Cre­at­ing a pipe­line for suc­cess

Ac­cord­ing to busi­ness leader and for­mer Gen­eral Elec­tric (GE) CEO, Jack Welch, an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s abil­ity to trans­late learn­ing into ac­tion is its ul­ti­mate com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage writes Rosie Cairnes.

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Rosie Cairnes

In Jack Welch’s 21 years as CEO, the com­pany in­creased 4,000 per cent and re­alised a mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of more than $US400 bil­lion. His ap­proaches to lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment and man­age­ment have since been adopted by or­gan­i­sa­tions all over the world and his proven method­olo­gies echoed through­out Learn­ing and De­vel­op­ment (L&D) cir­cles.

Busi­ness lead­ers recog­nise the value of in­vest­ing in sound lead­er­ship, as ev­i­denced by a Bersin by Deloitte sur­vey* (2013) that shows or­gan­i­sa­tions are spend­ing more on lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment than ever be­fore. How­ever, the same sur­vey showed 75 per cent of re­spon­dents say their or­gan­i­sa­tion’s lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grams miss the mark in terms of ef­fec­tive­ness; three quar­ters of lead­er­ship teams sur­veyed failed to achieve busi­ness goals; and more than half of global ex­ec­u­tives cite lack of lead­er­ship as a rea­son the com­pany does not man­age mar­ket changes ef­fec­tively.


Many or­gan­i­sa­tions still rely on tra­di­tional lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment meth­ods; fo­cused on class­room, re­source-in­ten­sive, face-to-face learn­ing. Fur­ther­more, a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of L&D dol­lars are in­vested in those in the high­est ranks of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

In to­day’s ‘overex­tended’, ever-chang­ing work land­scape, lead­ers are un­der im­mense pres­sure from stake­hold­ers, the board and share­hold­ers to per­form – and per­form fast. As baby boomers move to­wards re­tire­ment, lead­er­ship po­si­tions are com­ing to younger and less ex­pe­ri­enced team mem­bers. Many show high po­ten­tial but do not have the lux­ury of ex­pe­ri­ence to at­tain ‘lift-off’ as quickly as the fu­ture busi­ness cli­mate will de­mand.

To pre­vent crit­i­cal skill gaps in the fu­ture and keep the or­gan­i­sa­tion per­form­ing at a high level, strate­gic de- ci­sions must be made to en­sure lead­ers and sup­ported and nur­tured.


Lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment has evolved rapidly over the last few years to bet­ter serve the global mar­ket­place and keep pace with tech­no­log­i­cal change. Mov­ing for­ward, the most suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions will adapt learn­ing to fit the di­verse needs of lead­ers at all lev­els, as they re­alise a one-size-fits-all ap­proach does not work for to­day’s pro­fes­sion­als in to­day’s work con­text.

As mod­ern work­places be­come more mo­bile, so­cial and flex­i­ble, busi­ness lead­ers must look to new tech­nolo­gies that can deliver a higher pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­turn on in­vest­ment. The Welch Way is a unique pro­gram de­vel­oped by Jack Welch. As a set of out­come-based elearn­ing pro­grams, it de­liv­ers the core lead­er­ship skills all man­agers need; through ac­tion-based, prac­ti­cal meth­ods. By tai­lor­ing learn­ing in­for­mally and de­liv­er­ing it through con­tin­u­ous, mi­cro-bursts of train­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, mem­ory re­ten­tion in­creases and learn­ing is more likely to be im­ple­mented into daily prac­tice.


• En­cour­age lead­er­ship at all lev­els: In a global, com­pet­i­tive busi­ness cli­mate, lead­ers must iden­tify lead­er­ship as a col­lec­tive en­deav­our and an on-go­ing process in or­der to ‘prime the lead­er­ship pipe­line’ and strengthen all lay­ers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. As­tute lead­ers en­cour­age lead­er­ship be­hav­iours among all mem­bers of their team. This makes em­ploy­ees more ac­count­able for their ac­tions and re­moves or­gan­i­sa­tional bar­ri­ers; en­cour­ag­ing greater re­spon­si­bil­ity, in­no­va­tion, prob­lem-solv­ing abil­i­ties and the mo­ti­va­tion to suc­ceed. When em­ploy­ees are em­pow­ered to take on lead­er­ship roles ear­lier on in their ca­reers, they are in a bet­ter, more ex­pe­ri­enced po­si­tion to “step up” to a lead­er­ship role later on. • Col­lab­o­ra­tion with L&D teams: Lead­ers must make sure busi­ness goals, growth op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­sired or­gan­i­sa­tional out­comes are vis­i­ble and trans­par­ent to L&D teams. This way, teams are in a bet­ter po­si­tion to de­velop prag­matic, ac­tion­able pro­grams and strate­gies which hit the mark on or­gan­i­sa­tional need. Giv­ing HR ex­po­sure to busi­ness de­ci­sions made at the top will help iden­tify and deliver new re­sources that com­ple­ment the ‘mod­ern busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment’. • Keep pace with cur­rent tech­nolo­gies: De­spite con­stantly evolv­ing work en­vi­ron­ments, or­gan­i­sa­tions have been slow to adapt to tech­nolo­gies that as­sist in de­liv­er­ing stronger lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment out­comes. Pro­fes­sion­als to­day de­mand the right to work more flex­i­bly – and have ap­pro­pri­ate mo­bile de­vices to sup­port their work. Mov­ing for­ward busi­ness lead­ers will see a bet­ter re­sponse to learn­ing ini­tia­tives, and deliver a stronger re­turn on in­vest­ment if they em­brace new tech­nolo­gies which syn­chro­nise lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment into daily work flows. In­vest­ing in dy­namic lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grams at all lev­els will pro­vide a frame­work to help pre­pare an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s cur­rent and po­ten­tial lead­ers for the myr­iad of busi­ness chal­lenges ahead of them. Those lead­ers that ac­cept the chal­lenge of de­vel­op­ing skilled lead­ers, will leave a strong legacy and a foot­print for fu­ture suc­cess. • Five Trends in Lev­er­ag­ing Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment to Drive a Com­pet­i­tive Ad­van­tage by Bersin by Deloitte (2013). Rosie Cairnes is Re­gional Leader Aus­tralia and New Zealand at Skill­soft Asia Pa­cific.

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