American Express Company’s Leadership Training


The company AMEX faced necessity of introducing training programs for their learning managers in order to improve their skills. Organizations should provide changes in order to remain competitive and meet requirements of the market which changes constantly. As suggested by the case introduced in the study by Nelson and Quick (2008), the learning staff should be trained as well as all other members:

Not only must the learning operations of an organization address the training and development need of other units within the organization, but the organizational unit responsible for employee learning must also be concerned with developing the talents of its own staff members (Nelson & Quick, 2008, p. 214).

This also should be done in order to train skills in leadership which would be useful while working in groups. The groups, formal and informal, are an integral part of the organization’s structure. Leadership (not competition) should be motivated to reach the goals set before the group.

Necessity of training faced by AMEX learning managers

The employees should acquire knowledge and gain experience that can improve their skills, develop their talents and facilitate the process of training. As a rule, the process of training is conducted in groups as demonstrated in the case introduced in Nelson and Quick (2008, pp. 214-215). Groups within organization are of great importance, because the interactions of people always lead to establishment of groups (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009, p. 226). A person within a group is influenced by other members of the group and vice versa. “The accomplishments of groups are strongly influenced by the behavior of their individual members” (Griffin & Moorhead, 2009, p. 227). As far as a group needs a leader, leadership skills should be developed and trained as well as other skills.

The concept of leadership presupposes that a person is a leader of a group and he/she is responsible for leading the group towards a common goal and its achievement. “The most important training a young executive could receive today would be training in how to lead groups to work together to achieve goals” (Harris & Hartman, 2001, p. 129). Thus, groups should have their leaders and these leaders should be trained accordingly. Jago (1982, p. 315) suggested a definition of the concept of leadership as it involves more than one person and requires certain behavioral strategy:

Leadership is both a process and a property. The process of leadership is the use of noncoercive influence to direct and coordinate the activities of the members of an organized group toward the accomplishment of group objectives. As a property, leadership is the set of qualities or characteristic attributed to those who are perceived to successfully employ such influence (cited in Greenberg, 1994, p. 46)

Thereby, the concept of leadership is an important part of the training process. It should be developed through improving skills of the group as suggested in the case in Nelson and Quick (2008).

Groups and Levels in the AMEX Case

The case suggests three groups of learners that were engaged into different types of training: online delivery of relevant materials, traditional classroom training, and blended type which combined interaction (a distinctive feature of groups) and online delivery of additional materials (Nelson and Quick, 2008, p. 214). After the training period all members of the training process were to assess their achievements.

The case suggested five levels of evaluating effectiveness of training:

  1. immediate reaction on learning experience;
  2. assessment of the skills acquisition;
  3. evaluation of the learners’ progress three months after the training process;
  4. business impact in terms of productivity;
  5. return on investment (ROI) (Nelson and Quick, 2008, pp. 214-215).

This shows that learners and their immediate supervisors evaluated the progress and results of the training programs. Though learners could experience dissatisfaction on the 1 and 2 levels of evaluating impact of the training programs, the changes were considerable in terms of 3-5 levels which demonstrated direct influence of the learning programs on the productivity. In addition, the learners that participated in the training process and experienced the methods of the blended type of training were more successful than learners of other two types of training.


The case contains analysis of different methods of training learning managers in the AMEX organization. The blended type of training appeared to be the most effective one as it combined the traditional classroom training which can be characterized by interaction between group members and online delivery of learning materials. As even the training process presupposes actions fulfilled by a group, it is necessary to discuss importance of a leader within the group and development of leadership.

The training process should be aimed at developing leadership skills and other skills and experience that can appear helpful while day-to-day maintenance and interactions between members of groups. Though the effectiveness of training programs cannot always be appreciated by learners at once in the course of the training process, the impact of the learning process on productivity can scarcely be overestimated.


Greenberg, J. (1994). Organizational Behavior: The State of the Science. London: Routledge

Griffin, R. W., & Moorhead, G. (2009). Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations. Boston: Cengage Learning

Harris, O. J., & Hartman, S. J. (2001). Organizational Behavior. London: Routledge

Nelson, D. L., & Quick, J. C. (2008). Organizational Behavior: Science, the Real World, and You. Boston: Cengage Learning.

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