Business Training Experts’ Beginnings and The Creation of The Leadership Journey™
Who Has Time to Attend a Seminar?
In the late ‘90s, before founding Business Training Experts, Scott Ulberg was working for an international company that offered half- and full-day training seminars.
Scott found his clients were frequently requesting in-house training so they could decide when and where training would take place. He discovered businesses were looking to accomplish more with fewer resources. They could no longer afford to keep employees away from their jobs, even for a few hours.
Establishing the First Corporate Lending Library
Based on these changing industry needs, Scott and the owner of the seminar business co-founded a new in-house training company.
Together, they built one of the first corporate lending libraries, licensing over 500 courses in twenty-five subjects from 120 of the world’s top professional speakers, trainers, and content publishers. Organizations could then lease the entire library of courses.
This new company grew quickly, gaining steady profits and a loyal client base. Entrepreneur Magazine and Dun & Bradstreet ranked it a Hot 100 company.
Lending Libraries Shortcomings Lead to a Shift
Leveraging their success, the majority shareholder accepted an offer to sell control to a large international company. However, not long after the sale, client retention began declining. Surveys and focus groups shed light on the issues many clients had with lending libraries:
- Numerous courses weren’t getting used. There were too many to choose from, overwhelming students.
- There was no concrete learning path for students to follow when building a skill set.
- Each course publisher used a different learning model, causing students to lose focus when taking multiple courses.
As a result, students weren’t developing the skills they needed to be effective at their jobs.
Developing a User-Friendly Learning Management System
Based on this information, a decision was made to strategically shift the business model. The focus changed from content to delivery. A new learning management system (LMS) was developed to make it easier for students to access courses and for training administrators to assign learning paths.
Autocratic Leadership Causes Internal Crisis
Along with this strategic shift, a new president was brought on board to replace the original co-founder. As vice president of product development, Scott was excited to help steer this change from a content company to an LMS company.
His enthusiasm quickly faded when he realized the new president was domineering and didn’t fit the culture Scott and his co-founder built.
Scott didn’t want to work for an autocratic leader that behaved like a dictator, and others felt the same. Over the next few months, the executive team he and his original partner spent years cultivating left the company, as did many top-performing employees and sales professionals.
Within 60 days, Scott went from absolutely loving his job to hating it—all because of one bad leader.
An Inspirational Mission to Create Better Bosses Is Born
The new president was intelligent, motivated, and technically skilled. He wasn’t a bad person; he just didn’t know how to lead well and manage other people. His lack of leadership skills created an unpleasant and unhealthy workplace.
Experiencing firsthand how poor leadership increased turnover, reduced productivity, and drained company profits, Scott recognized the importance of leadership development within a company.
Realizing other people were likely in similar situations, Scott wondered what could be done about it and decided he could help. He made it his mission to improve people’s lives by creating better bosses.
He resigned from the company and began researching and designing the most impactful way to train poor leaders and transform them into productive ones.
Business Training Experts Sets a New Training Standard
In 2002, Scott founded Business Training Experts (BTE).
With his knowledge and experience in the seminar and training library industries, he knew he wanted to develop an in-house leadership training program that focused on the practical skills supervisors and managers need to be high-performing leaders.
Providing leadership training for supervisors and managers, rather than executives, allowed him to positively impact the most people.
He understood that employees are often promoted to supervisory and management positions because of their job and technical skills rather than their leadership potential.
Scott and a team of producers, developers, and instructional designers assembled the following list of seven requirements for this new training program:
Seven Key Requirements of In-house Leadership Training
- Turnkey: A complete program with all the resources any organization in any industry would need and it has to be customizable.
- Repeatable Roadmap: A precise step-by-step program needs to provide repeatable and predictable results.
- Short Courses: Bite-sized courses teach just the right amount of information without overwhelming any participants.
- Practical Skills: The program needs to share useful how-to skills (not theory) so supervisors are excited to learn relevant information applicable to their workplace.
- Structured Learning: A set curriculum with a clear learning path makes the program easy to follow.
- Flexible Delivery: Organizations need to be able to decide when, where, and how they want their supervisors and managers to learn. Participants receive the same consistent message regardless of delivery method, whether via group, online, virtual, or blended learning.
- Group Materials: Group-based discussion guides and practice exercises have to be included for classroom sessions and for clients who want to reinforce online or virtual learning.
*The list has been modified with today’s technology and implementation methods.
Launching The Leadership Journey™
With this list of requirements, Scott and his team published The Leadership Journey: a one-of-a-kind in-house leadership development program that organizations can use to train their supervisors and managers in leadership skills, like effective communication, handling conflict, and ensuring accountability.
Why Isn’t Everyone a Raving Fan?
As the number of organizations using The Leadership Journey grew, Scott noticed some clients became enthusiastic fans who achieved enormous success and a high ROI, but others didn’t.
- How could The Leadership Journey make such an impact at one company and not another?
- What was the difference between the two, and how could BTE close the gap?
Two Essential Learning Steps Enhance the Program
Before publishing the next version of The Leadership Journey, the team did some research. They found that the companies who achieved the highest ROI incorporated two important steps to the learning process:
- Supervisors walked away from every training session with a concrete action plan detailing how to apply their new skills in the workplace.
- Supervisors were held accountable for applying their action plans on the job, thereby ensuring a long-term positive behavior change.
Since then, every version of The Leadership Journey follows our propriety burst learning model that includes personal action plans for workplace application and follow-up tools for accountability.
Thanks to this update, clients using The Leadership Journey and our burst learning model along with the action plans and follow-up now earn an average of 5.9x their return on investment and regularly give the program high praise.
Our goal is to ensure supervisors and managers have access to the most efficient and successful training program so they can continue positively contributing to their workplace.
As technology advances and more in-depth research is published on adult learning, Business Training Experts will continue to refine its burst learning model so clients can achieve the maximum return on their investment.
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