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Soderquist unveils new line of products

Business leaders around the world now have access to an extra set of tools to shape their employees. The Soderquist Center for Ethics & Leadership released a new line of products last month which anyone can use without prior training.

The discussion kits now available for sale on the Center’s website provide a do-it-yourself approach for team development, said Bryson Moore, director of emerging leaders and communications. The Center’s team created both videos and curriculum, including slide presentations and participant handouts.

The videos focus on interviews with successful leaders about helpful business principles. Each kit takes about an hour of time, which makes them great for “lunch and learns,” according to an introductory video on the Center’s website. The sessions offer a “watch this, discuss this, do this, remember this” format which encourages participants to take ownership of what they learn.

The Soderquist team created the videos with the goal of helping people have the “Soderquist experience” on their own, Moore said.

The Center, affiliated with John Brown University, typically offers in-person programs for businesses, which focus on facilitating meaningful conversations. Their goal is to get past the surface and ask people questions which will take them to a deeper level. The new products simply take that same model and make it available to a much wider audience.

“We want to impact people and make them different,” Moore said. “Once individuals change, it affects the business team, then the organization as a whole and eventually their customers as well.”

Christy Hall, the Center’s graphic designer, emphasized that the kit development team wanted to keep the videos and curriculum simple.

“There’s no need to be a professional trainer to use these,” she said. “We want to make the bosses and whoever uses these the hero to their team.”

The team originally started making videos about leadership principles after Moore joined the Center in 2009. Those first videos, called “Leaderskilz,” use role playing to demonstrate how not to lead. They are available on the Center’s website for free.

People liked that video content, Moore said. When the team noticed how well they were catching on, they started working on the products they just released. The development took more than 18 months.

Although the process could sometimes discourage him, Moore said the idea of being able to go worldwide with no restrictions created enough excitement to propel him forward.

“This could really change the Center long term,” Moore said. “Our material can now go anywhere and everywhere.”

Hall said the push to keep costs down helped her stay excited during the process. The team wanted the videos to be as simple and straightforward as possible, and they also wanted to keep the cost low.

To do so, they utilized the Center’s connections with prominent business leaders to obtain exclusive interviews at a low price, Moore said. The videos feature people such as:

• Don Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A

• Bill Pollard, father of University President Chip Pollard and retired chairman and CEO of ServiceMaster

• Don Soderquist, retired COO of Walmart and the Center’s founding executive

• Steve Reinemund, retired chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

While the new discussion kits could take the Center down what Moore called a “whole new road,” they also remain consistent with the Center’s mission.

The Center seeks to provide businesses with leadership development and team building resources as a part of the training industry, he said. A variety of organizations work to provide similar services. The Center provides these services to both profit and non-profit organizations.

A focus on a values-based approach sets the Center apart from other similar groups, Hall said. The Soderquist team encourages groups to look at why they do the things they do and to ensure that their values are correctly driving their actions.