Accelerating Leadership Development at Market Speed

Accelerating Leadership Development at Market Speed

Meet Sarah, a Learning and Development professional working for a major global bank. She has experienced, firsthand, the changes that have impacted the financial industry in the last 10 years.

She feels overwhelmed when she thinks about the radical transformation the marketplace has recently experienced. Regulations, new nontraditional entrants to the market, and digital transformation are impacting the business in different ways, forcing the bank to adapt and streamline organizational structures.

Sarah realizes these changes have created new rules not only for the business but also for her as an L&D professional. The new business strategy put in place by the leadership team requires a new set of leadership skills and a different culture in the organization.

Sarah understands that she needs to rethink her approach to training. Leadership is no longer just for individual leaders at the top; therefore, training cannot continue to focus solely on them. There is a need for broader and quicker organizational alignment, and she knows that traditional leadership development fails to support this kind of agile workplace.

But how to change the old paradigms? How to get buy-in for the scope of transformation that is required? How does she find ways to support accelerating leadership development throughout the organization? How does she ensure organizational alignment around key leadership messages without tripling the L&D budget?

Do You Need to Rethink Your Approach to Training?

Can you empathize with Sarah’s reality? If you’re like the clients we interact with regularly, then the answer is probably yes. In today’s business environment, every employee needs to execute the strategy, placing a priority on scaling and accelerating leadership development.

As our white paper explains, such scaling is not a program, but rather a sweeping initiative that requires a whole-systems view. It requires a significant commitment across the organization.

Here are 3 steps we recommend to help HR and L&D professionals succeed at scaling and accelerating leadership development.

Infographic: Scaling Leadership Development. 1. Plan: Strategy first. 2. Build: The right learning for the right level. 3. Leverage: The right talent inside & outside.

1. Start with a plan and a strategy.

Organizations should start with the business strategy and then identify the related strategic leadership drivers (choices about how to be positioned to take advantage of strengths). From there, focus on the leadership implications of the strategy. For example, if your business strategy involves geographic expansion, your leaders will need to have learning agility, resilience, and the ability to lead dispersed and virtual teams.

Too often, leadership development scaling initiatives are rolled out without aligning with the business strategy. Avoid this mistake. As you think about scaling and accelerating leadership development, ask what business opportunities and challenges demand a leadership solution.

2. Build processes to support scaling and accelerating leadership development across the enterprise.

Once the strategy is in place, focus on a learning architecture that will better support scaling. It’s important to have clarity about the varying needs and investments that will be required at different levels.

The good news is, today there are many different forms of content available for organizational learning: licensed leadership content and materials from industry experts, outsourced delivery, books, and digital content.

The bad news is, it usually isn’t well-organized, aligned, and packaged. Consider the following:

  • Balancing between centralized versus regional training;
  • Satisfying individual leaders and creating collective alignment;
  • Leveraging both face to face and virtual methodologies; and
  • Providing fast, bite-size solutions while allowing sufficient time to slow down and reflect.

It’s vital to create a common leadership language around the critical skills for success linked to your strategy, regardless of the delivery model. Anchor the initiative in agreed-upon learning objectives at every level.

Access Our Webinar!

Watch our webinar, 3 Ways to Maximize In-House Leadership Development, and discover how you can use our simple and engaging workshop kits to upskill your leaders wherever they are.

3. Leverage the right talent and partners.

Consider mixing outsourcing with insourcing for accelerating your leadership development. You may need to seek the support of an external partner to get you started and then engage your internal team. Leverage your partner for certain groups — such as senior executives where deeper, more complex development is required — and then use your internal resources to scale the development throughout the enterprise.

Identify your internal facilitation talent outside of your regular internal trainers in HR. Also, think about involving business leaders who can cascade down the key leadership messages to their teams. This helps organizations maximize internal leadership development while offering invaluable insights for team members.

For example, at CCL, we started working with one client organization at the top. After creating customized learning journeys for the senior team, we designed specific solutions for the levels below, emphasizing critical leadership skills for the rest of the organization.

We then trained the internal facilitators in the organization, and they led the training internally, scaling and disseminating key leadership skills across the enterprise at their own pace, and led by a familiar face.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

We would love to help you with accelerating leadership development initiatives. Partner with us to scale learning and build a common leadership language across your entire organization. Take advantage of CCL Passport, which gives you unlimited access to our world-renowned content and our most comprehensive package of proven, transformative leadership solutions. If you license our content, you can bring our proven research, programs, and tools in-house to leaders at all levels of your organization.


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December 2, 2020
Leading Effectively Staff
About the Author(s)
Leading Effectively Staff
This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff, who analyze our decades of pioneering, expert research and experiences in the field to share content that will help leaders at every level. Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-based leadership articles and insights sent straight to your inbox.

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