How We Foster Leadership

March 29, 2024

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Professional development can be vital for workers to learn, grow and advance within the workforce. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina knows how important this is for keeping talent at the company. This is why the company supports employees through its Aspiring Leaders Program.   

“What we aim to do is set up high-potential employees to move into leadership positions,” says Elizabeth Campbell, director of talent development at BlueCross. 

It allows employees to benefit from formal and hands-on learning. It includes courses on problem solving and decision making, leadership styles and communication. The classes were developed with input and perspectives from across the company. 

“It is also updated so that it is current, pertinent and relevant for today because things change,” says Kathie Wickham, leadership development manager. 

The program is free for BlueCross employees who have been with the company for at least a year. They must also meet performance requirements. It takes about six months to complete. 

At the end of the program, these employees will be prepared to step into leadership roles at BlueCross. 

“The program gives employees a better sense of what’s involved in a management position. They learn from current leaders throughout the organization,” Campbell says. 

More than just giving employees skills to advance, it also allows them to understand what it means to be a supervisor at the company. 

“The program is structured so that people can understand what it means to be a leader/manager and decide if it is for them or not,” says Wickham.  

It is common for employees to stay at BlueCross for years. We have interns who return for full-time positions. Many employees talk about the value of a diverse career that allows them to try new things and continue to learn

“Whenever we can keep people here to advance into leadership, that is a win for the company and a win for the employee,” Campbell says. “Employees want their employer to value career growth and give them opportunities for professional development. This was created to ensure that employees who are interested in management positions have a steppingstone and a realistic look at what management looks like here.”

Renee Robinson, a medical review supervisor, signed up for the program to learn more about the company. She joined BlueCross five years ago and completed the program two years into her tenure. 

“The program is great. It gives you the tools you need, teaches you your strong suits and what you need to work on to be a good manager,” she says. “It is designed to make you reflect on who you are, not just as an employee, but how you would respond in management.”

Since completing the program, Robinson has advanced to a supervisor position.

Each participant is also assigned a mentor to guide their development. Robinson says this was valuable in her experience. She maintains that relationship years later. She also took away plenty of lessons that help in her life outside of work. 

“The program is loaded with tools that are helpful in everyday life, not just in a supervisory or employee role. I use it at home, too. It makes you learn how to prioritize and delegate. It made a huge difference in the way I look at things,” she says.   

Robinson got so much from the program that she encourages her employees to sign up. 

“Aspiring Leaders really shows how much BlueCross values its employees and is willing to take the time to train and retain them. They want you to move up into management,” she says. “Not all companies offer that.” 

While there are plenty of reasons to work at BlueCross, having room to advance is certainly one of them. 

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