Following our piece on the latest trends impacting the L&D industry, we compiled a list of four predictions for how those trends — and others — will impact the future of leadership development and learning and development.
1. Leadership development will be seen as a competitive advantage and prioritized.
By now, companies have largely mastered the art of technical and compliance training — think HR-mandated training, unique workplace skills training, etc. In the coming months, there will be a shift towards focusing corporate training more on leadership development at all levels to improve managers’ ability — and willingness — to effectively lead their teams by providing ongoing coaching, delivering actionable feedback, motivating for performance, and leading difficult conversations. As more organizations are moving to project-based work, leadership skills of project team leaders will become increasingly important. By implementing comprehensive leadership development programs, organizations can create a competitive advantage and realize meaningful bottom-line benefits, including an increase in leader (and employee) retention, engagement, and loyalty, an improvement in customer satisfaction, a stronger team of leaders capable of internal promotion, among others.
2. Female leaders will be developed and empowered.
Across the world, more attention is being focused on women in leadership. Countries like Japan are requiring organizations to articulate strategies for preparing and moving women into senior-level leadership positions. Leadership development will need to account for, and address, the historical biases we’ve placed on women and enable them to reach their full potential. Organizational cultures will be re-examined to uncover beliefs, processes, and behavior that have prevented women from excelling. Recent sexual abuse allegations across many industries in the United States highlight the systemic and pervasive problems we have yet to fully and publicly address. That must change.
3. ALL managers will be tasked with improving customer experience.
It’s no secret that improving customer experience — and ultimately customer satisfaction — has been a top priority for organizations for many years, with more and more organizations citing strong customer experience as a competitive advantage. What will be new, will be the focus on leveraging managers — ALL managers — to truly change customer experience across the entire organization. Customer experience extends to every department within a company as each one, in some way, impacts the customer whether through internal interactions or external customer touch points. As a result, every employee must re-imagine their job description to clearly outline the ultimate benefit they bring to the customer. Great customer experience requires that more than the very front-line of the team (those answering phones or emails) be involved to provide an ongoing, successful customer experience. Leaders must prioritize the mission and help establish a corporate culture that values and rewards an unwavering focus on the customer.
4. In-classroom training will be en vogue again.
While we are the first ones to acknowledge the power of virtual instructor-led training, self-paced learning courses, or social learning platforms — and we frequently employ these learning modalities for our clients — we're seeing a refocus on strong in-classroom leadership development training as part of a holistic blended learning approach. In our experience, instructor-led training is ideally suited for experiential, thought-provoking topics, action-oriented learning and presentations, and high-level discussions. When used effectively, in-person learning experiences can lead to significantly more engaged participants, since the format holds learners accountable and connects them with peers experiencing similar challenges. Above all, organizations will give instructor-led training its due place in their blended learning curriculum because it works, plain and simple.
Newer and flashier learning methods certainly have their place in a learning library, and many — notably self-directed learning and eLearnings — can be extremely effective when deployed to reinforce in-person learning. Without in-classroom training at the core, however, organizations run the risk of merely offering on-demand learning for the sake of checking a box. Employees are busier than ever and are multi-tasking for most of their work day. In order to truly digest a complex topic like leadership, learners must connect with the material, draw inferences, apply lessons and models to their unique situations, test new skills, measure progress, and rinse and repeat. And, that type of learning is best suited for a classroom. Leadership development is not a one-time learning experience, and organizations will recognize its importance and make sure that all leaders carve out time in their hectic schedules to grow as leaders.