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Upskilling Leaders: Overview and Options


Upskilling LeadersIn 2022, the think tank Pew Research Center took a closer look at the number of employees resigning from their jobs. Their research found that 63% of U.S. workers reported no opportunities for advancement as their top reason for resigning in 2021. This discovery has consequently become pivotal for several companies, who are now beginning to look at education and development as a central part of their benefits profile.

Focusing on the development of leaders, in particular, has been found to be critical for businesses to succeed in the future of work — especially as we grapple with the new trends of an evolving workforce. In this article, we take a closer look at the importance of upskilling leaders and the different options available.

Importance of upskilling

Upskilling is necessary in order to keep up with the latest technical and cultural demands of the workforce. According to 2021 Gartner HR research, nearly 60% of the workforce needs new skills to do their jobs correctly. Depending on the industry, this need may be even higher.

The current digital age is bombarded with constant, major technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Upskilling in advance will become crucial for companies to stay competitive in the marketplace. Additionally, the BBC explains that upskilling is a means for workers to future-proof themselves against workforce disruptions, such as automation.

Leaders will have to pave the way in familiarizing themselves with these innovations so that they can guide and motivate employees to follow in their footsteps. However, hard skills are not the only skills that need to be developed. Leaders will have the additional responsibility of upskilling on softer skills, such as digital communication, in order to ensure that burnout levels of employees are regulated as they navigate new skills and tools in an increasingly demanding marketplace.

New working trends, such as hybrid working and the four-day week, have already been identified as beneficial for avoiding burnout. In order to further avoid the pitfalls of overwork and poor team performance, it is key that leaders continuously train and educate themselves on the most efficient ways to manage employees and their welfare while securing consistent productivity levels.

Ways to upskill

Many companies have since invested in learning and development (L&D) with increased availability of workshops and seminars. However, it is challenging to consistently and consecutively retain crucial information. Additionally, the content of L&D training matters. TalentLMS’ 2022 report highlights how training would’ve been more effective for participants if it were more relevant and up-to-date and if employees were given more control.

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Leadership development and coaching programs

To adjust to this feedback, many companies started taking a more direct and hands-on approach to L&D with coaching. Leadership development and coaching courses from LHH enlist the expertise of former C-suite executives with a wealth of experience to guide future leaders in realizing their potential. This allows leaders to apply lessons from lectures and books and make them actionable in a more practical situation. A strong coaching culture can be similarly found in other industry leaders such as Adobe, Alphabet, and Verizon.

Online Leadership Courses

Otherwise, if limited by the unavailability of L&D in their company, leaders can look towards online courses. The Leading Teams: Developing as a Leader online course from the University of Illinois, for example, is taught by highly experienced professors and only takes approximately 13 hours to complete. Taking a variety of online courses is a popular and accessible way to diversify your leadership skills in a short amount of time.

Here are some of the online executive education programs for leaders to upskill:

Digital Strategies for Business: Leading the Next-Generation Enterprise

This online program is designed for senior management and managers who want to create innovative strategies and business models to succeed in the ever-changing digital age. The program includes a live Q&A with David Rogers, a world-renowned digital business strategist and faculty at Columbia Business School Executive Education.

Key Features:

  • Ideal for senior management and C-Suite professionals, mid to senior managers in the technology function, consultants, and functional managers in marketing and sales.
  • Participants will learn about the latest digital trends, opportunities, and disruptions, and gain insights into customer behavior to create a holistic digital transformation strategy for their organization.
  • The program also focuses on developing skills for implementing digital tools and technologies systematically and leveraging digital customer networks to create value in their roles.

Values-Based Leadership

The “Values-Based Leadership” online program from the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business empowers senior executives and managers to lead according to their values and beliefs in today’s changing business landscape. Developed in partnership with the Allan Gray Centre for Values Based Leadership, this program helps participants align personal and organizational values and develop a personalized action plan for navigating modern business complexities.

Key Features:

  • Designed for senior executives and managers who want to upgrade their leadership skills in a changing business world, as well as aspiring leaders seeking to move into leadership positions.
  • Participants will learn about the Management by Values (MBV) approach, explore real-world business cases, and develop skills for empowering others to lead with a shared purpose.
  • The program also offers networking opportunities with a cohort of business leaders and future-focused professionals from various industries, helping participants steer their career direction and lead organizations with a values-based approach.

Government upskilling programs

Leaders can additionally look towards employee development initiatives that are offered by the state. The U.S. Chamber explains that upskilling programs are occasionally sponsored by the government or nonprofit organizations, as seen in the case of the AARP Foundation with the Association of Women’s Business Centers’ (AWBC) upskilling program. There are plenty of options for leaders to upskill efficiently today, so it is important to demonstrate resourcefulness and proactivity when searching for a program.

Start with exploring our catalog of reviews of various online courses and certification programs. With Take This Course, upskilling will become more accessible to leaders around the world.