Positioning Yourself for Successful Learning Leadership Series Part Three

Tracy Cox

Part Three: Increasing Your Effectiveness in Learning Leadership

Read Part One of the Learning Leadership series.

Read Part Two of the Learning Leadership series.

I believe we all want to be effective at what we do. Whether it is doing our jobs, being parents, being a good friend, etc., we want to be effective. The problem is often two-fold: We don’t know how to define effectiveness within our context and once we can define it, we don’t have an intentional plan as to how we get there. So, it might be helpful to understand the top factors experienced learning leaders consider when determining effectiveness.

The top factor of determining effectiveness of learning leadership turns out to be measurable business impact. To a majority of the 122 global learning leaders, business impact is the most important factor in determining effectiveness. The more concerning element of this finding is that, when asked, most admit that this is the one area where most learning leaders fall short. And, again, like many other things, in order to get there, one must start at the beginning. The only chance learning leaders have of demonstrating measurable business impact through learning is to develop a learning strategy that is tied directly to the strategic objectives of the company. If this linkage is made, then key metrics can be put in place that when tracked, can demonstrate the business impact of learning leadership on the organization. These could include attrition, internal placements, employee opinion surveys, innovation and technology impacts on win rates, etc.

To further demonstrate the importance of establishing measurable business impact of learning leadership when we asked these learning leaders what their number one challenge was in the position, they overwhelmingly (stated by 32 percent, with the next challenge at 13 percent) responded that it was demonstrating the value of learning. This again is a clear indication that there is a disconnect between the learning function and learning strategy and the business strategy, goals and objectives. Once this alignment is made, a value proposition can be defined, followed by key metrics to proactively measure the impact of the learning strategy. This seamless approach appears to be the most robust in terms of closing the perceived gap of business impact and demonstrated value from learning. Expressed in the words of one senior learning leader, "Success is defined by having a seat at the table when the topic isn’t just about learning. The business is always in touch and shares victories with you about the value you have added. They listen when you speak and call you for more advice and support." So, how do you know when you are being an effective learning leader? A good indicator is "when your vision is shared throughout the organization, and your value is realized, not calculated."

First published on Human Resources IQ.