What can Disney, Barclays, and Unilever teach us about leadership development? Plenty. Rather than spending exorbitant amounts of money on leadership development programs or personal coaches, these companies know how to identify and grow leaders while simultaneously taking on business objectives. To first identify those with leadership potential, Barclays and Disney provide opportunities for employees to run “internal venture teams,” to propose ideas for new products or services, attend workshops, and receive coaching. Participants can also recruit colleagues and bosses to join their teams. After ideas are pitched, senior leadership selects projects to receive funding and resources. Microsoft’s annual hackathons and Talent Talks have a comparable model (link to previous newsletter). Similarly, Unilever lets its employees improvise through their UL2020 program, which puts managers in small teams to tackle big business challenges, giving them the opportunity to lead and potentially solve a company problem. The UL2020 program led to millions in new revenue in less than three years. These three innovative companies recognize that by investing in employees with leadership potential, actually letting them lead, and allowing them to work on projects of their own choice, everyone benefits.