November 17, 2005

eCornell Partners With Blanchard

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eCornell and The Ken Blanchard Companies launched a partnership Nov. 8 to deliver leadership coaching to managers and other professionals eager to translate classroom learning into business initiatives.

Students signing up for this new program will spend three one-hour sessions with a professional coach to formulate personal business strategies, practice real-life scenarios and hone leadership skills. These sessions will take place over the telephone.

“It’s a natural extension of our courses,” said Ross Pearo, vice president of marketing and business development for eCornell. eCornell, a subsidiary of Cornell University, provides online education in leadership and strategy for 15,000 to 20,000 professionals.

The leadership coaching will teach managers “how to take what they learned and build that into their behaviors,” Pearo said.

The new program is headed by coaches from The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global leader in workplace learning and leadership, and will begin on Nov. 30.

To be eligible, students must have already completed two out of three eCornell certificate programs: Executive Leadership, Proactive Leadership or Business Leadership Skills for Human Resource Professionals.

Madeleine Homan, head of coaching services for The Ken Blanchard Companies, is one of the coaches for the new program.

She offered an example of how a coaching session might sound.

“Let’s say I’ve just taken the class on strategic thinking, and I’ve learned the [Boston Consulting Group] model,” she said.

The coach may ask the student how to use the matrix to prioritize products in his or her own company or how to turn around “question marks,” which are high-growth, low-market share products, into more profitable “cash cows” or “stars.”

Homan said that usually, students can develop ideas when probed by a coach, but the coach will also offer suggestions because “there’s a finite series of reasonable activities in the corporate world.”

Coaches will also provide students with feedback. If the idea is ridiculous and “not going to get [students] to where they want to go,” the coach may tell the student, “let’s look at this idea and let me share with you why it might not yield the results you are looking for,” Homan said.

According to Pearo, many current eCornell clients expressed interest in the leadership coaching program during the opening ceremony in San Jose, Calif. He estimated that over the program’s first six months, 100 to 150 students will sign up, with the enrollment likely to double later on.

Coaches are certified by the International Coach Federation or are well on their way to earning certification. They have experience as leaders of corporations and their own private coaching practices.

“Coaching became a real profession about 12 to 15 years ago,” Pearo said. “People figured out that if you were a good manager with high potential, having someone assist you with your best was a good investment.”

He added that in addition leadership coaching, eCornell is considering “blended learning with faculty members,” where Cornell professors will travel to a client company and help employees on-site.

eCornell plans to explore how to incorporate mobile technologies like cell phones and PDAs, as well as Internet resources like blogs and wikis, into its virtual classrooms.

Archived article by Xiaowei Cathy Tang
Sun Senior Editor