Case Study: Ingram Content Group; Preparing LEADers for the Future- A Leadership Development Strategy

By Kathy Miller on June 27th, 2013

Throughout 2012, the Ingram Content Group (ICG) embarked on an innovative leadership development process for their first line leaders. They partnered with Miller Consultants to design and develop the program, which their own internal personnel delivered. January 2013 marks the final graduation of Operations Leads from the year-long program called “LEAD” (Leading, Engaging, Achieving, and Developing).

This program focused on enhancing the skills of over 90 first level leaders in the distribution centers and manufacturing facilities across the United States as well as the skills of their Supervisors and Managers. LEAD combined classroom training for Leads plus training and guidance for Supervisors and Managers on how to help prepare their Leads before class as well as create action plans to practice what was learned in class. The benefits of the LEAD program are improvements across Ingram.

“The workplace is changing,” said Johnny Secrest, Chief Logistics Officer, Global Operations, Ingram Content Group. “Our needs as an organization, our customers and their expectations are changing. Therefore, we need to change by developing and perfecting new skills and adjusting to new ways in how we work. Our Leads are essential to implementing changes for the company and for our Associates, so this program is tremendously important in supporting our Leads in their role.”

Leads are the front-line leaders who ensure that the work is completed safely, quickly and accurately by an engaged team of Associates. “Because Leads are often the first point of contact for Associates and the communication hub between Associates and Management, we understand the importance of providing opportunities for our Leads to learn, grow and develop,” explained Karen Nash James, Manager, Learning and Development for Ingram Content Group. Leads form a critical connection between hourly Associates and the specific workflow required to satisfy the customers and the Supervisors and Managers in each location. “We have devoted significant amount of time and energy to creating a training program to support Leads in their role. And we are very proud of their hard work and willingness to take what they learned in class into their daily work.”

In 2011, the Learning and Development department created a partnership with the Operations department leadership and Human Resources department to create LEAD. They hired Miller Consultants, Inc., headquartered in Louisville Kentucky to assist with the design and development of the program. The four classes were designed with real-life scenarios for ICG Operations in the Distribution Centers and at Lightning Source (LSI). Starting in October of 2011, people within the HR and Learning and Development departments co-taught each class. Between class sessions, Leads met with their Supervisors and Managers to create and implement action plans using the skills learned in class.

Leads set learning goals for each class, which helped them to relate the information being taught to their own experiences on the job. The classes in the LEAD program were:

• The Critical Role of the Lead

• The Power of Effective Communication

• Coaching for Success

• Creating a Motivating Environment

Some Leads were surprised at how much fun they had while learning. “I loved the classes. I enjoyed hearing from other Leads. We have some of the same challenges and helped each other figure out new solutions.” “The role plays and scenarios were realistic. The activities and competitions were fun!” “What I learned is helping me be a better leader and a better spouse and parent.” “These classes are showing me how to reach my goals!”

The hard work of the Leads, along with the support of their leaders, is one of the ways that Ingram Content Group is preparing for continued success in this changing work environment.

For more information on LEAD, please contact Karen Nash James at or 615.213.5954.

A Diagram of the LEAD Process:
LEAD Process-blank