By Michael McGowan

Today’s learning leaders are charged with driving their organizations’ leaders and employees to peak performance, which requires an enormous commitment of time, energy, and resources. Not surprisingly, this means the learning professional’s own development sometimes takes a back seat to that of their people.

The demands on L&D leaders are vast. Technology and automation have dramatically altered the learning landscape, rendering useless the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the past. Effective learning is increasingly a blend of on-demand and in-person training, designed to maximize time and results. In addition, the demand for “soft skills” training continues to increase in areas such as communications, presentation skills, coaching and mentoring, navigating conflict, and more.

Responding to these heightened demands requires a different set of skills and competencies than before to deliver on organizational learning and development expectations. In addition to a thorough understanding of the latest and greatest in terms of adult education, today’s L&D leaders need skills around change management and organizational design, along with a deep foundation of business acumen.

Business acumen is a key skill not traditionally sought in L&D leaders but times are changing. They need the ability to understand how the business operates to introduce, create, and buy the right types of programs that will help close skills gaps throughout the organization. Aligning talent strategy with business goals has now become a critical factor to the success of any organization.

If you’re an L&D professional, here are some tips for seeking a path to self-development:

  • It’s critical to employ an outside-in mindset to understand what organizations within and outside of your industry are doing to develop their leaders. Join and attend HR/L&D networking events and executive clubs to expand your network and learning beyond the walls of your own organization.
  • Don’t just promote your company’s L&D programs – take part in them! Seek out opportunities to join a diverse high-potential cohort, explore coaching, or look into an external certification. Maintain a curious mindset and remain open and proactive to opportunities for your own growth.
  • While the number of L&D books on the market can be overwhelming, many of them offer eye-opening insights that can invoke new ideas and considerations. Consider joining a book club or finding the time during your commute or down-time to read (or listen). It’s a simple, easy way to expand your thinking.

Your commitment to learners in your organization should extend to yourself. By focusing inward from time to time, you can maximize your strengths, realize your potential, and help your organization’s leaders and team excel.

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