Companies are going through a massive digital transformation because technology has augmented every facet of the way we work. It is increasingly apparent that companies must continuously evolve, and employees must continually learn new skills to stay competitive in today’s world. One important step that can propel the competitiveness is democratizing leadership development.
A 2018 study found that with the rapid pace of change and technological innovation, the top challenges that CEOs face is developing the next generation of leaders. We’re in the midst of a massive leadership skills gap, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that we must begin to democratize leadership development.
Traditionally, leadership developed has been tremendously regulated and has also limited how organizations can identify true potential. The prescriptive approach to leader development, as opposed to encouraging individuals to take control of their learning, has led people to believe someone else is responsible for their progress and development. However, it is crucial to recognize that in the 21st century, the priority should be to create democratized learning programs that empower high-potential and emerging future leaders by providing apt training and support. The average age when managers first receive leadership training is 42 years, which is nearly ten years after most begin supervising people.
Create a learning culture
To build democratized learning, organizations need first to embrace a learning culture. That will help them make a lasting impact instead of a short-term fix. The best way to do that is when the executive team sets an example and helps all employees understand the value of skills development and learning at work. To amplify the message and scale development, organizations can make every employee a teacher to their peers. No matter the level, all employees have something to teach each other, and creating collaborative learning is crucial for organizations to succeed. Once there is a culture of learning and evangelized leadership development across the company, continuous learning will be accepted and internalized much more seamlessly.
Embrace online learning
With a rapidly changing workforce and evolving leadership roles, employees at every level need to upskill themselves. However, financial constraints prevent organizations from extending development opportunities more widely. Off-site leadership programs or boot camps can be costly and very time-consuming. That is why organizations are increasingly turning to online platforms that save on travel costs while deriving the same value from quality leadership content.
With access to online courses and experts, organizations can open the gates and offer training traditionally reserved for high-level executives to their entire workforce. Online learning also ensures that learning content is being updated regularly. The many flexible learning options available today mean that anyone can learn when, where, and what they choose to learn, at their own pace.
Open the gates and make learning social
Lastly, organizations can roll out programs that help employees receive casual mentorship from anyone in the organization. Informal learning, which is aided by interaction and conversation at the workplace, is often a significant source of information and knowledge for employees. Research has found that 50 to 80 percent of all workplace learning is informal and social in nature.
To navigate the future successfully, it’s essential to open the gates of leadership development by expanding training programs and revising the criteria used to identify potential leaders. Organizations need to take all employees out of the passenger seat and put them into the driver’s seat of their development. With a sense of ownership, not only will they feel more responsible for the outcome, but they will also develop more quickly.
There is no denying that technology is quickly transforming how we work. To stay competitive, organizations must create a culture of learning from within while employees must embrace the idea of lifelong learning. Specifically, organizations should consider democratizing leadership development and making sure that managers of all levels and functions have access to the necessary training that helps them succeed in their jobs.