Addressing the Learning & Development Gap for Emerging Leaders

The latest data indicates that a significant proportion (23%) of employers are neglecting to offer sufficient learning and development (L&D) assistance to cultivate their emerging young leaders.

According to research conducted by Winckworth Sherwood, a firm of solicitors and parliamentary agents, the results also indicate that 69% of HR leaders feel that the current provision of learning and development (L&D) by organizations is insufficient.

The Leadership Development report, based on a YouGov survey conducted between March and April 2023, surveyed 1,000 employees and 500 HR decision-makers. The report highlights a problematic gap between learning and development and leadership, providing valuable insights and recommendations for employers.

Three significant obstacles in fostering future leaders

According to a survey, 84% of employers face obstacles in providing leadership development opportunities. They commonly cite time constraints as the main issue. To address this challenge, it is suggested that top-level management should be fully committed to supporting learning and development initiatives. This involves ensuring that leaders at all levels have enough dedicated time for learning without interruptions. Additionally, the report recommends aligning learning and development programs with the organization’s strategy and culture. For instance, implementing self-paced, on-demand learning can empower leaders to take ownership of their own professional growth.

According to 34% of participants, financial constraints were identified as the second obstacle. The report emphasizes the importance of senior leaders understanding the purpose of Learning and Development (L&D) in order to allocate a budget. In addition to presenting compelling business cases to the board, the report suggests exploring ways to implement L&D without significant financial expenditures. It highlights the value of informal learning methods such as in-house coaching, mentoring, leadership shadowing, on-the-job learning, lunch-and-learn sessions, and networking with peers. These informal approaches are deemed equally important as external training and provide organizations with a cost-effective and highly impactful means to educate, support, mentor, and develop leaders.

The third obstacle to leaders in achieving effective L&D, as reported by 30% of the participants, is the insufficient availability of internal resources. To address this issue, organizations should clearly define the intended purpose or return on investment of their L&D initiatives and align them closely with the overall goals of the organization. It is important to prioritize the essential aspects of the L&D program so as not to strain internal resources beyond their capacity.

Infrequently Renewed Leadership skills and training

A mere 25% of employers consistently update the skills of their leaders, and an additional 31% opt to refresh their leaders’ skill sets every two to five years. 8% openly acknowledge that they never refresh skills, while 19% admit not providing any skills or leadership training to their leaders.

In today’s ever-evolving world, characterized by rapid technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and unpredictable market conditions, it is crucial for leaders to regularly update their skills. The authors of the report emphasize the importance of staying abreast with these changes to navigate the increasing unpredictability and volatility of the global landscape.

In addition to attending formal refresher training and structured learning programs, it is highly recommended that employers embrace informal methods, such as in-house coaching, mentoring, and on-the-job learning, that are ingrained in the overall culture of ongoing growth. This approach entails fostering a learning-oriented mindset among leaders, including those at the highest leadership level, who should continuously seek knowledge and development. Integrating an ICF certified executive coach into the organization’s learning and development initiatives can further enhance this process by providing personalized guidance and support to leaders, helping them unlock their full potential.