THE POTENTIAL TO BE BETTER

interview by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Anthony Georgieff

Ellie Dimova, CEO of Wilson Learning Bulgaria, on the importance of holistic approach to human performance improvement

Ellie Dimov.jpg

Just like families, companies might look the same but each of them is different, with its own structure, leaders, individuals working in teams, goals and problems. Wilson Learning Worldwide, a global leader in human performance improvement, knows this well and invests significant efforts in the development of know-how for solutions in the fields of sales effectiveness, leadership effectiveness, and individual and team development. Ten years ago, Wilson Learning Bulgaria arrived at the local market, bringing their crucial and innovative knowledge in assessment of human potential and development of business competencies for the needs of the Bulgarian business companies.

CEO Ellie Dimova has been with the company since its introduction in Bulgaria.

What expertise did Wilson Learning Worldwide bring to Bulgaria?
We still take great pride in what decades ago was a radical, breakthrough approach to selling that shaped a mindset and a skill set for salespeople to create "Win-Win" outcomes for their clients. The founder of the company, Larry Wilson, is the person who introduced the consultant's approach to sales, a model of relationship with a focus on problem solving attitude. A successful sales person should know how his clients prefer to do business. Using this knowledge, he can offer solutions for more effective sales. Wilson Learning is one of the few global companies in the field in Bulgaria that introduced know-how in development of human potential. We at Wilson Learning know the concrete context of the business of our client companies. Our team of consultants understand the business processes and relations because we once also used to be in the roles that our clients are in today. We work with the organisations to understand their specific issues, strategies, processes, offering and their customers before we suggest a solution. We are one of the few consulting companies offering a one-stop-shop model, with expertise from skill gap analysis to development and sustainment in leadership, sales, individual and team effectiveness. All our solutions are based on our deep knowledge of the business environment and dynamics globally. Wilson Learning Worldwide has its own Research & Development department, where real-life business and behavioural models are studied, analysed and synthesised until they become working development solutions. If a company implements our models properly, it will capitalise on that resulting in higher margins, greater sales productivity, increased ability to stave off competitive threats, better leadership. We approach every business partnership with a "Win-Win" mindset and know that the business of our clients is unique. While we provide "off-the-shelf" solutions, we offer much more to those clients with unique needs. Our solutions reflect the specifics of Bulgarian business climate and culture.

What are the differences in consulting a big and a small company?
The approach is the same. In Wilson Learning we apply a holistic approach to human performance improvement. It has several specific steps. We analyse the context of our client's business, the company's strategy to achieve their middle and long-term strategical goals, its structure, etc. We evaluate the status-quo: how the client achieves their goals with their present potential and employees. We help our clients link the company strategy with the potential of their employees. This link is crucial. If that is not achieved then companies do not see the investment in employee development as meaningful.

After the evaluation, we create and implement an optimal solution for our client to achieve the objectives agreed together. This is a process that can take some time, at its end we evaluate the progress, the successes, and the return on investment (ROI). This holistic approach we apply for all companies regardless of their size. The difference is in the solutions.

How do you develop leadership potential in your clients' companies?
Most people think that leaders are born and should inevitably possess mythical charisma and vision. While there is a grain of truth in that, we at Wilson Learning believe that almost every person can develop their leadership potential and skills, provided that they wish and are conscious about it. For Wilson Learning, the purpose of a leader is to engage others in committing their full energy to the creation of value and success. Wilson Learning has an integrated model of leadership development that takes in notion two important factors: the leadership character and the leadership form. We recognise three levels of leadership: Strategic Leadership, Growth Leadership and Performance Leadership. That means that to develop the leadership potential it has to be evaluated first, and then to focus on the respective leadership skills development.

We at Wilson Learning promote with our clients the philosophy of shared leadership, the potential of each of the members in a team to become a leader in a specific situation under certain circumstances. We believe that the strength of a team is in the communication synergy between its members, it allows them to capitalise on their uniqueness, differences and similarities, shared vision and goals.

What do you offer to companies to improve their sales effectiveness?
Our expertise in solutions for sales improvement are very strong. Our programmes are long-term. Before offering a solution, we analyse our client's sales process and structure, which is unique for each company. Then we again apply a holistic approach: we evaluate the potential of the team and the goals they need to achieve. Our solutions are usually customised and introduce the needed behavioural models for the sales process of our client that will ensure increased productivity. We apply a blended approach to maximise the learning transfer experience. When you need to develop leadership and/or sales effectiveness, the programmes are usually long term solutions but with a foreseeable future.

Ellie Dimova, CEO of Wilson Learning BulgariaHow the development of individual and team effectiveness relies to the leadership and sales effectiveness?
They are interdependent. Individual effectiveness is a solution for the development of a given person; a popular example of individual effectiveness training programs are time management and presentational skills for example. Yet, although individual, they have their impact on the leadership and sales performance. In individual effectiveness, several elements have to be analysed in order to evaluate where the person stands in his or her professional role. We need to profile the character, attitudes, aspirations, motivators, and others to see the potential. The character is our invisible part. Our consultants use one of the most vanguard and proven personality profile to identify a person’s attributes.

What separates the effective from the highly effective individual is a core set of skills that a person acquires over his or her career, crossing from job to job, role to role. These "transferable skills" accumulate as an individual gains experience, takes advantage of development opportunities, and learns from mentors and coaches. While we often spend years, developing our work talents, we tend to disregard the importance of developing these transferable skills. Numerous studies have shown that these skills account for the majority of differences in individuals' job performance. At Wilson Learning we have grouped them and develop the core skill domains Purposeful Communication, Inspired Thinking and Fulfilled Self.

In team development, the steps, analyses and interventions are similar. We start with analysis of each member of the team, as we need to know how this team appeared, where it stands now, and where it wants to go. This is very helpful, and we have excellent know-how for team development. One of our solutions for team scape analysis and development has no parallel in Bulgaria. Once the team picture is identified we approach a solution adequate for that team. All of our solutions are individual, as there are no two teams or companies that are alike. We offer a flexible approach to all learning initiatives. This includes virtual and modular delivery, the ability to integrate our client's principles and current models into our programs and complete customisation capability.

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