Four years ago, I wrote a research paper called “Future Trends in Leadership Development.” The paper became popular in various circles and I received good feedback from all groups except one — my friends in Silicon Valley said, “We like the research findings but… a lot of those ideas wouldn’t work here. This place is different.”

So 1 year ago, we started a research project to answer the following questions:

  • Is developing leaders in Silicon Valley really different?
  • What are the most innovative methods being used?
  • What are the best methods, tricks, and tools that L&D practitioners can learn from and use?

The answer we found is that yes, Silicon Valley is different, and requires a different type of learning. We call this “Accelerated Continuous Development,” or ACD. Tech leaders need to develop faster than leaders in other industries because they reach senior roles more rapidly and at younger ages. This calls for Accelerated Continuous Development:

This type of development isn’t easy, but the good news is that’s what this paper is all about. Based on our observations, we believe tech (and other) companies can create ACD by focusing on these things:

7 Best Practices for Development in the Silicon Valley

  1. Give leaders heat experiences.
  2. Build ecosystems of peer-to-peer learning.
  3. Company data + your culture = leadership hacks.
  4. Develop leaders through 3 circles.
  5. Design for time-poor leaders.
  6. Build snackable and deep-dive solutions.
  7. Protect your asset: Create a low stress, high energy culture.
    Bonus: Become the world’s best plumbers.

To Create ACD, Become Context Agnostic

In the new era of work and technology, previous models of development are becoming less relevant. Leadership development designers used to plan when and where their leaders would learn, but new generations of leaders don’t need to be told. People can now consume learning and develop in any time in any context. If previous models suggested a certain percentage of learning on the job and a certain percentage in the classroom, the new model says, “Who cares?”

Leaders might be watching a TED Talk on the bus, sharing best practice tips in a Facebook group or discovering how Reid Hoffman learns from a podcast. Become agnostic about the context where development happens. The future of development is about what is being consumed and how it is being integrated.

Learn more about ACD, read Fast Track: How Top Silicon Valley Companies Accelerate Leadership Development.

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