The pandemic has forced us to adapt the way we live and work. But, as the vaccine program advances and society opens up, it’s tempting to think it’ll all be over soon and we’ll get back to working the way we were. That may be wishful thinking because, in fact, COVID-19 isn’t the only challenge to doing business as usual.
Before the current crisis, the World Economic Forum (WEF) had announced that we were entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution driven by the advance of digital technology and artificial intelligence. This, the WEF concluded, was likely to result in a ‘reskilling emergency’, meaning that over a billion people would need to reskill by 2030. In 2020, a report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) concluded that 9 out of 10 UK employees will need to be retrained before the end of the decade. Even without the consequences of the pandemic, we’re looking at an immediate and widening skills gap that needs addressing urgently.
So, what’s going on? Automation and digitization are making some skills redundant, yet equally these disruptive elements are creating new opportunities. The task ahead, therefore, is not to try to turn back the clock, but rather to recognize and accept the emerging challenges and realize that change is inevitable, and we should plan for it. In other words, get ready to embrace this new normal.
The Role Of Leadership
Naturally, it’s one thing to recognize the challenge, it’s quite another to meet it. That demands (re-) organization, fortitude, and innovation. Above all, it requires leadership and the skills that leaders offer.
Leadership gives perspective and reassurance in the face of challenges. Where others have only a partial, restricted view, leaders use their vantage point to see across their organizations and the prevailing climate in which it must operate. In a crisis, people look for reassurance. Leaders can provide empathy and understanding and use their strength, resilience, and empathy to empower others. The successful modern business leader leads a team and creates a team of leaders.
But it must be the right kind of leadership, one that can adapt to the winds of change. Autocratic, top-down styles of leadership and ad hoc, personal intervention are less effective the way today’s businesses are structured when the workforce is so diverse, dispersed, and disrupted. For businesses now, you want a more democratic and inclusive style of leadership that trickles down and flows across a business to permeate all levels of the organization. We need leaders at every level giving direction and managing and motivating staff. The dramatic interventions and periodic campaigns that characterized leadership in the past must give way to a continuum of leadership training and development involving a process of constant re-evaluation and innovation to recognize, meet and accept change.
With fundamental challenges ahead, you can’t leave leadership to chance and assume leaders will emerge to fill the vacuum. What you need is a comprehensive leadership development program.
Training Programs To Create Leaders
Contrary to myth and many business autobiographies, leaders are not born but are formed. Leadership is a skill that can and must be learned and developed through training. All organizations of a certain size and complexity need resourceful and well-trained leaders, managers, and team leads.
And a responsible organization needs to put in place a leadership training program and establish a leadership development pipeline to ensure there are enough trained leaders and leadership candidates.
This is particularly true when you’re facing a skills crisis and therefore a labor shortage. The need to upskill and reskill applies just as much to leaders as anyone else. So, leadership training becomes the learning and development priority.
What Do Leadership Training Programs Do?
Leadership training can apply to any business sector or department. These programs can teach you how to develop your own style of leadership. They provide you with core leadership skills such as communication, project management, people management, decision-making, and problem-solving. They teach emotional intelligence so that you can develop and manage people and recognize and address conflict and stress.
Some leadership programs are tailored to specific departments, like HR or Customer Services, or business sectors such as Finance, IT or Healthcare. Critically for the current crisis, leadership programs teach you how to manage innovation and change.
How Does Leadership Training Work?
In the past, leadership programs were generally classroom-led and off-site. This type of training promoted the view that leadership was a rarefied art suitable for the very few.
Now, comprehensive leadership programs for all levels are delivered by e-learning or blended learning. Multimedia e-learning modules allow learners to study at their own pace, location, and time. They employ innovative teaching techniques involving scenarios and gamification to allow learners to practice their leadership skills in a real-life context. The modules can be easily repurposed and are continuously updated.
Leadership programs need not be a series of one-off events. Adopting collaborative and social learning can increase learner engagement and promote a culture of continuous learning. Microlearning – chunks of learning involving anything from video clips to infographics to weblinks – enables learning on the go and can be used for spaced practice to improve knowledge retention. Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) bring learning into the workflow and deliver it across a range of devices.
The Benefits Of Leadership Training Programs
It’s been said that employees don’t so much leave an organization, as leave their boss. They’re more likely to stay in an organization that has leaders that people value and trust. If leaders understand the people, they manage and direct, those people are more likely to perform better for them. Effective leadership and people management improve productivity.
Leadership training keeps your best people in the organization by recognizing talent and achievement. It encourages people to invest their futures in a business. Leadership programs can develop a virtuous circle: by recognizing the potential in developing leaders and giving them the skills to provide positive feedback and reinforcement, you encourage other employees to develop.
It teaches informed decision-making by giving leaders the background, context, supporting information, and skillsets to take the right actions. This is particularly important with people new to leadership roles, who lack experience. Training allows leaders the time and space to hone their skills and develop a leadership style that works best for them and your organization.
Leaders with well-developed emotional intelligence can better manage stress and resolve conflicts in a team. Emotional intelligence makes for better understanding and collaboration and allows leaders to get the very best performance and contributions from their teams.
Communication skills are key for any leader. They are vital to planning and implementing strategy and vision and paramount when managing remote teams. Two-way communication (being able to listen as well as direct) also promotes teamwork and collaboration which in turn help instill a sense of community and shared culture across an organization. Clear communication across all channels builds belief and resilience in staff and the organization in times of uncertainty.
Training leaders on how to manage change and how to innovate is a clear benefit in the current environment. Recognizing the signs of change and responding innovatively is one of the greatest tasks facing leaders. It requires foresight and agility, skills a good leadership training program will deliver.
Leadership For Our Times
In the new normal, leadership has to be dynamic, not static. It must be resilient and proactive, seeking out opportunities while recognizing the scale and scope of the disruption. Organizations need Leadership Training Programs to meet emerging challenges.
Download the eBook Leadership Training: How To Equip Leaders For Today’s Challenges And The Future to prepare your leadership team for what’s to come and build a successful culture of learning.