Essentials of Business Leadership Transforming new or experienced managers into elective leaders

Business Leadership Program Benefits

The established and accepted definition for the role of a manager has, for a long time, been:

A manager’s job is to achieve results through the voluntary (discretionary) actions of others.”

The pressures of being an effective manager and achieving results are greater than ever. As a popular acronym puts it, today’s managers and leaders are operating in a “VUCA”-environment (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, and Ambiguous). While this modern “VUCA”-world might seem to necessitate the invention of entirely new leadership development approaches, what is actually required is to, first, ensure that managers have mastered the basics of leadership.

Requirements of today’s manager are similar to those of being a pilot. Aircraft have grown ever-more complex. The cockpit of a modern aircraft is filled with computerized systems that require ever-increasing knowledge and skill of the pilot. However, the aerodynamics that keep a single engine, recreational, general aviation pilot safe and on course are the same basic aerodynamics that keep the most modern, sophisticated, and complex commercial jet-liner safe and flying. As complexity, challenges, and even emergencies arise, every pilot relies on their fundamental training and skills to, first and foremost, “fly the plane.” (Every six months, seasoned pilots are required to practice the fundamentals in flight simulators, solving for “what-if” scenarios.)

Today’s managers require the same development in the leadership essentials should they ever expect to safely and successfully chart a course for achieving results. No matter how challenging the work environment becomes, they must be able to “fly the plane.”

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “essential”: Noun (usually essentials): a thing that is absolutely necessary

Essentials of Business Leadership is a discovery-based learning program specifically designed to equip new and seasoned managers with the tools, techniques, and mindset necessary to lead direct reports to high performance. This program helps participants understand the business context of their new role as well as how their leadership can impact an organization’s bottom line.

Essentials of Business Leadership enables managers to:

  • Gain greater fluency in their role as a people leader, their importance to strategy execution, and the expectations of others for their success in the role
  • Gain fluency in understanding the core essentials to successful people leadership and how to apply them to achieve business results
  • Practice how to establish individual and team goals that align with the organization’s strategy
  • Analyze performance based on the situation and then appropriately tailor the leadership approach as required in that situation to maximize outcomes
  • Make effective business decisions while balancing competing needs and responsibilities
  • Practice the skill of delivering performance feedback and coaching
  • Analyze how and when to effectively delegate with accountability

The ability to deliver timely, accurate specific feedback and the ability to unlock a person’s potential through coaching are core to the successful manager."

Program Description

Essentials of Business Leadership is a two-day program that builds a new or experienced leader’s essential skills in becoming an effective business leader through a combination of interactive, engaging activities that utilize map technology along with a robust computer-based simulation experience.

Prior to each practice cycle in the four rounds of simulation, participants engage in discovery learning where they uncover critical information vital to the essentials of new and seasoned managers alike. Participants deepen their understanding by applying this new knowledge in each subsequent round of the simulation and through practice applications.


Participants assess their management skills by reflecting on their areas of success and opportunities for development. They reflect on the misconceptions about the role of a manager. Participants further consider the expectations of their organizations, teams, and customers.

Simulation Round 1

Teams are introduced to Round 1 of the interactive business simulation. Each table team takes on the role of “manager,” coaching their new simulation team. The simulation provides users with the opportunity to explore managerial issues, make critical decisions, and receive immediate feedback in a realistic, risk-free/safe environment. A rich and in-depth debrief follows each of the simulation rounds. Facilitators assist participants in making learning links from the simulation back to their real jobs.

Building the Essentials

According to the Conference Board, a perennial concern for CEOs is the lack in their organizations of effectively executing on strategy. Through our client work, and after a two-year research project, BTS has formulated the core components to successful strategy execution. In this module, participants gain knowledge of these key strategy execution elements, they also examine their role in transforming strategy into action.

Introduction to The Essentials
Participants next discover, discuss, and then assess themselves in the seven core Leadership Essentials.

  • Setting Expectations
  • Increasing Engagement
  • Influencing Others
  • Providing Feedback
  • Coaching & Developing Others
  • Delegation
  • Leading Through Change

Influence and Ownership
Participants drill deeply into understanding and building skill in each of the essentials. The first exploration is the performance drivers of Influence and Ownership. In this module, managers discover those things that are within the “control”/or ownership of the manager, and those other things – such as employee engagement – that they only Influence (albeit sometimes significantly).

