Why Leaders Need Upskilling Too
The business world has changed significantly in the past decade, so why haven't leadership skills?
There's a lot of discussion around the need for companies to upskill employees to help support a better employee experience and fill skills gaps necessary for growth, but one area often forgotten is the need to upskill managers and senior leaders.
The workplace looks different today than it did just three years ago, and leadership styles that have worked in the past may no longer be suited to today's environment. What's more, processes have changed, and technology has changed — and to avoid acting blindly, leaders must understand all those changes and the impact they will have on the organization.
The Same Job Needs 10% More Skills
According to Gartner HR Research, 58% of the workforce need new skills to do their jobs successfully. The data shows the required number of skills for any single job is increasing by 10% annually.
The reasons for that are simple:
- New technologies are changing how tasks are completed.
- Changes to regulations force changes in working patterns.
- The concept of work is rapidly evolving and shifting.
These changes don't just concern employees; they also concern managers — and perhaps even more so because leaders must understand every facet of the business they oversee in order to minimize risk and optimize output.
"In a working world where the speed and scale of innovation is faster than ever, one of the most important things a senior leader can do is to continually upskill," said Parvaneh Merat, Cisco's VP of training and certifications.
Merat believes upskilling itself will also come to change from what it is today. She expects it will become more about personalized, skills-first training solutions that can adapt to the learner's specific needs, much thanks to AI technology.
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Keeping Pace With Agility and Diversity
The need for more diversity and greater agility in the workplace has been a great focus in recent years.
Zach Smith, co-founder of Activate 180 and a speaker on ways companies can create psychologically safe work environments, develop emotional intelligence and drive employee engagement, said members of senior leadership teams need to be upskilled to keep up with increasing workplace demand for agility and diversity, tactics which digitalization requires.
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And as resources become more scarce in a challenging labor and economic environment, companies that have leaders who understand the process and can wear many hats is a clear advantage. Not only can they rally the troops and mentor with confidence, without having to rely on external sources, they can also more easily demonstrate empathy and relatability, two very important traits of modern leadership.
Managers who undertake learning can improve their own adaptability and flexibility, Smith said. Therefore, leaders can better cope with issues as they arise.
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Instilling a Culture of Learning
Leading by example isn't a new concept. Leaders who invest in their own skills development help foster a culture of learning inside the company.
Sara Dowling, senior director of employee experience and learning & development at Momentive, said by undertaking strong learning development, leaders can inspire others to improve and find new ways to create even more opportunities for learning within the company.
One of the benefits of a culture that rewards learning is that employees tend to be happier, Dowling said. Research shows employees are more satisfied with their jobs — and life — when learning opportunities are available.
And when leaders are also participating in the upskilling process, it can help boost overall team morale even more, she said, along with collaboration and motivation.
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