Leadership Workshops – The Key to Training Tomorrow’s Leaders

Leaders – present and future – need critical skills to face the demands of a rapidly changing workplace. Leadership workshops can be a valuable resource in preparing them for the challenges ahead.

Leadership Workshops – The Key to Training Tomorrow’s Leaders
Editorial Team
December 7, 2021
Leadership Workshops – The Key to Training Tomorrow’s Leaders

In the past two years, businesses have been challenged like never before. They’ve had to contend with the Covid-19 health crisis, all its economic repercussions, and a large-scale shift to remote and hybrid work systems. In recent months, they’ve been hit by a storm of resignations as employees reassess their priorities. Overwhelmed with managing depleted teams and dealing with growing workloads and stress, many managers and leaders have simply quit the workforce for a quiet life of retirement. In the aftermath of the pandemic, retirements in the US have gone up considerably. What all of this means is that businesses are facing a very real shortage of leaders.

In two of its recent studies, global HR and leadership consultancy DDI paints a grim picture of the workplace of the future from a leadership perspective. Of the 368 CEOs and 2,102 HR executives interviewed for DDI’s CEO Leadership Report 2021, only 11% say they have the bench strength to fill leadership roles in the future. This is the lowest level in a decade, down from 18% in 2011. Meanwhile, DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2021 says developing the next generation of leaders is the top challenge for CEOs, with 55% of them picking it ahead of other challenges such as global recession, attracting and retaining talent, and driving new product innovation.

The only way businesses can survive the great uncertainties ahead (and that is a certainty) is by training tomorrow’s leaders today. While the pandemic has shrunk company budgets, it is also true that some smart businesses have increased their learning and development spend to keep pace with the ongoing workplace disruptions. Simultaneously, there has been a healthy spurt in interest in learning critical skills and a preference for e-learning among employees.

Learnit offers several relevant leadership workshops that can help businesses bring out the leadership potential in their existing talent. To find a class for your learning needs, click here.

Why the leadership pipeline is running dry

The leadership crisis is a pre-pandemic-era problem that has been aggravated by recent events. Here are the reasons why companies are struggling with depleted leadership bench strength:

  • The number of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, or currently aged 57 to 75 years old) in the US labor force has been declining on average by 2 million every year since 2011. This number has gone up since 2020 with the pandemic pushing 3 million Americans into early retirement (not all of them by choice). Meanwhile, the succession gap is widening. Gen Xers (Americans born between 1965 and 1980, and currently aged 41 to 56 years old) are next in line to step into leadership roles vacated by the Boomers, but new research by Amdocs says 14% of employees in this group are considering quitting  their jobs, 1% more than the Boomer generation. Next up are the Millennials (born 1981-1996), but some aren’t quite ready to step up and become leaders. In fact, the Great Resignation is driven by Millennials and Gen Z (born 1997-2012). Job transitions by Gen Zers are up 80% year-on-year while the figure is 50% year-on-year for Millennials, according to LinkedIn chief executive Ryan Roslansky. Lack of growth and opportunities for learning are the reasons why younger employees are so deeply dissatisfied with their jobs. However, employers can quickly turn this challenge into an opportunity. By giving Millennials and Gen Zers the opportunities they seek, employers will not only be able to retain young talent but also prepare them for future leadership.
  • The Great Resignation – the name given to the phenomenon of more than 19 million Americans quitting their jobs between April and September 2021 – is a major contributor to the leadership crisis. With 48% of working Americans actively job hunting and likely to leave in the coming months, the situation could get a lot more dire in 2022.
  • Burnout is at an all-time high. The previously mentioned Global Leadership Forecast says 60% of the leaders surveyed feel used up at the end of the day. Of this number, 44% expect to change companies to find more meaningful work while 26% expect to leave within the next year.
  • Many organizations lack not just leadership bench strength but also leadership quality. According to the CEO Leadership Report mentioned above, only one in three CEOs says their company’s leadership quality is “very good” or “excellent.”
  • Many companies have neglected to invest in strong succession plans or have allowed these to be sidelined by their day-to-day operations.

Learnit’s Management Strategies for Tomorrow’s Leaders workshop is designed for millennials looking to step up to leadership roles.

Top 5 leadership skills and how leadership workshops can help

While the pandemic pushed companies to implement work-from-home policies, it also made them move their upskilling programs – including leadership training – online. The switch to e-learning has been largely successful. Preference for online learning among leaders is up from 28% before the pandemic to 36% at present, and is expected to rise further to 40% in the future, says DDI’s Global Leadership Trends for 2021. Furthermore, in a survey by European HR industry analyst Fosway, virtual classrooms were voted the most successful platform for e-learning. Let’s take a look at the top skills tomorrow’s leaders need to learn today and how Learnit’s leadership workshops are just the resource they need:

1. Strategic thinking and growth mindset

Strategic thinking is among the top five skills leaders need to work on, say HR leaders who participated in the Global Leadership Forecast. Strategic thinking is a skill that empowers you to use critical thinking to plan for the future. It involves understanding how today’s decisions will impact your company tomorrow. Not all leaders are comfortable with the ambiguity of strategy. But given how VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) the workplace of the future is, leaders cannot do without this skill. Learnit’s Move from an Operational Manager to a Strategic Leader workshop can help leaders develop a strategic mindset, which in turn will prepare them to take on more responsibilities over time and become agents of innovation for their organizations.

