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Leader Needs and Preferences Are Changing. Leadership Development Must Keep Up.

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Millennial Leaders view leadership development differently than other generations

Each year FlashPoint explores upcoming leadership development trends and research to understand how we can better develop leaders. This year’s research showed important themes around developing leadership programs that lead to optimal results and a steady and ready pipeline of leaders.

With 80 percent of business leaders responding that greater innovation is needed in learning techniques used in leadership development programs, we have clear support from the business to challenge the status quo and improve how we develop leaders (Harvard Business Publishing, 2018).

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Our first trend is centered on the leaders themselves. A program can’t be effective without taking the audience into account.

 

Our Leaders Aren’t Who They Used to Be

We know that Millennials represent the majority of the workforce. And we know they are our leaders of today, with 44 percent of Millennials in leadership positions (Deloitte, 2017). When we take into account the change in workplace demographics, it’s clear that our learners are changing–and so are their preferences.

Millennials view development programs differently than their Boomer counterparts, with only half of Millennials seeing strong alignment between program content and business issues facing the organization. Boomers responded quite differently, with 75 percent feeling that program content is aligned with business issues (Harvard Business Publishing, 2018).

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Leader Preferences Are Changing

We’ve seen a trend toward leaders who prefer to be in the driver’s seat of their learning experiences. 74 percent of leaders believe that they should be in control of their learning with L&D practitioners playing only a supporting role (Harvard Business Publishing, 2018). These leaders are pushing back on one-size-fits-all programs created by centralized development functions that often don’t fully address the leaders’ interests or needs nearly as well compared to a development opportunity that they choose.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that training cannot rest only in the learners’ choices. We’ve seen leaders who think just because they’ve completed a training, they are proficient in the skill covered. In reality, gaining skills is rarely a one-time item you can check off your to-do list. And for more tenured professionals, it’s easy to believe that because they have been doing something over the long-term means they are proficient in the skills even when that might not be the case.

 

To us, these statistics come back to one thing: We need to transform how we provide training to our leaders. We must be creative, give more choice, allow for more personalization, and not just respond to, but anticipate, dynamic business needs.

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Krista Skidmore

Krista Skidmore , Esq., Partner and Cofounder of FlashPoint, is passionate about all things leadership. She leads the FlashPoint consulting team to ensure they deliver results to clients with intelligence and integrity. 

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