Training future leaders - easier said than done? - Business Works
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Training future leaders - easier said than done?

by Kevin Young, General Manager EMEA, Skillsoft Following a new report, the CIPD is calling on HR professionals to make a greater difference within their organisations by taking the next step from training individual leaders, to improving the leadership capacity of the company as a whole. The report 'Leadership, easier said than done' found several barriers preventing the improvement of management and leadership skills and calls for a greater focus on ways to develop leadership skills through the entire workforce.

In the years following the recession, companies took on fewer entry-level recruits, but also saw training budgets cut. These economic pressures, combined with technological advances, mean many employees are dealing with added pressures and expectations in order to cope with the demands of today's workplace and stay one step ahead in a competitive job market.

To make matters worse, while this incoming talent into organisations does not possess the skills needed to drive results and lead from the frontline, businesses are facing a retirement boom that will drain them of intellectual capital and know-how at the top levels, says Kevin Young, General Manager at Skillsoft.

an undertrained, overworked younger generation and the loss of top level executives

The impact of this combination, of an undertrained, overworked younger generation and the loss of top level executives needs to be countered, yet a recent study conducted by Brandon Hall in association with Skillsoft, found that 70% of businesses have seen the leadership development budgets either decrease by up to 20% or stay at the same level over the past year.

Ensuring a solid pipeline of suitable leaders has proven to be a daunting task. Leaders are not often born, they are made. Through training, experience and personal development good managers can be created and nurtured so they become invaluable business assets.

focus on leaders of the future

Leadership Development programmes are not addressing the problems, because they focus too much on existing leaders, rather than leaders of the future. It is vital that talent spotting and development are treated as a top priority, especially in this economic climate. A good leader will cultivate the right team that will meet objectives and give their company that competitive edge.

Leadership training must be viewed in the same way as any other major investment such as technology and infrastructure. When new IT systems are upgraded within a business, it is with a view that the new systems will make processes quicker and more efficient. It is the same with leadership; leaders are the catalyst for achieving success. They will seek out more challenging assignments, always meet deadlines and line staff will respect their direction. A team that is led by a good motivator and an inspiring innovator will ultimately achieve.

Skilled leaders can provide both immediate and long term benefit. By helping your managers to develop, your business will prosper, maximise its potential and enjoy a competitive environment. The right training will expose talents that may have previously been hidden and will offer managers the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of new business innovations.

Learning and development has evolved rapidly over the past few years to better serve the global marketplace and keep pace with technological change. Moving forward, the most successful organisations will see greater flexibility and adaptability in learning styles to fit the diverse needs of all employees, whether they're fresh out of university, gen X or a baby boomer. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for today's professionals in today's work context.

So what does the future look like for leadership development? To retain key talent, keep employees performing to a high level and to find and develop potential leaders, organisations are increasingly looking to shake up the delivery of learning programmes, relying on elearning to fill the gaps where traditional learning can't reach.

The 70:20:10 learning model has gained significant momentum internationally, where 70% is informal, on the job, experience-based learning, 20% is applied through coaching and mentoring and 10% is formal learning through structured courses.

Organisations are rapidly adopting blended learning as the better approach to deliver training to large and diverse employee groups, responding to the growing need to enhance employee skills to match current and future requirements. Since 70-80% of learning occurs on the job, it stands to reason that learning should integrate seamlessly into one’s daily work schedule – breaking information into manageable chunks makes it more accessible and less daunting for the learner.

Corporate learning and leadership training has evolved and matured – it's no longer possible to develop a company's human capital with a single approach. Both the modern business environment and workforce demand learning that is flexible, scalable and accessible anytime, anywhere which utilise modern resources and enables employees to work more effectively.

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