Thinking strategically about learning

Earlier this week I led a leadership development program in Singapore. I do so regularly, but this week was special.

The client is a European startup company – just two years old, with less than 50 employees. I was impressed by the thinking of their leadership. They brought all the employees to Singapore to expand their perspective and to enhance leadership skills at all levels. The firm has global ambitions and this commensurate investment in people development was inspiring.

The firm organized briefings on macro-economic trends, including the rise of Asian economies. I was invited to work with the entire team to strengthen leadership capabilities. Together we went through several experiential learning exercises to help leaders manage stress (their own and others’), manage complex team dynamics and solve demanding problems in more creative ways.

This was obviously a substantial investment for the small firm, but they are committed to investing in their people for the future. The entire executive team is aligned on the need for this kind of investment to develop and strengthen shared values in keeping with the firm’s mission – “to create permanent improvements for their clients”.

The executive team is also fully committed to building capabilities to ensure the firm will serve their clients at higher levels, year by year. To this end, they have developed a thoughtful learning architecture that spans all levels of the organization – from summer interns to the CEO. It was a privilege to be invited to help shape this architecture.

We often refer to “the knowledge economy”. This firm has made the strategic choice to act on their conviction that the quality of their leadership will strongly influence their success. And the senior executives have not delegated the strategic leadership development work to HR, but have stayed personally involved throughout. Shortsighted cost control to pay dividends is simply not on the agenda. A lot of organizations might gainfully be inspired by this European startup.

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