Leadership Development: Going Extinct or Merely Transforming?

Leadership Coaching

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of attending a few conferences, symposiums and small gatherings comprised of different groups that represent various functions in the training and development worlds.

At these functions, I was surprised to see one common theme carried through like a red thread in the form of a couple questions.

The questions are similar to these:

  • In today’s VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity,) is the need for Leadership Development professionals diminishing?
  • As the expectation that business leaders own more of their development and with online/social media-delivered learning becoming more the norm, will training professionals become obsolete?

While the group’s initial reaction to these questions were defensive in nature, once we got past fearing for our jobs, the conversation got interesting.

New and deeper questions emerged:

  • If, as we posited, our expertise were  to be in less demand, what role would we play?
  • As boards are expecting business leaders to take more responsibility to drive bottom-line results with fewer dead bodies left in their wake, at what point do they become self-aware enough where we are no longer needed in the same way?
  • Do we have to become as savvy about finance, EBITA, P&L statements and gross margin as they are becoming about flexing styles, providing feedback and writing an excellent set of goals?


On Specialization and Preferences

“But wait…” many thought.

“If we had wanted that type of role, we would’ve gone down that path. We love our jobs, and don’t want to see them change so fundamentally!”

The discussions followed some of these themes:  

Yes, things are changing.

And yes, classroom learning is becoming outdated to some extent.

Measuring Results

At one symposium, we had a mix of vendors and talent leaders in the room. The question was asked about measuring the impact of learning programs, not in dollars but in positive adaption of behavior change.

In other words, how can we tell if the program actually made a difference beyond good scores on a smile sheet.

The vendors had no answers…

We all agreed learning programs, delivered the traditional way, need to be better measured and evaluated for impact on the bottom line or they will become irrelevant in today’s economy.

On Handling Blind Spots

However, learning is only part of what we do as Leadership Development professionals. If leaders knew where they needed help, we wouldn’t have jobs.

But the very definition of a blind spot is that you can’t see it.

Key areas of our expertise lie in delivering assessments, providing coaching and development programs, and providing opportunities for leaders to improve in targeted areas, which then helps them drive their business more effectively.

Removing professional trainers and coaches from that equation would leave many leaders unaware of their issues and thus unable to solve them.

Having a neutral party come in, diagnose individual or team challenges, and provide solutions to resolve said challenges are interventions that we all agreed continue to be key to businesses’ ongoing success.

The Final Word…

So what was the verdict of our many discussions?

Some aspects of leadership development may disappear.

But if we continue to evolve with technology, bring a higher accountability for tracking and communicating impact to the bottom line, and add value with our ability to help drive awareness,we will be needed for a long time to come.

So what are some of the changes that you seen materialize over the last 10 years in the leadership learning space? How has technology helped or hindered actual performance you have seen? What are you doing about bring better controls and measurements to your practice to help prove bottom-line results? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Rachel Wallins is VP Leadership Development at Wolters Kluwer
She provides overall Talent Management Strategy Development and Implementation

Email | LinkedIn |  Web 

Image Sources: wdmerriam.com

Leaders: How to Get Your Next Job

Resume Stack

In my career as a Leadership/OD practitioner, I have had the great luck of making some great hires. I have also had the not-so-great luck of making some not-so-great hires.

Along the way, however, I have found that having an open position can drive some of us to drink.

Whine & Wine

Right now for a recruiter or hiring manager, having an open job requisition seems to be an anomaly and a luxury, rather than a reason to whine and wine.

But I am finding it is still harder than I would’ve thought to get the right hire in the right role.

Tailor Made???

I recently posted an open role and saw a plethora of resumes come in.

Job Candidate

The first thing I was struck by was how some people did not tailor their resume to the leadership development position I was posting.

~ I got OD people…

~ I got HR people…

~ I got Talent Development people…

~ I got Recruiters…

And even got one wayward Accounting guy who must have gotten lost somewhere in the corridors of Indeed.com.

What I didn’t get much of, however, were people who spent the extra 10-minutes tailoring their resume to what the job really was.

What happened to the advice we all heard that key words mattered?

Know Your Audience

Did these applicants not ever hear the blatantly obvious advice that:

  • Hiring managers would only spend five seconds reading your resume?
  • You needed to make a quick case for your candidacy?
  • Using your current work email address as your contact makes us feel uncomfortable and bad for your current manager?

Once I was able to dig through the chaff to get to the wheat and had phone interviews, I found that I had to spend time focusing some of the candidates on relevant pieces of their resume.

These candidates had good experience and great qualifications, but I wish I didn’t have to work so hard to find that out.

Finding Good Talent

Those of us who have worked in and around HR, leadership, and employee engagement know that hiring someone for our own team is fraught with savvy questions, tough sells, and sometimes deep probes into our company’s value for our function and the service value profit chain.

I love that. I do that. I hope you do it too.

But with the amount of fantastic talent out there, looking for work, I would like to ask those of you that have open positions:

  • Are you finding what I am finding?
  • That there is good talent out there, but they don’t always know how to market themselves?
  • How can we help our brothers and sisters to be more savvy candidates and pitch more effectively for roles?

According to SHRM, we are going to see more turnover and thus more open roles.

All I know is, I am almost out of wine, and no one wants to hear me whine. Ideas, anyone?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Rachel Wallins is VP Leadership Development at Wolters Kluwer
She provides overall Talent Management Strategy Development and Implementation

Email | LinkedIn |  Web 

Image Sources: joblirious.com, software-documentmanagement.com


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