How Rackspace Develops Great Leaders

Our Limitless Learning series highlights many of the ways Rackspace supports and develops our talented employees.

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Embarking on the journey from individual contributor to people leader is one of the most important career moves you can make.

We deeply value great leadership at Rackspace, and that’s why we take leadership training so seriously.

In this, the second part in our Limitless Learning series, you’ll learn about Rackspace’s leadership training opportunities. In part one, we described overall career development here at the Rack. Future posts will cover our sales on-boarding, ongoing technical training and international development opportunities.

“One of the major differentiators at Rackspace is that we build great leaders, period,” says Theresa Hoehne, a senior manager of global talent development. “Not great leaders only at Rackspace, but great leaders for the rest of your career — even if a Racker moves on. The skills and techniques we teach will equip leaders wherever they go.”

Leadership training resources at Rackspace are an ecosystem, rather than a set program, Hoene notes. And while there is no single path to leadership, the journey begins with our Emerging Manager Orientation. This is a four-month conversation where Rackers learn about the responsibilities and activities associated with leading.

“Emerging manager orientation is a great first resource, because it helps Rackers decide if people leadership is right for them,” Hoehne explains. “There is no commitment, but it helps reveal if someone is, or more importantly, is not, ready to pursue a leadership track.”

Rackers who choose to continue on their journey can take advantage of self-service style online training materials from Rackspace University. These materials include modules such as Strategic Planning 101, Leading Through Change and an Innovative Mindset.

For those Rackers who show real promise, we have the Emerging Leadership Program or ELP. This prestigious program offers 50 Rackers at a time the opportunity to join a cohort and go through a more intensive six-month class. In this program, which participants must be nominated and then chosen for, Rackers are taught the importance of servant leadership, learning agility and the ability to adapt.

Stephanie Lewis, a Fanatical Support manager and Fall 2016 Emerging Leadership cohort member, said she was blown away by the program and the investment Rackspace made in her development.

“The ELP program was invaluable. It showed me that this kind of development and investment in me and the future is critically important. I knew I wanted to lead teams when I came to Rackspace, but this taught me so much about what leadership means, what is expected of leaders and the thoughtful approach Rackspace takes to leadership,” Lewis said.

One of the most valueable parts of the program for Lewis was the support she felt from her cohort and her relationship with a mentor.

“From day one you feel the support from your cohort, the program leaders and the mentors,” Lewis said. “They set me up with someone who had gone through the program before, so I could get advice and feedback when I needed it. I wouldn’t have been as successful without someone to bounce my ideas off of.”

Beyond ELP is the Advanced Leadership Program or ALP, which helps Rackers make the next biggest leap: from being a people leader to a leader of people leaders. A global program, it’s limited to 24 Rackers at a time.

“The goals of ALP are different from that of ELP, because the goals of Rackers working as directors and above are different,” Hoehne said. “We spend a lot on time getting out of the weeds of everyday work and focusing on high level, business strategy.”

Rackspace uses Leadership Vitals to guide each level of development. Developed at Rackspace, Vitals was created by a cross functional, global team of leaders inside Human Resources and Talent Management. They were then vetted and validated in the business by Racker leaders, Hoehne explained.

“Clearly defined, our Leadership Vitals assist leaders at each management level in understanding capability expectations and developing the muscles needed to reach full performance and potential,” she said. “Additionally, these vitals highlight the importance of agility, a growth mindset, and resilience necessary in navigating our dynamic business.”

At Rackspace, we take support seriously — both for our customers and our employees. Our leadership development is just one way we fanatically support our Rackers every day.

Next up in our Limitless Learning series, you’ll learn about our unique, hands-on sales on-boarding program.

Are you a Racker? Click the banner below to see if you’ve got what it takes.

Grace Frye is an intern at Rackspace where she works on the talent acquisition team focusing on talent branding. She is a senior at Trinity University studying communication, economics and entrepreneurship. She is an avid traveler and prefers to spend her time hiking across the world.

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