A strategic mindset has a close correlation with a growth mindset. To have a growth mindset is to believe that your skills can be developed through perseverance, good strategies, and input from others. Unlike an individual with a fixed mindset, someone with a growth mindset is more concerned about learning and less about looking smart.

With Learnit’s Growth Mindset workshop, you can learn to gain a growth mindset for yourself and bring it to others around you. Strategic thinking and a growth mindset are what will help leaders of tomorrow make the right decisions when dealing with the demands of a rapidly changing workplace.

2. Influencing

Also included in the Global Leadership Forecast’s five must-have skills for leaders is the ability to influence others. According to the University of Florida, “Influence is not to be confused with power or control. It’s not about manipulating others to get your way. It’s about noticing what motivates employee commitment and using that knowledge to leverage performance and positive results.”

A leader can be an influencer only when they have achieved a certain level of success and credibility that empowers them to motivate others. In the old system, leaders were simply promoted into their positions. In the present and future, leadership will be measured by the number of followers you have.

If you wish to be a master influencer, Learnit’s Influencing without Authority workshop can help. It will teach you the techniques and behaviors you need to grow your influence and build trust. For example, you will learn about seeking input on decisions that impact the whole team or involving team members when proposing or implementing changes are behaviors that help build influence. This workshop will also familiarize you with language and behavior that can harm influence and erode trust.

3. Adapting to change

Along with the ability to think strategically and influence others, tomorrow’s leaders must be champions at managing change, says the Global Leadership Forecast. No one knows exactly what will happen and at what point of time in the workplace of the future. The ability to adapt to unexpected changes swiftly and effectively will be the difference between success and failure not only for leaders but for their organizations as well. In order to get comfortable with change, experts advise leaders to get into the habit of asking themselves hypothetical questions – “what would happen to the company if X happened?” – and think of appropriate solutions to those what-ifs.

Learnit has a leadership workshop that is designed to help you gain an open mind to change, adapt to new situations, and solve problems with no standard best practice. It’s called Adaptability in the Workplace. Additionally, Change Management is a five-week program of interactive workshops where you can learn the skills you need to effectively implement change and make sure it sticks.

Adaptability has many positive outcomes. It helps individuals cope with pressure and adversity in a healthy way, thereby significantly reducing burnout – which, as we mentioned earlier, is a major factor behind the current rush of resignations. That’s not all, an adaptable mindset is the key to becoming a compassionate and empathetic leader, which is the next skill requirement on this list.

4. Empathy

While many might consider showing their emotions in the office as a sign of weakness, this is far from the truth. In today’s fast-changing workplace, leadership must come from the head and the heart. Many studies put empathy – the ability to show concern and understanding for the life circumstances of employees – at the top of the pile of must-have leadership skills. This is because empathy impacts just about everything, from employee engagement and retention to innovation and even business results. A recent survey of US employees conducted by the nonprofit Catalyst says that 61% of people with highly empathic leaders report being often or always innovative at work compared to just 13% of people with less empathetic leaders.

Having an empathetic boss becomes even more important given the stressful times we live and work in. Earlier, when working in an office, managers could generally tell when a team member was having a bad day. But with a large section of people now working remotely, it has become harder for managers to know about their team members’ troubles. Of course, they must make the effort to find out and see that everyone is doing well. Unfortunately, only 15% of leaders were effective in using empathy under pandemic conditions, says the Global Leadership Trends for 2021.

While empathy might not come easily to all, leadership workshops can help. Learnit offers a wide range of classes designed to help leaders build empathy – in the way they communicate with team members, manage conflict, and more. Building emotional intelligence – the ability to understand, use, and manage emotions in a positive way – is crucial to improving empathy. With Learnit’s Emotional Intelligence workshop, you can learn to deal with emotional reactions in the right way and manage your work relationships positively.

Finally, truly empathetic leaders not only demonstrate empathy but also open themselves up to empathy from others. This is because leaders are just as vulnerable to stress and burnout, which can impair their ability to process information, make informed decisions, and stay calm under pressure. 

5. Cross-functional collaboration

In the workplace of the future, departments don’t work in silos, or they shouldn’t at least. Most businesses have embraced internal mobility, which allows employees to move across roles within the organization and managers to set up teams on a project-to-project basis. In such a system, leaders need to effectively manage teams where only some of the members report to them or where they might share leadership responsibilities with others. This is easier said than done, considering that humans are tribal by nature. They identify with familiar groups and are not always welcoming of outsiders. It takes a special leader to help team members who have never worked together to overcome their inherent biases and open themselves up to new work relationships.

One way of bringing cohesion and collaboration to such teams is by creating a shared purpose. Cross-functional collaboration rises and falls on the strength of the leader in charge. Leaders who show empathy, are good in dealing with conflict, and have a genuine desire to create shared success are known to build the strongest cross-functional teams. Learnit’s Collaboration workshop teaches you how to work with people effectively in all kinds of circumstances – one-on-one situations, temporary work groups, and long-term project teams.