Increasing Engagement
Participants next examine the “discretionary”-aspect of obtaining performance from others. The level of engagement is a choice of the performer. In this module, participants first unpack the elements that drive performance engagement and then uncover the actions of a manager that help increase employee engagement.

Optimizing Performance
Participants then spend time determining the actions managers must take to effectively leverage their influence and control. They discover a subset of drivers for how to most effectively leverage their time and resources to obtain maximum performance from others by setting clear performance expectations and goals upon which they can be held accountable.

Delivering Feedback
Perhaps the most vital among the essentials is mastering coaching and feedback. The ability to deliver timely, accurate specific feedback and the ability to unlock a person’s potential through coaching are core to the successful manager. The program addresses these two essentials as separate topics to ensure powerful skill building in each. Participants first learn the nuances and differences between feedback and coaching. They then discover and practice a three-step process for identifying and delivering feedback that is objective and behaviorally based. Participants also learn how to deliver feedback in a non-threatening, collaborative manner.

Simulation Round 2

Day One ends with participants returning to the simulated world to complete round two. Round two grows more complex and challenges the participants to apply much of the knowledge they’ve just gained. Both the simulation round and Day One conclude with participants completing action plans on how to take back learning from the day to their regular jobs.

Round 2 Debrief

Communication Styles
Participants continue building their capabilities in feedback and coaching by exploring the topic of communication preferences – first, discovering their own preferred way of communication; then learning to discern the preferences of others and tailoring performance conversations to match their preferences for increased impact.

Day 2

Welcome Back
Day Two picks up with a quick review and refresh of the key learnings from Day One. Participants are encouraged to share their action plans for applying the essentials back on the real job.

Coaching as defined in EBL is about “un-locking the potential” in others. Hence, participants discover that coaching runs along a continuum from “directive” to “guided”. Managers learn how to first determine the situational requirements which drive the appropriate coaching approach to be taken. They also learn a simple and easy-to-master four-step coaching process for organizing and delivering the coaching message—the ROPE coaching model.

Simulation Round 3

In Round 3 of the simulation teams must determine which coaching strategies will be most effective as their simulation team encounters increasing pressure to deliver results while complexity and responsibilities of the team increase. The table teams (acting as the simulated manager) must practice balancing multiple concurrent demands for executing on goals while still developing their people.

Coaching Application
Participants are provided multiple opportunities to apply and practice this critical and important leadership essential.

The next essential is the key that allows an individual contributor to move from managing just themselves to becoming a manager of people. As discussed in the opening, a manager accomplishes results through the actions and performance of others. To be successful, a manager must master the ability to delegate tasks along with the proper responsibility and authority to others. In this module, participants assess their current strengths and weaknesses when it comes to delegating. They then discover a set of delegation best practices to be applied with their real work teams.

Leading through Change
Traditional change management has given way to the need for managers to address change on a consistent basis. In this module, managers explore a model for change leadership that:

  • First, raises their awareness for the nature and elements of change
  • Explores the natural human reactions to change
  • Addresses the leadership skills required to cope with the emotional reactions while minimizing dips in productivity

The last essential examined is the art of influence. As organizations become more matrixed and performance is accomplished ever increasingly through teams, the ability to first listen, learn, and then advance ideas through influence becomes a fundamental skill for achieving results.

Simulation Round 4

Participants experience the most complexity in Round 4 of the simulation. They complete their final responsibilities of managing the simulated team and see the outcomes of their decisions. Reviewing the balanced scorecard from the simulation provides a powerful framework for reflection on key learnings from their simulated leadership experience to apply back on the job.

Program Debrief

Participants debrief the two-day session, discussing the new mindsets and behaviors they will bring back to their roles. They commit to an action plan using the ASMART goals, and consider the impacts that achieving this plan will have for them, their team, and their organization.


This program is designed for new and experienced managers who are seeking to enhance their essential leadership skills.

Implementation and Customization

Essentials of Business Leadership is a two-day program. The workshop requires one trained facilitator per three teams of six people each. Hardware requirements are either provided by the client or arranged through BTS.

About BTS

BTS focuses on the people side of strategy, working with leaders at all levels to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions and deliver results. At our core, we believe people learn best by doing. For 30 years, we’ve been designing fun, powerful experiences™ that have profound and lasting impact on people and their careers. We inspire new ways of thinking, build critical capabilities and unleash business success.
It’s strategy made personal.

Contact Us to Learn More