Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John F. Kennedy
In the past, leaders were expected to have deep knowledge in one specific area. However, today’s business environment is much more complex and demanding. This means that leaders must possess a broader understanding of multiple industries and global influences to be truly successful.
Today’s dynamic leaders need to quickly adapt to an ever-changing business landscape. Keeping pace with the competition requires a commitment to seek out and acquire new knowledge and skills. More than ever it’s essential for those in leadership positions to take advantage of innovative opportunities to gain a well-rounded skill set encompassing hard skills, as well as emotional intelligence, communication abilities and creativity.
Staying ahead of the curve demands taking a leadership role in identifying learning opportunities to augment your team’s hard skills and soft skills. Let’s drill down into the latest trends in leadership development.
One simple way to gain a competitive advantage is to proactively seek out opportunities to learn about new subjects. You can do this by attending conferences, reading books and articles or taking online courses. Additionally, it’s important to identify opportunities to practice what you have learned. You can also share resources and offer real-world learning opportunities, mentoring and positive reinforcement to up-and-coming leaders. This will not only help you improve your own skills, but also show your team that you’re committed to their professional development.
Smart technologies now make leadership training experiences designed to be more personalized and interactive than traditional learning methods. This trend is all about giving leaders the chance to interact more with technology and provide feedback. Active digital learning can take different forms, but some examples include online simulations, virtual reality exercises and gaming platforms. Let’s look at how opportunities are being delivered to leaders in innovative ways:
A type of learning that focuses on digesting small, bite-sized pieces of information, micro-learning embodies a unique way of providing personalized and interactive professional development opportunities to busy executives. These experiences are typically much shorter in duration than traditional learning methods, and they focus on one specific skill or concept in a condensed time frame.
By breaking down content into smaller chunks, leaders can more easily absorb and retain information. Delivering training in smaller steps and providing feedback along the way allows for better information retention in the long run. Shorter duration sessions allow people to prioritize learning in the time they do have available. This makes it easy for busy professionals who want to learn new skills quickly.
Today’s generations entering the workforce have grown up using a myriad of gamification tools for fun and learning. Only about 20 percent of video gamers are now children and teens, with adult gamers comprising the vast majority.
Gaming has gone mainstream, so think about ways to engage budding leaders—and seasoned professionals—by incorporating game elements in non-game contexts. Leaderboards, badges, points and other forms of digital gamification can be powerful and compelling tools to engage learners and promote active learning. Leadership team members might ‘level up’ by participating in learning modules and achieving professional milestones. Milestone achievements by individuals and teams can be shared among colleagues to build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
Gamification programs incorporating virtual reality (VR) can provide exciting immersion opportunities for leaders to learn and practice new skills. They can gain valuable practice through simulated business presentations, sales meetings, customer calls and more, before going real time with customers.
Think of it this way: if you were attending a training session, wouldn’t you like to acquire and hone new concepts that align with your aspirations, skill level and development needs in a personalized, engaging way, rather than slog through a generic curriculum meant for the masses?
• Neurolearning and Habit Building
Neurolearning is a type of learning that focuses on how the brain learns best. It considers factors like attention span, short-term memory and emotional state and applies the latest findings from neuroscience to education and learning. Neurolearning concepts can be used to improve the effectiveness of leadership training and development programs.
Habit building is another important aspect of neurolearning as habits are how humans learn best. We are all creatures of habit. By understanding how positive habits are formed (and negative habits broken), we can leverage proven strategies to create memorable and lasting leadership development activities with measurable outcomes.
Both concepts are important to keep in mind when designing any type of learning experience, whether for yourself or your team. Various tools can be used to help assess and pinpoint skills and areas of focus, so you can uniquely develop leadership skills in ways that suit one’s learning styles, preferences, and current role in the company—with an eye toward the future.
The future of leadership is about people. The best companies view personalized learning experiences as a win-win to foster emerging talent from within, while demonstrating a commitment to valued employees. By following these latest trends, you can ensure that you’re providing the best possible learning experiences to keep your team’s leadership development a top priority.