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High Potential Development the Southwest Way

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

I shared a post earlier this year about a high potential leadership development program at Southwest Airlines, called Managers-in-Training Level II, that we affectionately call MIT II. It's been around for more than 30 years, and in 2009 got a significant overhaul with continuous improvements annually.

MIT has been a delight in my career to retool, manage, support and oversee. Participants enter the program with a fervor for self-development and we get to try innovative new approaches to leadership development. It's a one-of-a-kind program, that has contributed to the success of many senior leaders at Southwest. It's just the kind of program that we should unpack and share with others.

There are seven articles in this series and each post shares key design elements with insight for you to apply to your learning and training programs:

An introduction to the Managers-in-Training (MIT) Level II Program at Southwest that supports the development of talent moving into the Director-level of leadership. This post covers how the team tackled a major update to the program.

A model anchors a learning program and provides context to learners. In this case, it's a leadership development model for high potential leaders centered on authenticity.

Lots of folks ask about what goes into the development of the MIT program at Southwest. I've talked about it at conferences and webinars over the years. Here I've shared the principles that we use to develop the curricula and other design particulars. If you're looking for the secret sauce to what makes the program effective and successful, this is the post.

You create game-changing learning programs. You need to let employees know about them. This post shares examples of how we tackled that with the MIT Level II program.

Action learning is a terrific way to build hands-on learning experiences while also providing business value. In this article I tell you about our approach at Southwest.

Learning by doing is at the heart of experiential learning. As a capstone experience of the MIT Level II program, we get away from the day-to-day to spend a few days learning through experiences and summarizing the program for the year.

Assessing and calculating ROI (return on investment) for talent programs can be tricky. It takes a well thought out strategy, and this article features a recap of how we structured an assessment for the MIT Level II program.

Today's environment is certainly interesting. MIT II as we've known it will likely not look the same, as we tackle learning in virtual environments. And that's ok. Elements such as anchoring on a model, identifying clear learning objectives and utilizing action learning are still important. How we craft and deliver learning solutions will look different, and what fun to be creating in today's disruptive environment. You've been wanting to extend your reach and lean in to innovative solutions - now is your time!

As always, if you've got questions on MIT or other talent programs, I'd love to hear from you. Cheers!


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