Campfire Stories and S'mores as Leadership Development

Daimler Trucks North America

Case Studies

The Accounting team at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) was in the midst of creating a leadership development program. They had all the wrap-around development pieces in place—participant and mentor selection process, town hall presentation assignments, and designated additional learning opportunities—but they were missing central learning experiences. So, we partnered with their stakeholders to design, develop, and facilitate eight full-day interactive sessions, offered quarterly over two years, that infused experiential learning, self-reflection, peer support, and on-the-spot coaching to a select cohort.


The primary goal of the program is to provide technically proficient non-supervisory employees with the support, skills, and knowledge they will need to be successful should they be promoted to a supervisor role. The goal of the first year is for participants to demonstrate the DTNA defined key attributes of a leader; Year 2’s goal is to build on the concepts of Year 1 and demonstrate the ability to skillfully influence up, down, and across the organization.


Each full-day interactive session is packed with a variety of engaging activities focused on helping participants interact with ideas, reflect upon their personal beliefs and behaviors, and practice new skills.

Year 1 topics focus on self, team, and peers. There are sessions on emotional intelligence, active and empathetic listening, personal leadership, and learning the skill of sifting through the noise of overwhelming data to find the truly essential information.

Year 2 focuses on interactions with peers, stakeholders, and managers with an emphasis on leading people who don’t report to you. Sessions include inspiring others to support your vision, the impact of situational and environmental influences, and fostering a culture of accountability and transparency.

One session has learners making s’mores around a simulated campfire while sharing leadership development stories. Even lunch breaks are designed as opportunities to apply learning with designated conversation starters and/or questions.


The program has been such as success that the Accounting team continues to offer it to a new set of cohorts each year. Year 1 of the program has been adopted company-wide, altered slightly to remove any accounting specific scenarios, and is facilitated by the HR Training department.

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