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Designing a Utility Leadership Development Program

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Four years ago, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) set out to develop a leadership program to improve employee performance and to create an organizational culture that would effectively lead the utility into the future. This paper discusses how the program was designed and developed and the outcomes that were achieved.

SPU's Leadership Program, entitled Directions, has led to improvements in participants abilities to take risks, remain customer focussed, and lead and develop others at all levels of the organization. Directions was designed to improve leadership from the top down through the organization and was based on a concept that there are “leaders at large” with in an organization the utility wants to develop and encourage.

As of June 2003, the following were some of the observed successes of the program:



200 employees have participated in the Directions leadership program


All participants received an average of 60 hours of leadership training


95 alumni have been engaged in Alumni Forums


75 alumni have taken a 360 degree self evaluation for a second time to measure the individual improvement in leadership progress


Opinion within the utility about leadership has notably improved and is a topic frequently discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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