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      Leadership Skills - the development dilemma

      by Rachel Lively

      Leadership and management

      In organisations with a traditional hierarchical structure, employees would have risen up through the ranks and arrived at each level with the leadership skills they developed over time. Yet in today’s changing workplace structure, employees cannot predict when they will first experience a leadership opportunity and may find themselves in a ‘sink or swim’ situation. 

      How can L&D impart leadership skills?

      Now in the digital age, Learning and Development need to support those who are new, reluctant and/or un-natural-born leaders. Is leadership a skill that can be learned, and if so, how?

      It’s official - the world is flat.

      Yesterday's leadership style with a top down pyramid structure may have worked in the industrial age, but digital age leaders have adopted a different approach. In our modern machine-led world of work, we find organisations are flattening their structures and embracing collaborative and mission-driven teams.

      New technology and methodologies have emerged in the workplace with science-fiction style job categories like Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, data analysis and design thinking. Communication technologies have propelled virtual and global collaboration, creating dynamic teams that are multi-faceted and agile. Leadership is now about effective team-based direction rather than static team members reporting to a higher power.

      It has been a trend in the last decade to reduce the layer of middle managers in an organisation and move toward these flatter organisation structures.The impact of this has meant that more self-management and collaboration now expected. (Should we get rid of middle managers? Read more about manger skills and middle mangers here).

       

      What has emerged is a large arena of future leaders who need the fundamental leadership development training that others would have gained over time. However, as with any skills training - for it to be effective, how the content is delivered is as important as the content itself.

      Simply put, the learning solution provided by Learning & Development for effective leadership to take place needs to be efficient, effective, engaging... and early.

      HOW TO BE A LEADER IN THE DIGITAL AGE

      Is leadership a skill that can be learned?

      The move into a leadership role has traditionally been a difficult one. The transition from being directed by a manager and responsible for your own time management and workload, to being responsible for others and their performance is no mean feat.

      How can you avoid the issue of individuals finding themselves in a leadership role without the experience and management training they need to succeed?

      There are many styles of leadership, but there are some fundamental soft skills that a successful leader should possess such as communication skills and interpersonal skills, with good time management and project management capabilities. Good leaders develop emotional intelligence, build trust, and encourage a positive attitude within their team. Ultimately they problem solve and assemble the essential skills needed to complete the project efficiently.

      Top Leadership Skills

       

      • L - learning.
      • Being a leader requires a level of competence to perform but there is still a massive learning curve involved. Great leaders are constant learners and are prolific readers. They will always aim to be growing and improving, and happy to learn from others. 

      • E - engagement.
        Strong communication skills are paramount as leaders need to be able to articulate clearly and effectively. They will keep in contact with their team regularly to guide and support them, and be good at listening to them too.
         
      • A - adaption.
        Being a problem solver and thinking outside of the box is important in the ever changing workplace landscape. Having the confidence and ability to adapt when things aren’t working will make the business more efficient and agile.

      • D - direction.
        Great leaders will have the passion and drive to move projects forward and lead others. They will have a vision and be able to support and encourage their team to reach their full potential.

      • E - excitement.
        Having passion separates the doers from the dreamers. Successful leaders will have the positive attitude and energy needed to inspire others and get the work done. 

      • R - rules.
        Great leaders will have core values that they stick by that set the tone for others. They will show integrity and be trustworthy - key traits that will foster respect.

       

      To grow business and be an effective leader in the digital age, there needs to be a greater focus on team-based and virtual collaboration, innovation, and rapid change. Workplace leadership development programs exist to bridge the gap between natural leadership traits and the specific needs of the business. Read more about ‘can leadership qualities be learned’ here.

      According to research by the Brandon Hall Group, only ten percent of organisations have aligned leadership development programs with future business needs and the competencies required in the digital age.

      Much of the leadership training in existence today is very long, with unengaging learning experiences that are not relevant to each individual. It is, therefore, no surprise that many companies site their barrier to learning as being restricted by time and money. Organisations need to be much more strategic in the use of the limited time and money they can put towards Learning & Development training.

      Although organisations need to rapidly build their leadership pipelines, the expensive and non-scalable approaches of the past are not the answer.

      The leadership development programme available with our Learning Experience Platform Percipio features off-the-shelf content designed to help organisations cost-effectively develop leaders for the digital age. This is done through a unique combination of both well-timed and timeless topics for 21st century “digital” leaders. Find out more about the future of learning and Percipio here.

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      What are the benefits of leadership development training?

       

      Lack of effective training for emerging leaders results in poor quality leadership which has a domino effect across the rest of the organisation. Organisations need to provide a broad foundation of leadership skills much earlier in employees’ leadership journeys.

      To assess the importance of leadership development training we can first look at the repercussions of poor leadership:

      • Poor leadership practices cost companies an amount equal to 8% of annual revenues
      • 32% of an organisation’s employee turnover can be avoided through better leadership
      • Better leadership can generate a 3%-4% improvement in customer satisfaction
      • Most organisations operate with a 5%-10% productivity drag that better leadership practices could eliminate
      • Up to 50% of new leaders fail on the job

      Source: Skillsoft


      With the changing nature of leadership, leadership development training must be made available to everyone to ensure individuals can become leaders at the moment of organisational need. Adopting a continuous learning approach in your company will allow individuals to access important learning resources at any time or place convenient to them.


      When employees aren’t restricted by the boundaries imposed by traditional learning methods, it creates a solid learning culture that encourages the continual development of skills over time. By also supporting self-directed learning, companies are encouraging individuals to take ownership of their learning for longer-lasting results.

      Many organisations that use digital learning technologies when developing their leaders and managers, are often more successful in facilitating continuous learning and increased self-directed learning. Giving mass access to leadership resources and leveraging the best learning technology to deliver it, creates a powerful solution to supporting learners as they embark on their leadership development journeys.


      Learning and Development leaders in the digital age must provide employees with an understanding of what it means to be a great leader, as well as the support and training to get there.

      How can L&D effectively foster leadership skills?

       

      L&D teams that provide access to a broad leadership development skill set will help any new, reluctant and/or un-natural-born leaders to evolve and meet leadership challenges whenever they arise.


      With the flattening organisational structures, a leadership programme needs to be available to a large part of the organisation, and not just a select few. Mass training is one of the many challenges faced by L&D particular for those companies still using traditional learning methods such as classroom training.


      As previously discussed, L&D teams that successfully use technology when building capabilities of leaders and managers are more likely to foster a culture of continuous learning, but next to this, they are:

      • 3X more likely to have the right skills to exploit learning technologies,
      • 2X more likely to have an approach that is shaped by models that support learning in the flow of work,
      • 4X more likely to blend their use of several different learning approaches.

      Source: Skillsoft


      To effectively foster leadership skills, L&D needs to create a learner-centric approach and decide where technology can add the most value.


      The leadership development program available with the LXP Percipio addresses the changing way in which organisations need to develop their leaders. It provides a scalable, cost-effective, and engaging leadership development solution designed for the modern, digital learner.


      Prepare your future leaders now.

      Here are our 3 tips for developing leadership skills

      1. Adopt a blended learning approach. See more tips for blended learning here.
      2. Utilise elearning technologies that support a shift towards a learner-centric leadership development programme. Find out more about Percipio.
      3. Ensure L&D staff have the necessary skills and tools to tackle a new leadership development approach. Talk to a digital learning expert such as Logicearth.

       

      Whatever your learning and development challenges, Logicearth will partner with you to ensure the best long term outcomes for your company.

      Speak to us today about the learning development programmes available with Percipio, or why not request a preview now.

       

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