L&D: are you leaving executives out?

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Many HR professionals will be part of an organization that strives to invest in the development of aspiring leaders and those in the early stages of their management careers – but according to one L&D expert, senior leaders are overlooked all too often, with little being done to deliberately influence their development.

“There’s a reason why so many organizations lack a clear succession plan for the CEO position,” said Karen Gately, business author and founder of Ryan Gately.

“Even CEOs must keep raising their game if they are to keep pace with the demands of their role.”

According to Gately, leading any organization into the future requires agility and learning – and changing and evolving demands require new talents and ways of thinking.

“How does the CEO of your organization have their thinking challenged; how do they learn and adapt, or develop their ability to make decisions concerning matters they haven’t faced before?”

Development strategies

Gately said that attending industry events or conferences and networking are common examples given by senior leaders when asked how they keep learning.

“While unquestionably valuable, these forums typically provide limited opportunities for real learning reflected in behavioural and capability change,” she said, suggesting that organizations consider four key areas when it comes to L&D strategies for senior executives.

1. Leadership circles

“Bring groups of senior leaders together to share their experiences and learn from one another,” Gately advised.

“Whether provided by a third-party organization or facilitated internally, leadership groups that meet regularly can provide powerful learning opportunities.

“When leaders feel connected to the group and are willing to be open and engaged, the impact on their development can be immense.”

2. Executive development programs

Gately said that leaders should be supported and encouraged to undertake development programs that advance their credentials but more importantly grow their capabilities.

“Invest in those programs that provide far more than theoretical perspectives,” she explained.

“Look for institutions and courses that offer executives the opportunity to apply lessons to their roles and organizations.”

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