Leadership Development Evolution on Display at Skillsoft Perspectives

By Claude Werder, Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

 ORLANDO, FL – It’s exciting to see Brandon Hall Group research come to life, as it did at the Skillsoft Perspectives 2019 conference here April 15-17, 2019.

Our leadership development research shows the need for organizations to prepare current and future leaders for the collaborative, team-driven leadership needed in the digital age.

Only one-third of organizations said they can prove their leadership-develop program delivers business benefit. At Perspectives, however, companies showed they are focused on leadership development with business impact.

Microchip Technology, an Arizona-based semiconductor company that doubled its headcount mostly through acquisition over the last five years, reinvented leadership development at all levels. Leveraging Skillsoft eLearning, Microchip created a rich leadership program with four distinct levels of development. Amanda Michno, manager of leadership and organizational development, said the company’s culture of employee empowerment is now its top competitive advantage.

Brian Mulliner of Raymond James told how the investment-banking company designed personalized leadership development strategies that align leaders’ interests, aspirations and strengths with organizational needs, goals and performance trends. That’s right out of our LD playbook.

Heide Abelli, the creator of Skillsoft’s Leadership Development program, encouraged companies to take bold steps to reinvent and “democratize” LD by focusing more on the individual contributor, frontline and supervisor levels. She also told attendees that the only way leaders can drive business transformation in the digital age is through innovation.

This means developing leaders with:

  • Agility — the ability to experiment, learn, iterate and pivot
  • Accountability
  • Resilience — the ability to thrive despite uncertainty and change
  • Creativity
  • Customer-centricity

“If you don’t make the shift in leadership style, you are going to be left behind,” said Abelli, who also stressed the importance of leaders with emotional intelligence who are self-aware and introspective.

In a breakout session I presented with my colleague, Cliff Stevenson, we drilled down on emotional intelligence by stressing the importance of introducing EI training as early as possible in an employee’s tenure. Emotional intelligence is a foundational competency that instills the mindset and behaviors necessary to drive a team-driven organization based on collaboration, empathy and respect. Those skills are necessary at all levels of leadership.

In addition, we said organizations needed to collect data (anonymously) from employees on their leaders’ behaviors so the leaders can reflect and continually adjust and improve. We also told attendees that emotional-intelligence training is never done. Training on the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and motivation must be reinforced through nudges, micro-learning, video reminders and other means. And organizations must find ways for managers to practice (and practice and practice) their new leadership behaviors consistently in a safe environment.

Most organizations — 84%, according to our research — believe emotional intelligence is the most important competency for developing leaders. However, the research also showed that only 44% include EI in their leadership development approach. We were thrilled to see that was not the case among the attendees at our Perspectives session; roughly three-quarters indicated they offered emotional intelligence training in some way at their companies.

Progress is a wonderful thing.

Claude Werder, Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

Claude Werder is Brandon Hall Group’s Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst. He focuses on Leadership Development and Talent Management. Brandon Hall Group is a leading research and analyst firm with Practices in Learning & Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management/Core HR.

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