COVID-19 continues to impact the world of business in ways we never imagined and so too must our approach to leadership development.
Senior leaders have a twofold challenge: ensuring their own skillset is up-to-date and relevant and ensuring that the organisation’s future leaders are equipped with the skills and capabilities that will be required to transform, grow and prosper in the future.
Rialto Consultancy has been reviewing the key trends emerging as a result of Covid-19 including the greater need for even more digital business change, the continuation of remote working, changes in customer mindset and behaviour, changes in employee expectations, including greater wellbeing focus as well as specific industry issues. More than ever, our teams are advocating that people and commercial strategies must be aligned if companies are to stimulate innovation, increase efficiencies and agility to respond to further and ongoing changes.
Nurturing and encouraging the best contributions and impact from all talent is a priority, including further investments in upskilling digital skills.
Identifying and developing a deep pool of next-generation leaders is essential in order to compete. Successfully delivering effective leadership development programmes, increasingly requires organisations to scan market trends to see the bigger picture on how future developments in the world of business and work will impact on their organisation and sector.
So as we move into the third quarter of 2020, how can you ensure leadership development has maximum impact? Rialto has identified key areas of focus.
The pace and scale of change means leaders and their teams must be at the top of their game and ensure they have the knowledge and capabilities to manage it. But this will be the bare minimum requirement if UK firms are to tackle the biggest skills challenges they’ve ever faced.
Leaders must elevate their focus on the impact disruption and remote working is having on workforces and ensure the right learning programmes are in place. These must go beyond traditional development programmes. They must recognise the importance of brokering learning experiences as well as connecting employees to learning experiences across the organisation. Technologies like AI and machine learning are continuing to displace, change and create new ways of working and jobs at all levels with a new premium being put on soft skills to ensure the human-digital workforce works to optimum effect.
Rialto will be partnering with business leaders over the coming months to help them maintain the right balance of emerging, existing and legacy skills to help drive transformation and respond to disruption. We believe it is important for organisations to develop these skills in-house as competition will remain fierce for critical talent segments.
The requirement for leaders to be agents of change and ensure their teams can effectively implement transformation programmes (operational, digital or otherwise), will continue to be a priority throughout 2020 and beyond.
Rialto has observed that many leaders are ill-equipped to deal with such change while others simply aren’t prepared for the shorter timeframes in which it must be effected. They also lack clarity on how to ensure organisational design supports the faster and more agile work practices that are required in the current climate. Employee experience is also a key factor in successful change management and this is still being overlooked.
In our experience, many of these problems stem from change management not being accurately reflected/represented in leadership development programmes. The need for change will be ongoing in the next decade so organisations must identify what skills and capabilities will be needed for future transformation programmes and find ways to impart them.
Employees have even higher expectations of their leaders and are keen to see accountability and transparency in both actions and behaviours. In short, they want authentic leaders who they can trust and who set the standards bar high for others to follow.
In the connected, always-on world in which we are bombarded with information and messages, it will be the leaders who are able to create time and space for meaningful and honest conversations about real issues that are impacting their team and the organisation. Rialto has also encountered more organisations building this type of approach into their leadership development programmes. They want to empower leaders to be able to have consequential conversations to those above and below them to help drive decision-making.
Many of the problems that leaders face today and in future cannot be solved with traditional approaches so they must be able to quickly adapt their thinking and actions.
Resilience, agility and adaptability have been a pre-requisite part of a leader’s make-up since the global recession more than 10 years ago. Current changes and development will continue to place a premium on these traits. Leaders must be able to challenge their own thinking as well as that of others. They need to be able to adapt to work in ecosystems as these will be a source of new thinking that could lead to solutions.
The future will not only be about leaders building their own resilience and agility though but ensuring it is embedded across their workforces. The ongoing transformation organisations face can take its toll and lead to employees hitting a point of diminishing performance which prevents them from delivering on goals.
Leaders must help teams to become more resilient but also ensure the environment created is supportive to create and implement transformational strategies and initiatives.