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VOL. 126 | NO. 196 | Friday, October 7, 2011

Leadership Group Expands to Memphis

By Andy Meek

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A business leadership program started by former Tractor Supply Co. CEO Joe Scarlett and run for the last several years in Nashville is going so well the program is expanding to Memphis.


And that’s just the first of what’s hoped to be multiple expansions of the program.

Scarlett, who started the Scarlett Leadership Institute as an outgrowth of the targeted executive development he pursued at Tractor Supply Co., said program officials thought Memphis was the most logical next destination for several reasons.

They looked at the area’s dense population and the presence of lots of corporations based and doing business here, which they hoped could translate into enough of an audience that could benefit from the program. In fact, the program is already building an audience even before it arrives.

Scarlett said the program is already signing up executives from Memphis companies like FedEx Corp.

First Horizon National Corp., the parent company of First Tennessee Bank, also has sent some of its people through the program already.

“Our objective is simple: help business leaders become better business leaders (through) teaching leadership skills,” Scarlett said.

First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan said his company has used the program multiple times in Nashville partly because of the things it does differently than other programs.

It involves a lot more than sending employees away to something like a weeklong sit-down with other executives, where they might only take notes from a presenter.

For one thing, the Scarlett Leadership Institute requires months of commitment from participants in some aspects of what it offers.

“It does a really good job of helping develop senior executives and leaders for the long term,” Jordan said. “They have very good presenters. The program is very comprehensive, and if you can put yourself in the seat of the CEO, they sort of went through and said, OK, to develop senior leaders for the long term, these are the competencies that they need. And they sort of backed into that.

“So it is long, it takes a big commitment, but it covers the range of everything that rising executives in organizations need.”

The Scarlett Leadership Institute’s first program was launched in August 2006. As it grew, so did plans for it to evolve regionally – and beyond. Earlier this year, it announced plans to spin off from Belmont University in Nashville to function as its own firm with a headquarters in a modern training facility in Franklin, Tenn.

The Scarlett team includes the former Tractor Supply Co. CEO; Scott Carlton, as CEO of the institute; and Mary Fink, as vice president of programs.

Carlton previously held leadership positions at Microsoft Corp., and Fink has served as a director of the Belmont University Center for Professional Development.

The organization’s website, www.scarlettleadership.com, gives an overview of everything the institute provides – from classroom training to executive coaching.

To get an idea of what the institute is about, its signature executive program is one component of its classroom offerings. It’s focused on high-potential individuals nominated by senior leaders in their organizations, and students who go through it have a peer coach they talk regularly with about things they’ve committed to as well as a mentor in their organization who meets regularly with the participant.

It builds an actionable program for – and brings accountability to – the promising leaders of tomorrow.

“I’m trying to help younger executives avoid some of the pitfalls that most of us go through,” Scarlett said. “And we’re having a lot of fun doing it and getting some great results. We’re having such great results, we thought we’d get the heck out of town and see what we can do elsewhere, too.”

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