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Developing Managers Into Modern Global Leaders

Data and business analytics are helping people to make better decisions and think more strategically about where the organization is going. The winners are going to be those who ask the right questions and move beyond the reams of available data to actionable insights that will drive their business.

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A recent survey of Chief HR Officers and Chief Learning Officers, largely from Fortune 500 companies, commissioned by Darden Executive Education, identified four big trends – technology disruption, the fast pace of growth, neuroscience research and changing consumer values – that are converging to make senior leaders rethink the design and even the identity of their organizations.


Managers are the greatest leverage point organizations have to address the challenges presented by these trends. From recruiting and onboarding, to succession planning, to performance management, to learning and development, and to diversity and inclusion, there is a need to find ways to get behind managers and help them lead the development of employees. They too need to become today’s modern global leaders.


The CHRO/CLO survey reveals some stark evidence that supports the need for executive education that reaches deeper into companies to develop the managerial capability. For example, while most organizations broadly reported the importance of the role of managers in driving business results and leading others, only 13% reported proactively taking steps to move away from ratings and process-driven performance management and making efforts to equip managers with the skills to enable the performance of others through dialogue and conversation.


Strategic thinking was the buzzword for many years, and it’s still important. Managers throughout the organization need to think more strategically and more holistically about their business, about their competitors’ businesses, and about business in society as a whole. The difference now and in the future is that, with digitization, data analytics has become a big part of thinking strategically.


Data and business analytics are helping people to make better decisions and think more strategically about where the organization is going. The winners are going to be those who ask the right questions and move beyond the reams of available data to actionable insights that will drive their business. This brings a lot of leadership context to the forefront, things like understanding and judgment - there’s a bigger need to really understand a person is as a leader and as a manager, and how those behaviors both accelerate decision making and firm success. 


If a manager aspired to global leadership, another key area he/she should strengthen is around purpose and values and being able to give voice to those values. Having a clear purpose, coupled with resilience, allows managers to really understand how their experiences and actions shape not only their own development but help push their firm forward and how it shapes the development of those that they lead or interact with, such as their clients or their peers.


These areas that need strengthening circle together to underline the vital importance of integrating leadership and management. The integration of leadership into management has moved not just from being really critical; it’s something that has to happen in order for managers to become the next generation of modern global leaders.


While going deeper into larger organizations is really important, there is also great potential for executive education to assist smaller and mid-sized business that might not have a learning team and are just beginning to professionalize some of the Learning and Development functions that large organizations have. 


In terms of how new thinking is affecting the way programs are being designed, the evolution is really in the expectation that they will be dynamic and responsive to the changing landscape. There’s not one learning approach that works best, it’s a combination. Socratic method teaching, when done is very spontaneous. A variety of different experiential methodologies can also be included in the learning journey including storytelling, immersive experiences, reflection, assessment, coaching, simulations, holistic wellness, and others. It’s this confluence of approaches that makes the learning experience so personal, so applicable to each individual’s situation and ultimately what drives measurable impact for the learner and the organization.


It is important for business schools to pay attention to the trend towards micro-learning, bearing in mind the evidence that today’s learner expects learning to be available when and where they need it. Online micro-learning delivered just in time and anywhere in the world has its place but also has limitations. While there are many diverse players in this area, where business schools have an advantage, particularly research-based institutions such as Darden School of Business that are also very strongly connected to practicing managers, is that they can frame questions to prompts from micro-learning in a way that, really allows people to grow in their own personal development. Business schools have, through the intellectual curiosity that exists among faculty, a huge upside potential for that.


Growth takes time and commitment – it doesn’t happen overnight. I think that is a challenge, but also a huge opportunity.



This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue Nov-Dec 2018'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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