South-Western - Management  
High Scores in the Leadership Game
Topic Leadership
Key Words Leadership training and development
News Story

Electronic Arts is a $2.5 billion, 4,500 employee electronic arts company. It is a leader in its field, but has struggled with finding the creative and business leadership to capitalize on its growth. In a first-generation industry, there is no existing body of knowledge about how to run the business. The company could not go out and recruit new employees with the necessary experience and knowledge. Current leaders in the field are self-taught, there haven't been degrees or certificates in the craft, and no product-development or operational practices have been established.

The organization decided they needed to develop their own program to train leaders within the company. It launched a program called Emerging Leaders to develop the next generation. The program has been operating seven years. More than two-thirds of the participants have been promoted or taken on significantly more responsibility. They also have a higher retention rate than those who have not participated.

Participants meet once a month for six months attending presentations, Q&A sessions, and lunch and dinner meetings to discuss problems and give feedback on company practices, opportunities and challenges.

Based on the success of the program, Electronic Arts began offering a Creative Leaders program two years ago for game designers, developers, and marketers. Participants meet once a quarter for six to eight quarters. They attend skills-building workshops and study with professors from MIT's Comparative Media Studies Department to learn how other entertainment genres capture and hold an audience's attention, and apply those techniques to a digital environment.

In a study of 730 CEOs, developing and retaining leaders ranked in the top three management issues. Companies need to invest in their leaders to avoid having to go outside and pay for talent.

Questions
1.

How is Electronic Arts developing leaders within the company?

2.

Why is it important for a company to spend money on leadership development?

Source "High Scores in the Leadership Game,"Workforce Management, December, 2003, p. 55.
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