resources. “Look for people with intellectual curiosity and a desire to have an impact.”

3. Role-modeling Check-in

Last year, Adobe did away with the dreaded performance review. Instead, employees and managers engage in frequent “check-ins,” which entail setting clear expectations, giving regular feedback—both positive and constructive—and no ratings or rankings. It’s a more encouraging environment, and it has made people happier and more productive.

“Checking in with your team and giving feedback in the moment allow you to have a much more candid conversation,” says Toni V., director of Quality and Service Management. “Feedback has to go both ways.”

4. Leading change

In an industry as fast-paced as technology, you can’t be afraid of change. That’s doubly true when you work for a technology company that often charts the course that the rest of the industry follows.

“The people I’ve seen who have been successful are the ones who are able to embrace change, take risks, and make big bets based on information they have at that moment in time,” says Chris K., senior director, Account Management and Solution Consulting.

5. Scaling the business

In many large companies, employees might feel like a cog in an enormous wheel. At Adobe, employees take ownership of their part of the company as though it’s their own business.

“Scaling the business means having a bias towards action and taking informed risks,” says Danny W., VP and GM of Customer Engagement, Digital Media. “We’ll sometimes make mistakes, but we can iterate quickly and course-correct. As long as people understand the strategy and their role, most employees will excel when empowered to take action without being told what to do.”

Cover photo by Todd Burke (Adobe photographer)