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Leadership Development

Keeping Up With the "New Normal"


Will Your Leadership Programs Meet the Needs of Future Leaders?

Over the past 1-2 years, so much has happened to us: life, loss, excitement, despair, opportunity, disruption, and so much more. While we have all been on the same ocean, we've been on different ships, making our experiences both in-common and in-difference. That is not going to change anytime soon.

We're now in a "new normal"— a state in which our economy, society, work, and daily life has been altered from what it was prior to a crisis*. In this challenging time, our leaders need solutions to help them deal with changes to their environment, and recent studies show leaders want to spend more time on their development. 

Let's look first at three underlying macro changes that will continue to influence our work (and home) lives in the new normal. 

Macro Change 1: The changing nature of work

From return to work to hybrid or alternative work arrangements, we are learning to yet again flex to different surroundings. 

Each workplace is responding in different ways based on the nature of work, competitive landscape, and other health factors related to the safety of comingling. 

Macro Change 2: The increasing intensity of work

Leaders also face new demands brought on by the pandemic (frankly, even before, if we are honest with ourselves). First, leaders feel more urgency to respond to competition and innovate to improve products and services. In responding to the crisis, 78% of leaders said they had to be more prepared to respond to the competition in their industry and 61% of leaders said they had to be more prepared to innovate to improve products and services**. This leaves a feeling within leaders of higher stakes and less margin for error. This can mean a host of reactions . . . from giving up to leaning in to just getting by.  

Macro Change 3: The widening knowing-doing gap

Many investments have been made to train leaders on how to engage our team members for better outcomes. We've been stalled for lots of reasons over long periods of times. In all my 20 years in the leadership space, I have not observed a more critical time to close the gap between knowing and doing. Knowing means I understand intellectually. Doing means I have absorbed and adopted the knowledge into a different behavior or way of doing. 

These changes are incredibly influential on all of us as leaders . . . me included. 

As I have navigated my leadership trajectory there isn't one of the three macro changes that have not influenced me. From adapting to leading hybrid and alternative work arrangements to the intensity within my own work, I'm feeling the need to truly accelerate my own application of leadership and management principles—it's an epic time in leadership. 

Ultimately, as I have faced and contemplated the above macro changes, I know we are up for the challenge. I know for the thousands of leaders we work with that they are getting up each day and they are hungry. They are searching for new ways of serving, loving the impact they can have on others, and in turn know how amazing the impacts of this mindset are on their family and friends. 

So, what does all this mean for how we develop leaders? 

Through our research and work with clients, we are seeing several implications or micro-level changes to how we design leadership programs. I'll offer more on each of these leadership design implications during our upcoming webinar.

For now, I'll offer these highlights to consider: 

  • Hybrid execution will be the new norm to mirror hybrid/remote workplaces; this isn't old school virtual learning but a new era of highly interactive and engaging experiences. 
  • Decentralized learning in peer-to-peer formats is on the rise because it is an incredibly powerful way to connect and share experiences in an increasingly disconnected world. 
  • Inclusive leadership and the associated focus on relationships, connections, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness will continue to weigh large on our work; we must find creative ways to layer in DEIAB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging) into all we are offering in our leadership development programs. 
  • Collaborative learning, in action and within teams, is fertile training ground; we'll find new ways to engage one-up managers to train in place for next place.
  • Democratization of coaching will be a larger priority; each person's role is unique and offering more personalized assistance to navigate through the pressing changes will be a big part of accelerating learning.
  • On the leading edge, we must start considering how artificial intelligence and digitization will present us with new modalities to simulate learning in real time. 

So, what is the good news? Hunger is high. 

Our leaders need solutions to help them deal with these macro changes to their environment. 

What an amazing foundation to build upon—from contradiction to affirmation to transformation. As leadership development practitioners, we are in this journey together. What an exciting time to be in the leadership development space! 

I, for one, couldn't be more thrilled to be learning and serving in this space and can't wait to see what we all discover together. 

For a deeper dive, check out my thoughts in a recent webinar on the 7 skills leaders need to thrive in the new normal.

I'll be continuing my study and research and be presenting more detail on leadership program design, along with case studies in a new white paper, in September. You can sign up here.


Photo by Gabriel Izgi on Unsplash

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Krista Skidmore

Krista Skidmore , CEO and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She manages FlashPoint's strategic direction with integrity and insight.