Sticky notes with HR priorities


How is HR Developing Leaders Right Now?

When it comes to developing leaders, what are HR's top priorities? LeaderCon 2019 offered a view of what's going on inside organizations.

Publish Date: October 30, 2019

Read Time: 5 min

Author: John Verdone

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What are HR’s top priorities when it comes to developing leaders?

A few weeks ago at LeaderCon 2019, we had a great opportunity to find out. The event in Clearwater Beach, Fla., brought together more than 180 HR pros from around the world.

Across three days, they revealed how HR is developing leaders right now. How is leadership development evolving? What concerns and new trends are taking center stage? What does the future look like?

These questions were addressed—along with a sampling of current leadership development priorities—in the following takeaways from LeaderCon 2019.

Linking leadership initiatives to business priorities

As it focuses on developing leaders, HR continues to encounter skepticism from leaders who view new development programs as "the flavor of the month.” 

Some of this skepticism may have been earned through a past lack of organizational commitment. But HR executives we talked to understand they have an opportunity to prove the value of their programs to a new generation of leaders and senior stakeholders. Those new to their roles may not have been around for those short-lived programs of the past.

What’s more, HR has never been more aware of what’s required for initiatives to be sustainable. They know they must be aligned with the business and support strategic priorities.

Personalizing learning for leadership development

There was a lot of buzz about the continued rise of personalized learning—and how to design and scale personalized experiences. Organizations shared various approaches to personalize for their business context as well as for specific leadership roles.

They also talked about providing leaders with options for learning just-in-time and on-demand, and how assessment and self-insight tools can also personalize development programs.

Transforming development from an “event” to an “experience”

One of the most popular sessions at LeaderCon was on learning journeys or cohort-based leadership programs. These programs can include opportunities for formal training (and yes, classroom is indeed still king—even for Millennials!), assessments, coaching, development assignments, and online on-demand learning, among other modalities.

Leaders from several organizations shared how they have designed and delivered scalable learning journeys for cross-functional cohorts across multiple levels to address the needs of leading self, leading others, and leading the business.

Developing executives (Yes, they need development, too)

There was a lot of discussion about the importance of executive support to making a leadership development program effective. But there was also widespread talk about the executive level itself.

HR leaders from several organizations said they are implementing multilevel and whole-pipeline development approaches. These include programs that address the needs of leaders transitioning to the executive level. These leaders often benefit from assessment to identify their specific development needs. They also gain from executive coaching to work through specific issues and challenges.

In addition, organizations are focused on having the right leaders in place at all levels. One CHRO shared how the organization needed to act when it found it did not have the right executives in place after an acquisition to cultivate a culture of innovation and growth. A senior director at another organization, meanwhile, talked about how her company uses data to select the right leaders at every level and then applies that same data to inform development and performance management discussions.

Integrating new technologies

While the L&D technology landscape can prove daunting, there’s clearly interest in integrating new technologies in smart and impactful ways.

LeaderCon attendees took part in a popular discussion session in which they examined technology challenges. They also sampled new technologies that excited them.

Among these was a new technology from Rhabit Analytics that makes providing feedback to a leader as easy as “swiping” left or right on a cell phone. Attendees also had the opportunity to experience DDI’s Virtual Reality Inclusion Experience, which was recently named a Top HR Product of 2019 by Human Resource Executive magazine.

Beyond the exclamations of “So cool!” and “Awesome!” was genuine interest in integrating new technology into initiatives sooner than later.

The enthusiasm for these technologies dispelled the view that HR is a “late adopter” when it comes to new innovations.

Be part of the conversation

These key takeaways are but a quick summary of the invaluable and generous exchange of insights and practices at LeaderCon. The conference sparked enthusiasm and rave reviews, including specific feedback from the attendees:

  • “I found the interactions with like-minded folks, the quality of the breakout sessions, and overall culture of the event to be terrific. I returned home with new ideas, connections, learning, and actions that I know can improve our growth path.”
  • “I really found value in attending and being able to connect with others.”
  • “Four of us attended and had a terrific experience. We have several takeaways to discuss and consider adapting to our leadership team!”

Sign up for the email list to be notified when registration opens for LeaderCon 2020.

John Verdone is a Senior Consultant for DDI, facilitating courses and programs across a wide array of industries. John was the lead emcee for LeaderCon 2019. He lives in Southern California.

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