Stepping into the Future of Leadership Development

The rapid onset of COVID-19 forced all of us in the leadership and talent development space to quickly create new ways of thinking, learning, and working; it affected every fiber of our world. In essence, the pandemic has forced the birth of new ways of doing just about everything, from parenting to schooling to working.

On the work front, organizations are being called upon to reimagine the way they do business, care for their employees, grow, and more. But rising tensions and stress cause people to withdraw from true dialogue or try to dominate it. The consequences are costly: Some 77% of employees say poor communication hinders their company’s ability to compete.1

As a result, leaders became learners again, rediscovering how to build trust, manage in a remote setting, and engage in authentic, straightforward dialogue. Along the way we’ve gained more clarity around what’s truly important, found the ability to quickly change course, and become skilled at doing things that were once uncomfortable. We’ve also discovered new ways of building and fortifying human connections for living, learning, and leading in a time of unprecedented upheaval.

This experience has helped The Ken Blanchard Companies develop and refine a fresh, modern approach to effective, human-centered leadership development experiences at a time when effective leadership matters more than ever. Just like you, we’ve had to ramp up quickly to meet the changing needs of learners—and what a change it’s been, as we are now averaging over 500 virtual sessions per month! We’ve also accelerated our time to launch exciting new modalities designed to extend our ability to reach more leaders more effectively with human connections woven in. As industry has made the rapid-fire shift to virtual, in many organizations the human connection is diminished or completely missing. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to reach more leaders, to democratize leadership development, and to leverage what we’re best known for: building the most productive relationships between people at work using our timeless, enduring content that is beloved the world over.

It’s been a great opportunity to partner with clients to design new ways to reach individuals and leaders, distributed across locations and time zones, with the helping hand of smart technologies. The result has been learning experiences that are deeply rooted to our clients’ leaders and learners: who they are, what they do and when, and how they work. Together we’ve created experiences that improve awareness and capability, and move their businesses forward by imparting the skills their leaders need right now—not to survive, but to thrive.

I am a Solutions Architect, part of our Solutions Architecture Center of Excellence. We partner with our clients to co-create the perfect experience for your scale, timeline, technology needs, and budget. We begin our engagements with a design session that is collaborative and co-creative and incorporates the tenets of design thinking (specifically, Empathize, Define, and Ideate) to clearly understand your audience—in other words, who we are solving for. That who drives each set of decisions we make as we define the goals, craft the learning experiences for your various target groups, and determine how we will prove the value of our work together. Focusing on your audience early and often allows our design team to connect closely with the learner, develop relevant content, create context, and build world-class experiences for all levels of leaders.

We’ve been using this approach successfully with all of our content including our flagship offering, SLII®, plus other core offerings such as Self Leadership, Blanchard Management Essentials®, Building Trust, Leading People Through Change®, Conversational Capacity®, and Team Leadership. This approach allows us to create a common language and provide frameworks that are easy to apply from one level of leadership to another.

And we’ve packaged the content in ways that meet the demands of different learner groups:

  • For small cohort groups up to 20 people, we’ve been suggesting Virtual Instructor Led Training experiences that will leave your leaders feeling as though they, well, went to class! Click here for a close-in view of how we “do” virtual learning at Blanchard.
  • For larger audiences that need to learn new skills in a way that scales broadly and quickly:
  • For more in-depth experiences, our Digital Learning Journeys provide a turnkey way for you to deliver leadership-level-specific learning, quickly. Many of our core programs are available in this format now and can be used individually or with intact teams.
  • And to keep the learning at the forefront after the formal learning moments end, we’ve been layering in our sustainment offerings such as our multi-week SLII® chatbot, called Kenbot®, that extends the learning from the classroom into the flow of work. There is no easier way to reconnect and recommit than offering the chatbot as a performance support tool for your leaders.
  • Blanchard’s Coaching Solutions provide additional rigor to all our offerings and turn newly formed skills into new habits and ways of working. Designs range from a peer coaching model that aligns to the journeys of different levels of leaders, to group coaching in groups of 8 to 12, to individual One on One coaching and executive coaching.

As we look to the future, it’s only natural to ask, “Will the classroom make a comeback?” That’s a question we all are asking. Our answer is, “Yes, in some form,” but what comes next will undoubtedly look different than it did prior to COVID-19.

We envision a leadership development experience that blends every modality, curated specifically to address the needs of your various audiences.

Perhaps it’s Building Trust in Virtual Instructor Led Training in small cohorts for your people in EMEA, the same content served up in Digital Learning Journeys with live group coaching sessions in the Americas, and again, the same content served up in face-to-face sessions in Asia.

Reaching further out into the flow of work, picture Interactive Keynote Sessions for your large, synchronous, global audiences on critical topics that resonate around the globe—or envision Blanchard’s digital licensed content served up in journeys your L&D team creates and presents on your LMS or LXP platform.

No matter what your learning platform, LXP, or LMS is, Blanchard can help you leverage your investment. We’ve incorporated much of our digital content and experiences in mainstream LXPs that scale the leadership development experience instantly. And for those of you with an LMS platform, we have a public API that can be used to integrate our content into your platform.

Learn more about offering our programs in plans and pathways on your instance. Together we can create a blueprint to build communities of connected, inspired leaders speaking the same language, as part of a unified approach to leading your people forward.

Our Solutions Architect team members are some of the most accomplished professionals in the industry. They can help you:

  • Co-create a learning experience that meets your timeline, technology needs, and budget
  • Develop à la carte options to fill in the gaps in your leadership development curriculum
  • Create a leadership development journey that unfolds over time and incorporates Blanchard content, your custom content, and content from other providers
  • Deploy a new leadership development experience on a learning management system, a learning experience platform, or other innovative learning technologies

I am ready to help. There’s a bright future of leadership development ahead of us. Schedule an initial design consultation with me or one of the other Solutions Architects to explore what the future of leadership development could look like in your organization. Or download our new Solutions Brochure. We’d love to share designs we’ve created for other clients and explore what your organization’s leadership development experience could look like.

About the Author

Ann Rollins is a solutions architect with The Ken Blanchard Companies. A modern learning champion with more than 25 years of industry experience helping form and execute learning strategy for Fortune and Global 500 companies, Ann always has her eyes on the technology horizon. Her passion lies in helping clients sort out the learning angles and attainability of technology in workforce learning and performance to build future-forward, human-centered experiences.

1. Dynamic Signal, The Cost of Poor Employee Communication, 2018.

Leave a Reply